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Category Archives: stuff that isn’t law at all

Suggested improvements to case management orders

 

Look, we know what you’re up to. They are intended to be soul-destroyingly tedious – perhaps you have some sort of vested interest in treatment of aneurysms, perhaps you just hate lawyers, perhaps you want to make us all quit.  Or you read Catch 22 but completely missed that the bits where the bureacracy intended to serve people in their jobs ends up hampering them or took those as a call to arms rather than a satirical barb. Who knows?

 

Every time I open up a blank one, I feel like this

 

 

But form designers, you can strive even harder to ruin the day of anyone who has to complete the things.  Here are just five suggested additions

 

1.  Code numbers.  To protect anonymity, from now on, the name of any individual or party, including Judges, social workers, experts, lawyers, will have its own unique 26 number code. That code will not be consistent with that used for that person in any other case, and will be changed every 27 days for security purposes.  This will result in clauses like this   97233861182418618690207116900  shall file and serve their assessment of 18y790393700122 and 10089279972291772  as carers for 11909078667672291 and 492280661512982 . Much better for everyone

 

2.  Section 2 of the order will now require that the author complete in handwriting (to prevent cutting and pasting) every section of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act that does not apply to the case, even where the case involves a perfectly routine pregnancy.

 

3. Section 9 of the order requires the author to give two examples of irony in literature (such examples must not have been replicated in any other order lodged in that Court. The Court will not divulge in advance whether the example has been previously used)

 

4. In the event that any of the parties has ever been on holiday to a foreign country, indicate whether you have written to that country to see whether they have any intention to intervene in these proceedings.

 

5. Again for security purposes, a code system like those Captcha things on websites is introduced when lodging the form. The computer system will give fourteen words and the advocate lodging the form must identify which View from the President the words are a quotation from.

 

 

[I might, perhaps, just perhaps, have drafted too many Case Management Orders this month]

 

World cup – Game of Thrones style

 

(apologies to anyone who does not follow either football or Game of Thrones – the clue that this one may not be for you is in the title. No-Telly Neville, you won’t get any of this, sorry)

 

With the World Cup looming, it is time to consider how the major Westeros sides are likely to do in the tournament, based on form, tactics, personnel and management style in our exclusive Betting Guide

 

Team Targaryean    -   hopes were high for one of the pre-tournament favourites – they have solidity at the back with one of the all time great defenders Barristan Selmy, the workman-like Sir Friendzone of Mormont, youth with Gray Worm, three fiery attackers and the man with “All the Flair and Too Much Hair” Daario.  They also have a manager that the team will follow to the ends of the earth. What could go wrong?  Well, whilst all of the other teams set up training camps in Miami or Brazil, Daenerys instead chose to base her team in Morocco, and so far has shown no signs of ever bloody booking a plane to Brazil where all the action is. When we interviewed her, suggesting that the World Cup was there for the taking and all she had to do was cross the narrow sea to get there, Daenerys instead set her sights on being in Algeria for the foreseeable future.  Save your money and back someone else.   1/15 if they actually turn up   250/1 on the basis that they don’t seem to have a transport plan to get them to the action

 

Team Black Watch – resolute defenders, certainly. Their defensive wall is second to none, and even the most creative free-kick taker is going to struggle to get the ball over a four hundred foot wall of ice and get it up and down fast enough to beat the keeper. There have long been concerns about whether they have any attacking presence, and our sources suggest that although they claim to have a World Cup squad of 100,000 players it might actually be about seven, one of whom is blind and about 160 years old and another is very fat.  Talk is also that the manager, John Snow, knows nothing.   They might get out of the group, but no further.   14/1

 

Team Stark – sigh. Such a promising team, ripped apart by injury – and in the case of their last two captains simply ripped apart.  Rickon seems to just go missing, Bran wanders about aimlessly. Arya is a deadly finisher and Sansa might be turning into a genuine player. If you MUST have a flutter on Team Stark, it should be for their former jinky winger Bran scoring with a Hodor.  (sorry)     28/1

 

Team Oberyn Martell – charismatic Latin flair, everyone’s favourite dark horse. All the power, all the knowhow, all the tactics. However, some of us got badly burned backing him in the last semi-final, where he dominated Brazil for ninety minutes whilst never actually scoring a goal and then spent the entireity of injury time doing keepie-uppies and Cruyff turns in his own six yard box.   9/1

 

Team Lannister  – the current holders of the trophy,  rumours persist that they bought the previous three World Cups that they won (as though there could ever be financial corruption in a World Cup). They have had their own injury worries, with their star goalkeeper Jaime losing a hand. We have had Goldenballs at a World Cup before, now this is Golden-Hand.  Most people’s favourite player Tyrion, with his low centre of gravity and quick wits gives them a chance. Their manager Tywin is said to be a strict disciplinarian (other than when it comes to members of his team sleeping together).  Joffrey, their captain, who often plays a sweeper role hiding behind the back of his mother Cersei is another doubt – he is said to have a bad cough at the moment. Fans of the WAGS  (and the TV cameras) will be hoping that doesn’t shut Margaery out of the tournament.   7/4 favourites

 

Team Stannis – dour, hard to beat, hard to break down. What they really need is a bit of magic.  9/1

 

Team Hound – we interviewed the Hound and his comments were  “F**k the World Cup”   – when we pressed and said that plenty of people like the World Cup, he said “Yes, plenty of C***s”   -  it is not entirely clear whether he is even intending to turn up. We don’t advise risking your hard earned cash on a flutter

 

Team Theon – all the talk is that this team has lost something in the tackle department.  90/1

 

Team Littlefinger – most fans did not even realise that Littlefinger was playing in this tournament. Many of them didn’t even realise he had a team. An outside bet, but he certainly plays that Andrea Pirlo role, pulling all the strings and making everything happen. The odds are against him, but frankly worth a punt.  180/1

 

Team White Walkers – terrifying presence, have the ability to take the players from the opposing side and make them play for Team White Walkers, virtually unstoppable – ice-cold blood in their veins, which would be useful if it goes to penalties. The one question mark is their absolute lack of pace – they seem to have made no forward progress in the last four seasons.   19/1

 

Did Adam and Eve receive a fair trial?

 

Nonsense.

I came across a quotation from a very old criminal case a few weeks ago and it has been on my mind – I can’t turn up the reference today save that the Judge was Fortescue, will try to find it. Anyway, the thrust of it was that the Judge, in explaining the need for fairness and procedure in criminal proceedings brought in the reference of Adam and Eve, in effect saying that God did not immediately punish them for their original sin, but gave them a trial first.  If that’s so, then a criminal trial is either one of the first important things in human history (if you are a creationist) or something that is in one of our oldest pieces of literature (if you are not).

So, it has been on my mind as to whether or not they received a FAIR TRIAL.

Let’s start with the offence – was there an establishment of  a criminal offence, and warning of consequence of the offence?

 

Genesis chapter 2

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

On that basis, Adam clearly knew that God did not want him to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge  (in effect, that’s the equivalent of the Government enacting the Theft Act).  I would point out that shortly afterwards Eve is created, and the warning isn’t given again. So it is arguable that God did not communicate the Theft Act to Eve, relying on Adam to tell her. Given that they were the only people in the world, and that God’s entire conversations to that point with Adam were less than a page, it seems reasonable to assume that at some point Adam would have mentioned it to Eve, it being the only rule of the Garden of Eden.

We now come to the offence itself

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

(In addition, we establish here that Eve DID know that God had prohibited the eating of the fruit, so she can’t later claim ignorance of the law, which as we know is no excuse anyway)

At this point, we are aware that Adam and Eve knew that eating the fruit was unlawful, and that they ate it. One can hardly claim that you recklessly ate an apple from a tree, so although God wasn’t specific about mens rea for the offence, there seems to be both the act  of eating the apple and the intention to eat the apple.

The offence comes to light here, and God probes the couple as to what happened

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

I’m not sure that I would classify that as a trial, so much as an interview. Both of them confess (Eve after Adam has already turned Queen’s Evidence on her)

If they HAD denied it, given that God was both prosecutor and Judge, what chance would they have got?  Remember that God is omnipotent and omnipresent, so he was also a witness to them eating the fruit at the time, and can also see the past and see the future. He would appear to be the perfect eye witness, and is also the Judge and the jury.  He clearly would not have reasonable doubt, given that He was an eye-witness.

I think that Adam and Eve would be doomed if they tried to defend the case.

One might argue that they did it, and we know that they did it, so does it matter that they had no real opportunity to defend themselves? Does it matter if a system absolutely ensures that the guilty are always punished (the corollary of God being a perfect witness is that the innocent would never be convicted by Him, because of his omniscence.  Perhaps it is only that our imperfect human minds are not omniscent that means that we NEED reasonable doubt and the chance for people to persuade a jury of those doubts)

The better line of defence here might be in relation to the agent provocateur, the serpent. At no point in the ‘trial’ is it revealed that the serpent was previously employed by God. And of course, as God as ominiscent, then He was there when the serpent tempted Eve and could have intervened, and He knew in advance that the serpent WOULD try to tempt Eve and gave no guidance.  Is there the possibility of an entrapment defence here?

Well, that is going to hinge on whether God is English or American  (other nationalities are possible, but come on, clearly God speaks in a similar voice to either David Niven (English) or Charlton Heston (American) )

In English law, entrapment is not a defence

R v Loosely

LORD HOFFMANN

My Lords,

    35. The question in both of these appeals is whether the English law concerning entrapment is compatible with the Convention right to a fair trial. In my opinion it is. I have had the advantage of reading in draft the reasons of Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead for reaching the same conclusion. I agree with them.

    English law on entrapment

    36. Entrapment occurs when an agent of the state – usually a law enforcement officer or a controlled informer – causes someone to commit an offence in order that he should be prosecuted. I shall in due course have to refine this description but for the moment it will do. In R v Latif [1996] 1 WLR 104, 112 Lord Steyn said that English law on the subject was now settled. It may be summarised as follows. First, entrapment is not a substantive defence in the sense of providing a ground upon which the accused is entitled to an acquittal. Secondly, the court has jurisdiction in a case of entrapment to stay the prosecution on the ground that the integrity of the criminal justice system would be compromised by allowing the state to punish someone whom the state itself has caused to transgress. Thirdly, although the court has a discretion under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to exclude evidence on the ground that its admission would have an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings, the exclusion of evidence is not an appropriate response to entrapment. The question is not whether the proceedings would be a fair determination of guilt but whether they should have been brought at all. I shall briefly enlarge upon these three points.

(a)     Not a defence

 

    37. The fact that the accused was entrapped is not inconsistent with his having broken the law. The entrapment will usually have achieved its object in causing him to do the prohibited act with the necessary guilty intent. So far as I know, the contrary view is held only in the Federal jurisdiction of the United States. It is unnecessary to discuss the cogent criticisms which have been made of this doctrine, notably by Frankfurter J in his dissenting judgment in Sherman v United States (1958) 356 US 369, because it has never had any support in authority or academic writing in this country. Indeed, the majority judgment of Rehnquist J in United States v Russell (1973) 411 US 423, 433, which describes the criticisms as “not devoid of appeal” suggests that its survival in the Federal jurisdiction owes more to stare decisis and its perceived constitutional and pragmatic advantages than to its intellectual coherence.

So in English law, the fact that the serpent, whose connection to the Prosecution / law enforcement agencies is uncertain but at least raises doubts, lures Eve into the offence is not a defence. It might be that if the circumstances are so repugnant to justice that the EVIDENCE obtained can’t be relied upon the prosecution might be stayed, but that would be God’s decision as the Judge.

It is God acting as Judge and jury and police and prosecutor which raises the biggest issues here. That would seem to give rise to a right of appeal, on the R v Sussex Justices point – “Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done”

The right of appeal doesn’t help though, since any appeal would (a) also be to God and (b) Him being omniscent, already knows the outcome of the appeal.

It is quite difficult to work out what a fair criminal justice system in which the only individuals in existence are God, the serpent, Adam and Eve; so one must be careful in criticising what was set up, but this arrangement where God sets the law, brings the charges, is a wtiness of fact, decides the case and delivers sentence seems lacking in the fundamental separation of powers.

Perhaps that explains why God  (who had told Adam and Eve that if they ate the fruit, they would die that same day) ends up giving a more lenient sentence than the death sentence originally specified.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

So, hunger, banishment from paradise, a life-cycle involving hard toil and then death rather than eternal life, and horrible pain in childbirth.  (That in itself raises an Equalities Act issue, in that Eve’s sentence for the same offence seems markedly more harsh than Adam’s. The serpent also gets a sentence, and there’s clearly no trial of the serpent, who is not asked anything – AND God had not established that incitement was an offence)

[The later sentence of merely banishment for Cain, for murdering at that time one quarter of the world's population, seems somewhat out of kilter to the harsher sentence for eating an apple, but the Lord moves in mysterious ways]

Popular songs, mangled into legal submissions

As you will know, a lawyer never calls a spade a spade if they can instead refer to it as an instrument, implement or tool, ordinarily (but not exclusively) employed in a gardening capacity whose purposes include (but are not limited to) the movement of earth, turf or other similar organic-based material.

So, this is how some popular songs might appear if they were instead translated into legal submissions. If you are trying to guess them, you might want to avoid the comments, which are likely to contain spoilers for the answers.

 

 

1. Your Honour, you are not invited, in this particular case and in relation particularly to my client’s hips, to give yourself a Lucas Direction.

 

2. My client’s position, in relation to his ordinary or habitual residence for the purposes of the Act, is that this can best be ascertained on any particular occasion with reference to the geographical location at that particular time of the item of headwear that forms Exhibit One to his statement.

 

3. Your Honour, the applicant asserts that the respondent has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, to the extent that even if she were to redact all identifying references to him in her statement, he would be likely to infer or indeed presume that the statement was about him. She places reliance also on the close resemblance between the manner in which the respondent enters a party to the methodology he would be likely to employ if he were, say, to be instead walking onto a yacht (or similar vessel).  You will also see from the colour photograph at page B9, that the respondent’s scarf is indeed, as the applicant claims, to be a shade I would describe on her behalf as apricot.

 

4. It is asserted that my client is suffering from a disorder of the mind or brain, affecting his capacity to make reasoned decisions. The Trust pray in aid my client’s self-descriptions of being “nuts” or “loopy”. Far from it, your Honour, you have heard that he is in fact an aficianado of a particular sport or game, and that from time to time, this sport or game diverts his attention, preoccupies his thoughts and his level of devotion has led him to concede that he is indeed ‘loopy’ in the colloquial, rather than medical sense of the word. He is willing, if it please your Honour, to show you what he can do, if provided with the essential elements of that sport, pastime or game, to whit – a load of balls and a snooker cue.

 

5. Your Honour, much in this case has been made of my client’s particular absorption or fondness for the more generously proportioned posterior. This has been levelled against him, and to his credit, he accepts this fully and repeatedly. Rather than a grudging admission, my client – rather like the young George Washington, was remarkably candid – in relation to his admiration for generously proportioned posteriors, he cannot tell a lie. The Court has also heard evidence from my client’s brothers, and none of them deny the claim either.  It is a matter of trite law, I can find the authority if my opponent wishes or if your Honour needs me to take you to it, that Jane Fonda does NOT have an anaconda in the back of her Honda.

 

6. In relation to the respondent’s infidelity, which forms the grounds for the breakdown of the marriage, the Petitioner’s case is that he did indeed know that the respondent intended to be unfaithful, that he knew that this was with a former partner – another man, who she knew before.  The respondent has been considerably exercised in her desire to know how the petitioner learned of this plan or intent – the petitioner’s case is always that this information came to him from sources that he would prefer to keep anonymous.

 

7. Paternity in this case is disputed. Mr J has given evidence that the mother, whilst physically striking, and resembling a beauty queen, is not someone with whom he has ever been intimate. His evidence was crystal clear on this point – this woman was not someone with whom he had a relationship. He knew her, they danced in a nightclub, that was as far as it went. You heard also from his mother, who had given him very careful advice about how to conduct himself and you may well be satisfied that Mr J had taken this advice to heart. So far as the mother’s claim is concerned, this child is not his son.

 

 

Midsomer night’s dream

[Just absolute nonsense - no law in it at all]

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my report on crime, and crime solving methodology within the last forty years. There will be surprising results for you within my research – it will challenge the way in which we fund and fight crime, and some of it may be unpalatable for you to hear.  I have been brought to this hotbed of crime to see if what can only be described as a tidal wave of slayings can be reversed. With my help, ladies and gentlemen of Midsomer, it can.

In the 1970s – there were two major types of crime. Murder, which was dealt with by what we think of as traditional police work – interviewing suspects, gathering evidence, following leads and eventual arrest. The second type of crime, equally prevalent, was committed by perpetrators disguising themselves as ghosts – usually in order to scare people away from visiting a funfair so that they could buy the land cheaply or to frighten people away from an abandoned mine so that the proceeds of a robbery could be recovered. Ghost-related crime proved extremely resistant to traditional policing methods.

In fact, during the entireity of the 1970s, not a single arrest was made by a uniformed police officer – either here, in the United States, or in England.

A different approach was required, and so investment was made into the assembly of unorthodox units – staffed not by trained investigators but by teenagers – one of whom would be very attractive but contribute little , and with the smartest person being rather plain. This group dyamic worked far better in practice than groups where all of the teenagers were bright and useful. The other key element in successful ghost-related crime-solving was that the group be accompanied  by some sort of animal.

Those results were startling. Arrest levels for ghost-related crime went through the roof. These teenagers and an animal sort of thing made in-roads into ghost crime that ordinary police forces simply weren’t able to deal with.

Their names will be known to many of you involved in criminology or law enforcement, usually by way of the animal-thing who tended to grab most of the media attention – Scooby Doo, Goober and the Ghost Grabbers, the New Smoo, Fangface – there are many more.  They were so successful that by the mid-80s, funding was withdrawn, it being believed that the ghost-crime menace had been defeated.

Now what we have, instead of teenagers and a goofy sidekick are crack teams of scientists or forensic psychologists, or criminal profilers – working in groups of six or seven, with no animal sidekicks. And what they end up dealing with are multiple murders with sick twisted elements, killers who have unfathomable motives and a methodology that always seems far more trouble than it is worth.  Invariably, these murders are solved by establishing that the killer is a short-order chef, who collects Lego, and whose mother was killed by a bee-sting, and then this data is put into a computer and a list of one suspect arrived at.

My research shows that these crimes are WORSE than scaring away people from a funfair by dressing as an old civil-war infantryman with luminous paint on your clothes. By re-establishing zero tolerance on ghost-crimes, which are a gateway to these more heinous crimes, we could substantially improve people’s quality of life and reduce the chance of them being butchered and then turned into a Lego Bee or something.

We know, it is tried and tested that maverick pairs of police officers – who have nothing in common, are almost opposites and who fight like cat and dog are many many times more effective than trained, thoughtful methodical officers working in harmony. This approach reaped huge dividends throughout the United States, but came to a halt following a little known, but deeply unsuccessful attempt to pair Robin Williams on coke, with Dustin Hoffman on Quaaludes as  “The Extrovert and the Introvert”  – although arrests were made, multiple lawsuits arose from suspects who claimed that they had been ‘deeply freaked out’ by the process.

We also know that whilst the average police investigation is slow and time-consuming, any maverick detective given twenty-four hours to solve the case will achieve that desired result. This “Twenty-four hours or you’re off the case” efficiency drive ended up being overused, with one Chicago police department issuing the demand for every case, including minor office stationery thefts and the entire police department was then left with nothing to do until crime built up again.

But as with so many of these bold initiatives – the baby is thrown out with the bathwater when the scheme is abandoned.

Why, I have learned that police in Baltimore recently spent FIVE years investigating some drug lords, making less than six arrests in that whole time. The entire case could have been wrapped up in twenty four hours, if only the simple “I’m taking you off the case” management technique had been deployed.

Case study 1

In the 1980s, in Hawaii, a bold experiment was attempted. All police officers were laid off and the entire island’s crime prevention unit was placed in the hands – or rather, moustache of one man, Thomas Magnum. During the 1980s, every crime in Hawaii was solved by Mr Magnum – this covering murders, robberies and the fairly common kidnapping of foreign princesses or movie stars. The initial outlay of capital was heavy, yes. Multiple redundancy packages to existing police officers, huge increase in unemployment benefit, investment in a mansion, a Ferrari and a helicopter.

The start up costs are what made most other parts of America fail to take up the Magnum model  (although Los Angeles attempted a similar venture outsourcing all of their kidnapping of foreign princesses or movie star cases to a washed-up stuntman. His travel expenses eventually led to the suspension of the experiment) .  If they had carried on, however, that capital expenditure would have easily been recouped in the annual savings of not employing lots and lots of police man to do the work of one moustached detective.

Fact, ladies and gentlemen – since Thomas Magnum was laid off, there was a twenty year period where NO criminals were caught in Hawaii at all.  (This desperate pattern has been ended by the employment of Steve McGarratt’s grandson or something to form a crack Hawaii 5-0 investigation team – it is anticipated that this programme will be cancelled fairly soon. The lack of moustache makes it an inevitable failure)

Moustaches solve murders. FACT.

Case study 2

Again in the 1980s, five hundred and nine murders were solved by one single woman. Not a cop, not a private investigator. Just an old woman, a writer of mystery novels, who solved murders that happened at social events that she was invited too. The State did not have to pay her a dime for solving any of these crimes, making Jessica Fletcher by far and away the most cost-effective law enforcement operative in history. Some might say that although those 509 murders were solved, no convictions resulted – the jury returning not guilty pleas on the basis that they couldn’t understand how the accused was supposed to have done it.

Others might point to the book that Ms Fletcher published, entitled “If I did it” which explained that she was a psychopathic killer who had murdered all 509 people and set up other people for the crime without ever once having been suspected, but as Ms Fletcher said with a twinkle in her eye, this was merely a hypothetical and fictional account of how she could have done it rather than a confession.

Codgers crack cases. Demonstrable FACT.

Case study 3

The county of Midsomer in England currently accounts for 98% of homicides in the UK, yet their police force consists of just two officers and occasional input from a dog, Sykes.  Midsomer now has a higher murder per capita rate than Detroit, Washington DC – in fact the only place that has a higher murder per capita rate is a prison for Russian mobsters where there was a short-lived experiment to set the prisoners to work making knives. Property prices are dwindling – once a week, three houses become available because the owners have been killed, and nobody wants to move in because of the high probability that they will be murdered.

This cannot go on.

Solution

Part of the solution for Midsomer’s problems is already in place. I of course refer to Sykes the dog.  He will be the cornerstone of Midsomer’s new approach. A pretty teenage girl will be appointed to the investigation team. She will have a plain friend who will be a computer whizzkid, who will do internet searches for “Hang-gliding enthusiasts who are allergic to lamb bhuna and just bought some patio furniture” quicker than any ordinary human could actually type that sentence. The junior detective will grow a moustache or be replaced by someone else who will. The senior detective will rigorously enforce the “Twenty four hours or you’re off the case” technique.

There will be a zero-tolerance approach to ghost-related crime. The sale of luminous paint within Midsomer will be prohibited and the full force of the law will come down on any miscreant who dresses up as a haunted deep sea diver in order to get the biscuit factory for themselves.

The final piece of the puzzle will be to recruit a local pensioner, ideally one who talks too much and seems to ramble on and on about nothing and then look perplexed once an hour saying something like “Oh dear, an egg-whisk – how could I have been so foolish as to miss that?”

[In the event that the old woman HAS a moustache, the junior detective at Midsomer can be laid off. Therefore, sales of Immac or other hair-removal products is banned to anyone over sixty-five in Midsomer ]

If these methods do not work, we know that getting all of the suspects into a room* and having a long rambling conversation where each person is almost accused in turn has a high success rate. That should be what happens in the 24th hour, if the case is not solved by then.  [*none of these suspects will bring a lawyer, or give a no comment interview, or even decline to attend the gathering]

My apologies for  (a) nonsense (b) lack of the powerpoint style pie charts and bar graphs that were in my mind when I thought of this nonsense and  (c) that the lecturer can’t quite decide whether he is English or American with some of his turns of phrase.  In fact, I’m just sorry overall for the whole thing.

“Oh, I did, I did, I did, I did”

I may be reading too much of the Telegraph this week (I blame John Bolch at Family Lore, who I am sure is buying two bottles of Buxton water and getting a free copy of the telegraph from a well-known newsagent).

This one is about a Supreme Court judge, Lord Wilson, giving a speech in Belfast, which included his comments that gay marriage and divorce and mixing of nuclear families post separation might not be a bad thing.  In the world of the Telegraph, this sort of thing is ‘controversial’

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10649774/Decline-of-nuclear-family-may-have-benefits-says-judge.html 

 

Anyway, that’s not the bit that struck me, it was this bit

 

Lord Wilson also pointed out that Australia allows a woman to wed her uncle, and France permits about 20 posthumous marriages to take place a year, if the surviving member of the couple can prove they were genuinely engaged.

 

That was actually news to me, and on doing a bit of digging (sorry, probably poor choice of word) I find that it is true.

You really can apply in France, if you have good evidence that a person who has died did intend to marry you, for a posthumous marriage. It doesn’t change any financial matters or inheritance (so you can’t wait until Rupert Murdoch dies, and then agree to marry him for the loot)

At the ceremony, the deceased is represented by a photograph, and rather than the bride/groom saying  “I do” they say “I did”   – the wording also misses out, for obvious reasons the “till death us do part” bit.

 It happened after a dam broke and killed a woman’s fiance and she wrote to the President to ask him to allow the marriage to happen anyway. He allowed it and the law was later changed to permit it. Lord Wilson does seem right that about 20 happen per year. [In my researches, I haven’t come across any MEN who have asked to marry their dead fiancee, only the other way around]

[Perhaps it is because I am in my own first month of marriage that I think this is rather sweet rather than freakish and morbid.  ]

 

Anyway, that tied in to something I read about a long time ago, and have been waiting for an opportunity to crowbar in, which is the trial of Pope Formosus.

Pope Formosus was Pope for just five years, 891 to 896. His reign as Pope was quite troubled and controversial. That would explain why he was put on trial.  One of his crimes was trying to escape the Vatican and escape being Pope  (which is described as “Conspiring to destroy the papal See”  – or if you are our last Pope, “resigning”)

 

What is slightly harder to explain is why his trial was two years after he died, in what is called the Cadaver Synod.

 

His successor, Pope Steven VI, had Formosus dug up, dressed in robes, sat on a chair and made him undergo a posthumous trial as the defendant. Steven served as prosecutor and Judge.  During the trial, a Deacon (appointed by Steven) answered all of the questions on behalf of Formosus.

 

I suspect that these answers were more on the lines of cringing admissions rather than spirited rebuttals.  Unsurprisingly, Formosus didn’t beat the rap, and as punishment, all of his papal orders were set aside, three of his fingers cut off and he was then thrown in a river. He was later fished out and buried.

 

There is a story, although this is disputed, that a later Pope, Sergius III was so taken with this that he also dug up poor Formosus again, put him on trial again and this time beheaded him.

 

Clearly in the “Big Book of Rainy Day Vatican City Games”,  there was a purple bookmark on the page “digging up previous Popes and putting them on trial for a laugh”

 

Under Stephen VI, the successor of Boniface, Emperor Lambert and Agiltrude recovered their authority in Rome at the beginning of 897, having renounced their claims to the greater part of Upper and Central Italy. Agiltrude being determined to wreak vengeance on her opponent even after his death, Stephen VI lent himself to the revolting scene of sitting in judgment on his predecessor, Formosus. At the synod convened for that purpose, he occupied the chair; the corpse, clad in papal vestments, was withdrawn from the sarcophagus and seated on a throne; close by stood a deacon to answer in its name, all the old charges formulated against Formosus under John VIII being revived. The decision was that the deceased had been unworthy of the pontificate, which he could not have validly received since he was bishop of another see. All his measures and acts were annulled, and all the orders conferred by him were declared invalid. The papal vestments were torn from his body; the three fingers which the dead pope had used in consecrations were severed from his right hand; the corpse was cast into a grave in the cemetery for strangers, to be removed after a few days and consigned to the Tiber

 

Catholic Encyclopaedia Chapter 13

 

This also reminds me that in my recent research into trial by ordeal (don’t ask) – whilst most of the ordeals were pretty grim (carry a red hot bar of iron for twenty paces, plunge your hand into scalding water for a minute  – if you don’t scar on either of those you are innocent) there’s one that was “Trial by Ingestion” just put the communion wafer [or dry bread and cheese] in your mouth and then eat it without choking. That seems to me to be the one I would have been advising clients to take. 

P-p-p pick up a penguin

 

I see a “Family Assistance Order” case flit across my screen, and have to look it up because they are orders that rarely involve case law, and there’s a lot of vagueness about them still.

Imagine my surprise when I see that this is a Falkland Islands case.

http://www.familylaw.co.uk/articles/family-assistance-order-re-c-family-assistance-order

In further surprise, there are a lot of similar terms in this case to ones used in the mainland (I wonder if, like the Isle of Man, the Falkland Islanders refer to themselves as the mainland, and the UK as “that island)

There are social workers, private fostering, guardians, wardship…

There are also criticisms by the Court of systemic failures in social work and legal practice and understanding. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

I also find that this, according to Bailii *, is the second reported case ever from the Falklands, the last being 1864.  That might explain why the social workers and lawyers were a bit rusty on their court skills. It also means that if you do happen to be a monthly subscriber to “Falkland Island Law Reports” you are about to get a bit of action. You probably forgot what that direct debit was for, after 150 years of silence.

I can’t wait to see the full judgment now, because I am (a) sad (b) easily pleased and  (c) hoping that one of the anonymous referrers might be a penguin.  “Place your right fin on this book and squawk after me…”

I do wonder how the whole President’s notion of transparency would work in the Falklands, where the population is just under 3,000 people. I imagine these people might be able to work out from the one published case every 150 years who it might be about.

I also want to know from the author of that article whether she just read this report online, or whether she flew out to Goose Green Magistrates Court to hear the historic moment for herself.

 

 

*Bailii might be wrong, and the Falkland Island courts may be a hotbed of activity, but it suits my purpose more to believe that they are right

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy (or girl)

 

We do get to see some unusual names within our line of work, and sometimes we do wonder why the Registrar didnt counsel the parents ought of it. (I understand that in France, their equivalent of a Registrar has a right of veto on names)

This piece came my way care of Freakonomics, which was reporting a child who had been named Colt .45 after the handgun.  The parents actually posted a comment on the subsequent discussion and they seemed to me like very reasonable and nice people.

Freakonomics is very good on the consequences of names in later life, and what it is that parents are signifying, sometimes subconsciously, when they select a name. They have also done extensive research about the social migration of names (how names that are used by very rich people tend to find their way into poorer families by way of aspiration over time and then get dropped by the rich people) .

  They also reported on the life experiences of two brothers, one named “Lucky” and one named “Unlucky”   [And they report a similar case of two brothers with the surname Fail, one named “Will” and one “Never”

 

Anyway, in this report, a US Judge forcibly changes a baby’s name from  “Messiah” to “Martin”

 http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/08/12/211348996/judge-orders-babys-name-changed-from-messiah 

Peculiarly, it turns out that “Messiah” as a name for a child in America has hit the top 400 and is one of the fastest growing names.  {Of course, it occurs to me that Jesus is not that uncommon a name in Spain or Latin America, though I think it would raise some eyebrows in the UK}   Time will tell then, whether being named Messiah causes you problems in life, or whether it is empowering, or makes no difference at all.

 

Looking at this also threw up a report on a baby named “Storm” in America in 2011, whose parents decided that they were going to try to raise Storm as a genderless child and not tell anyone whether Storm was a boy or a girl. The idea presumably being that the child would form their own personality and tastes, free from gender stereotyping. Wonder if they are still doing it?

 The detail I like from this is passers-by slowing down their cars if they saw the family on the sidewalk so that they could shout “Boy!” at this baby.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/12/26/the_genderless_baby_who_caused_a_storm_of_controversy_in_2011.html

{I found a British couple that had done the same thing, which lasted until their child was five, and primary school made being genderless pretty tricky}

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9028479/Couple-raise-child-as-gender-neutral-to-avoid-stereotyping.html

 

This is curious though, it turns out that people do act different towards even babies depending on what they believe their gender to be

One 1975 study, published in the journal Sex Roles, put 42 non-parents in a room with a 3-month-old baby and three toys: a football, a doll and a gender-neutral teething ring. A third of the volunteers were told the baby was a girl, a third thought the baby was a boy, and a third were told that the experimenter couldn’t recall if the baby was a boy or a girl.

Unsurprisingly, when the volunteers thought the baby was a girl rather than a boy, they were much more likely to offer “her” a doll to play with. If they didn’t know the baby’s gender, the male volunteers tended to go for the teething ring, while women offered the baby the doll. That could mean that women see dolls as less gendered, or it could mean that the men in the study hewed more strictly to gender roles.

Overall, people held and touched the baby less if they thought “she” was a girl. When they didn’t know the sex, a gender difference emerged again: Men held the unknown baby less, while women held the baby more.

Riddle me this, Batman

 

Ah, the joys of insomnia. I started thinking about this idly at 4.00am, and had to get up to write it.

This is a litle mindbending puzzle, not law related.  I have a collection of words here, which I have shuffled so that they aren’t in order. The words all have something in common. Sadly I don’t have a full set (it may be impossible to complete the full set, as I haven’t been able to think of the missing ones yet)

 

Can you work out what they have in common, and better yet, come up with some of the missing ones?  If you want to work on this without spoilers, probably avoid reading the comments – I have some very smart readers and I’m sure some of them will get there.

 

In random order then

 

Type, Bone, Movie, Sign, Spot, Cars, Line, Cloth, Ray, Zone, Section, Pad, Chromosome, Bomb, Notice, Word

 

And in case that is driving you to despair, can I recommend Seanbaby’s diatribe about the pointlessness of the Riddler as a bad guy

“What’s green and purple and commits lots of crime / Whose superpower is wasting your time?”

http://www.seanbaby.com/superfriends/riddler.htm

And if you develop a taste for Seanbaby’s humour, http://www.seanbaby.com/personal/americarules.htm

in which Sean decides to cook and prepare a meal, using his iron chef rules that he has to buy all of the ingredients in foreign food supermarkets and “I may only buy a food item or food-like item if it is NOT labelled in English and I have absolutely no idea what it is”

 

Standard letter

 

For the attention of His/Her Honour Judge _____________

 

 

RE: The  ______________ Children Case number ______________

 

I am writing to apply on behalf of the Local Authority for an extension of time for the filing of final evidence. This evidence was due to be filed by Friday 25th October at 4.00pm. It is possible that the Local Authority will not be able to file this evidence until 4.21pm on Friday 25th October, and as a result of the Court of Appeal decision in Re W, I now have to apply to the Court for an extension to that deadline before it expires.

In large part, the reason for the deadline potentially being missed as that as a result of the Court of Appeal decisions in Re G, Re B-S and Re W (no, a different one) all of which are attached, stringent new requirements on what must go into the Local Authority evidence have arrived in rapid succession, and therefore not only is it taking social workers longer to write statements incorporating a wholly different way of analysing the welfare checklist, comparing the various options for placement and having to devise five care plans instead of one, it is also taking me longer as a lawyer to check those statements against the various requirements of Court of Appeal decisions which are coming at the rate of one per week.

In order to make this application, I have prepared a C2 form, raised a cheque, drafted an order showing how the delay will affect the timetable (hint, I have broadly taken the existing timetable and every time it said “4.00pm” I have changed that to “4.21pm”.   I also had to contact the three other parties to share this with them, they all had to obtain instructions and then send me a signed copy of the draft order back.  Fortuitously, every single one of them was in when they got my message, and their clients answered the phone calls and gave them prompt instructions. How wonderful.

Despite this being a consent order, it is still subject to judicial scrutiny and the Court is of course not a rubber stamp, so I have made provision for an hour of consideration (taking into account that the file has to be brought up, the matter looked at and an order drawn up and sent out). The very latest moment the application could be lodged was therefore 3.00pm.

As the Court office is not responsive after 2.00pm due to staffing cuts and austerity, I had to ensure that the order was lodged with the Court by 1.00pm, however as that is the lunchhour, I moved that back to 12.00pm. I was then informed that the Judges all sit from 10.00 until 1.00 and cannot be disturbed, so I invented a time machine and went back in time so that the application was formally lodged with the Court by 9.00am on Friday. That meant knowing that it was needed by Thursday afternoon, to give me time to get consents from all the other parties. Luckily, with my time machine, I knew a day and a half before the document was due that it would be 21 minutes late.  [However, I also peeked into the future and read your judgment from the final hearing, so I had some more tweaks to make to the statement, so it will be 4.22 pm now. Shall we start over, or are we just going to be cool about the additional minute?]

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to seeing the draft order approving the extension, which will of course arrive at 3.59pm or before.

 

 

[Dear Suesspicious Minds, I hear you have been doing those Sarcasm Managment Courses with "Living Without Sarcasm"  - how are they working out?

Oh, they're AMA-Z-ING ]

 

Apropos of absolutely nothing, here’s a beautiful painting of a roman emperor

 

lovely painting by Waterhouse, nothing to do with anything, it just looked nice

lovely painting by Waterhouse, nothing to do with anything, it just looked nice

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