Thursday, 21 July 2011
Some recent cases
Case 1 - Ratcliffe-on-Soar: The power station protester cases have been followed on this blog since the use of an undercover officer was revealed back in January. The conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass convictions of 20 protesters have now been quashed by the Court of Appeal - R v Barkshire and others  EWCA Crim (B3). An interesting post, written by David Hart QC, appears on the UK Human Rights blog. Hart draws attention to the Court of Appeal expressing reservations about a pre-trial ruling (of Flaux J) that the defendants could argue that their conduct was justifiable or excusable on the basis of necessity. The Court of Appeal did not rule on this and so the point remains open. It is quite possible that, in the event of some further similar protest, the point will be resurrected but it may not find fertile ground within the judiciary.
Related posts 14 July, 10 June, 10 Jan, 8 Jan - the 8th January post looked at the defence of necessity. It is likely that the judges would wish to keep any such defence within limits which are as narrow as possible.
Case 2 - Jurors in the local pub: R v Hewgill, Hancock, Murray  EWCA Crim 1778 concerns a conversation - (in a pub "The Crown" near to the Crown Court at Birmingham) - between two jurors and a defendant who had been convicted but was
released on court bail pending sentence. The conversation related to another defendant who had not yet been convicted on one count in the indictment. What effect did this conversation - which was not reported to the trial judge - have on the subsequent verdict? See the case for the answer!
Case 3 - Sexual Offence Prevention Orders (SOPs): A considerable body of case law is developing around these orders which form part of the total sentencing package for certain "sex offenders." These orders are based on the Sexual Offences Act 2003 Part 2 sections 104-113. R v Smith, Clarke, Hall and Dodd  EWCA Crim 1772 considers the making of these orders in relation to offenders who had been found guilty of viewing child pornography. The case does not purport to discuss every aspect relating to the making of these orders.
Case 4 - Family Law - Guardians in Care Proceedings: The Guardian is usually appointed by the Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). Some years ago, many guardians operated freelance. It was always considered that a guardian had independence in terms of the advice they offer as to matters such as the outcome considered to be the best in the interests of the child or children in question. A court needs to have very cogent reasons to go against a guardian's considered recommendations. The independence of guardians has been defended by Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the Family Division in K, C, T v CAFCASS and others  EWHC 1672 (Fam) which concerned the removal of a Guardian in care proceedings. It was not for CAFCASS to either replace the guardian or to substitute its views for those of the guardian. The guardian's views were open to be tested in the court which, of course, has the ultimate responsibility for making orders relating to children.
R v Smith  UKSC 37. This case in the Supreme Court concerned Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s225(3) as amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 s13(1). A "lifer" prisoner was released on licence and committed robberies. He was recalled to prison. When sentencing for the latest offences, the judge imposed a sentence of imprisonment for public protection. This was challenged but the Supreme Court has held that the sentence was in order. For more on this case see UK Supreme Court blog.