Friday, 16 February 2007

The joy of appeals

Another stunning (albeit insignificant) victory today, this time in an appeal against sentence. When people are convicted and/or sentenced by a Magistrates Court, there is an automatic right of appeal to the Crown Court. This results in many appeals that are doomed to fail, since no grounds of appeal are needed. (The same is not true when people are convicted/sentenced in the Crown Court, as they need to seek leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. In order to do this, there must be grounds for the appeal.) Appeals from the Magistrates to the Crown Court take the form of a rehearing and are very badly paid so most of us try to avoid them like the plague. Happily, my case today was one of the few appeals from the Mags to actually have some merit, the appeal was allowed and the sentence was reduced by about 25%. Even better, I was finished by 11.30, leaving plenty of time to catch up on papers (or update my blog, check my email and drink tea) before leaving for the weekend. If you're going to have a low-earning day, it's some comfort if you finish early. Better still was the fact that a barrister who has really irritated me in the past was at the same court about to start an appeal against conviction against a man who had chosen to represent himself - the dread of all barristers! When people represent themselves in court, you can guarantee the process will take twice as long and be twice as tortuous. This is mainly because litigants in person (as we call them) tend to go on and on about irrelevant points and judges are very reluctant to interrupt them for fear of creating an impression that people do not get the opportunity to "have their say". It's very difficult being against them because, contrary to what many people may think, opponents do generally talk to one another before going into court to see if they can come to any agreement about any of the issues and to alert one another to some of the points they are going to raise. Trying to persuade a litigant in person that you need to talk to them really gets their backs up. I once prosecuted a woman who defended herself and every time I tried to talk to her she burst in to tears and begged me to leave her alone. That was a long day. Rather my irritating colleague than me!


Mr Beagle said...

It also gives you time to come and see your boyfriend! x

BabyBarista said...
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