Posts Tagged ‘ Criminal solicitor ’


YOU KNOW YOU ARE GETTING OLDER…..

Written by admin
September 23rd, 2019

They used to say you know you’re getting older when the police officers look younger.  Then they used to say you know you’re getting older when the magistrates start looking younger.  For those of us practising in Nottingham it’s going to be a question of you know you’re getting older when the police stations start looking younger.

Back in 1995 a brand new £28m custody facility opened on the banks of the Trent Canal in Nottingham.  It was linked to the new, all-singing, all-dancing Magistrates’ Court.  The Magistrates’ Court itself was something of which the city was so proud they decided to licence its foyer for wedding ceremonies.  Concerts took place on the paved area outside the police station and it was deemed to be “the police station of the future”.

The custody sergeants were housed on a raised platform, which resembled nothing more than the deck of the Starship Enterprise.  There were more computers in the custody suite than there had been on Apollo 11 and the entire facility was watched over by a “new-fangled” CCTV system.

24 years on and it has all changed.  The talk is the closure and the building of a new “all-singing-all-dancing” not to mention “new-fangled” police station on a wasteland in a part of the city which has been calculated to be closest to most of the incidents to which officers are called.  The fact that the new police station will not link to any court buildings and will necessitate hundreds of thousands of pounds per year being spent on transporting prisoners, is a mere incidental.

For those of us who saw the police move from The Guildhall cells and the old Central Police Station to the brand new Bridewell, we can only reflect on the passing of time and the arrival of yet another generation of both police stations and criminal solicitors in Nottingham.

DEATH BY ONE AND A HALF THOUSAND CUTS

Written by admin
August 17th, 2019

The latest stealthy slice to be taken out of the criminal justice system comes in the form of a reduction of Crown Court hearing days.

We all know that to run a Crown Court is expensive.  We all know that to close a Crown Court will save money.  Unfortunately, closing a Crown Court means that cases are not heard, which has very little cost in financial terms but often huge costs in terms of the effect on defendants, complainants and witnesses, their emotions and their general wellbeing. It also means of course that neither Counsel nor solicitors are in a position to submit a bill, because a hearing has been postponed and the case has not been finished.  In some courts this means that the case will have to be put off for another eight or nine months, awaiting a trial slot. This inevitably means that the expense of prosecuting the case and defending it is moved skilfully into another tax year.

How many Crown Court hearing days do you think have been cut from the next Crown Court year?  Perhaps you think 1,000, or maybe 2,000, maybe as many as 5,000 – but surely not as that would obviously be unjust.  Perhaps you think 7,500 or even 10,000, but yet again, surely both of those figures are utterly unbelievable.  If you were to think 15,000, in short, you would be right.  Yes, 15,000 Crown Court hearing days have been cut from the next judicial year.

That’s 15,000 days when cases could be concluded, when witnesses could be put out of their misery, when complainants could get closure, when defendants could move on with their lives, be it in custody or as free people.  That’s 15,000 days when rehabilitation might have started or punishment might have been meted out.  Thanks to the Ministry of Justice and arguably the Treasury, all of these things have to be put on hold, whilst money is lavished on health, police, the armed forces, and who knows what else.

AWARD FOR FRAUDS

Written by admin
August 20th, 2018

In recent years more and more firms of solicitors are claiming to have been awarded batches of excellence of tokens of recognition for the work they do for the people they employ.  Some of these are entirely proper and are well recognised Kitemarks such as the SQM (Specialist Quality Mark) or the Lexcel Accreditation.  Some awards are slightly less transparent!  The “East Midlands Best Advocate”, the “North East Best Practice Manager”, the “Most Go Ahead Medium Sized Firm in the Manchester Area” might all lead to a sceptically raised eyebrow.

The true worth, and may we say voracity of some of the claims made on a number of websites are a matter for a certain amount of speculation.

Who decided?  Who applied?  What is “The North East”?  When was the decision made?  How often is the competition run?  How rigorously monitored is the award process?  Is it all really a load of hogwash or claptrap?  How stupid do we think the public really are?

At The Johnson Partnership we reckon we prefer rewards to awards!  We reckon the best reward that we can have day in day out is a satisfied client and we hope you will agree that’s worth a bucket load of multi-coloured rosettes.

TIME TO STRESS ABOUT MENTAL WELLBEING

Written by admin
July 13th, 2018

It is a sad truth that criminal law is less and less attractive in many respects for new arrivals in the profession. Rates of pay are relatively meagre. Hours of work are prodigious. Working conditions, around police stations, prisons, hospitals and desperate conditions in clients’ homes, are some of the worst.

Throughout the last two or three years a new problem has started to emerge which is perhaps more alarming than all the rest. Both at the bar and in solicitors’ offices throughout the area, more and more professionals are having to take time away from work to cope with mental health difficulties.

For some, it is simply the volume of work, which, increases as we have to do more to avoid earning considerably less.

For some, it is the constant drag of the sort of work that they are having to confront day in day out. In particular, the growth in the number of historic allegations of sexual abuse is something that has taken its toll on a number of practitioners.

For some, the pressure of examinations, when combined with a heavy case load has simply been too much.

There can be no doubting that firms are going to have to take a real interest in the work and home lives of staff to try to avoid problems mounting up. Stress and anxiety can turn a happy life into a living hell. If staff or partners are unable to talk about the difficulties they are experiencing firms will just be creating the sort of problems that are likely to mean that any time and money spent on training and professional development is likely to be thrown away.

A caring, friendly, open environment is going to be absolutely essential if we are going to be able to retain skill, knowledge and expertise within our criminal colleagues.

NOTHING MEEK ABOUT THE NEW FORCE IN CHESTERFIELD

Written by Sian Hall
February 1st, 2018

On 15th January 2018, after almost ten years with the firm, Karl Meakin stepped out on his own account in the Magistrates’ Court.  An experienced prison lawyer, Karl is now strengthening the team of Chesterfield advocates comprised of Bob Sowter, Kirsty Sargent, and the inestimable John Wilford.

Karl will also be continuing to carrying on preparation and advocacy work for the Prison Law Team throughout the country.

The Chesterfield advocates are ably backed up by Richard Pell, Lucy Hooper, Yasmin James-Birch, and Lynda Gilbert.

With John’s added qualities as a regulatory specialist, the team has not only depth but considerable breadth.

Bob Sowter brings with him not only massive expertise in terms of adult and youth crime, but also a history of work carried out on behalf of the road haulage sector, which has ably equipped him to deal with a broader than average range of road traffic and vehicle related issues.

The remarkable Kirsty Sargent is the beating heart of the team, an excellent advocate and a superb organiser and administrator.

Karl could hardly be joining a finer group of lawyers who should ease him to greatness at an early stage.

THE GHOST TRAIN BECOMES THE LOVE TRAIN

Written by Sian Hall
November 23rd, 2017

As another date for submission of CDS12 form disappears over the horizon we are left reflecting on how different it is now to recruit new duty solicitors.  In short, all the criteria has changed.

Under the new 2017 Contract it is no longer sufficient to have somebody who will turn up to perform the obligatory amount of court and police station appearances while primarily working as freelance on their own account or even, who knows, as Tesco shelf stacker.

The new way is to bring somebody in for two or three days a week to ensure that they have their 14 hours carefully logged and stashed away for checking.

The October submission date saw us involve ourselves in lengthy interviews with a number of people, who we all hoped would be suitable recruits.

The new system brings with it closer scrutiny and a real consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of a duty solicitor candidate.  On this occasion it would be fair and honest to say that we had interviewed and made offers to three people who decided not to join us, but stay where they were.  Equally, we interviewed another three people at considerable length, to whom we decided not to make an offer.  The time invested in the recruitment process was quite significant particularly when this entails ticking fee-earning Partners away from their day to day labours.

We are delighted to say, however, that we have been successful in recruiting two wholly new duty solicitors as well as the lovely Helen Nicholson who will be returning to the fold.  All in all, the process has been an interesting and very enlightening one on a great many levels.

PRISON LAW FOR ALL

Written by Sian Hall
October 20th, 2017

After months of consideration, The Johnson Partnership now have a freshly printed leaflet containing advice and guidance for newly incarcerated prisoners.

 

Any Johnson Partnership client who finds themselves remanded into custody on a new charge, or sentenced to a term of custody, will immediately be provided with the Prison Law Guide.

 

Lovingly crafted by Euan Edwards and Devon Broome, the new leaflet sets out to answer questions that would trouble many prisoners facing an adjudication, or a review of many sorts. Our objective is to ensure that all clients know who to ask and where to find them within the firm if they have any questions that require an answer, whether or not the particular issuecomes within the scope of the current legal aid regime.

 

Many congratulations to Euan and Devon for their hard work!

SHAZIA PARVEEN ON THE SCENE

Written by Sian Hall
July 11th, 2017

We are delighted to announce that from July 2017 Shazia Parveen is to join us at our Sheffield office. Situated in the John Banner Business Centre at 620 Attercliffe Road, Shazia will be well-positioned between Sheffield Magistrates’ Court and Shepcote Lane Police Station.

 

For many years Shazia Parveen has been the queen of Howells Criminal team. We count ourselves particularly lucky that she has agreed to transfer her allegiances and release her flat in our own Sheffield realm.

 

Shazia is well-renowned for her work both in police stations and at the Magistrates’ Court. Bail hearings, sentencing hearings, trials, Youth Court proceedings and all the rest of the daily fare of Magistrates’ Court life are meat and drink to Shazia.

 

We look forward to welcoming Shazia among us and hope that she is going to feel as positive about her new home as we do.

LINKED-IN IN LINCOLN

Written by Will Bolam
May 2nd, 2017

Well, it’s happened! The Lincoln office is finally open for business. Phone lines installed. Desks erected. Filing cabinets primed and ready for action.

It is hard to express just how exciting it is to start a new office from scratch. The last time that The Johnson Partnership opened an office that wasn’t linked to an existing practice was July 1st 1990 when we first opened as a firm.

Taking us back to those early days of counting up how many police station cases we have dealt with and court appearances we have attended by week. Horrible disappointments of case-less days and the wild excitement of having to bring in more people to cope with the sudden influx are almost too much to bear.

The unbridled enthusiasm of Vicki Clayton and her team is a joy to behold. There can be no group of legal professionals who are as desperately dedicated to providing a class client service as The Johnson Partnership Lincoln squad.

The desire to make something work both from scratch is undoubtedly one of the most powerful drivers in any service industry.

With help available from the Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Mansfield, and Nottingham offices the Lincoln team know there is a massive reservoir of help at hand as well as a big crowd waiting to cheer their success.

CHRISTMAS CALLING

Written by Will Bolam
December 20th, 2016

With the festive season close at hand courts inevitably turn to who exactly is going to be providing cover over the Christmas period.

Inevitably, as we have the last 26 years, the firm’s solicitors and clerks will be providing cover for Police Stations and Courts around the Christmas period. Rotas for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire have already been drawn up.

Thanks to our successful bid for the Criminal Defence Direct Call Centre, we find ourselves with the new, and slightly more complicated challenge of ensuring that we have call centre staff available for every minute of the Christmas period to offer advice to Police Station detainees who don’t qualify for assistance under the General Criminal Contract.

The inestimable Rosemary Holland has been responsible for preparing the 24 Hour Rota for Christmas and the New Year, which she seems to have resolved over a month ahead of time. We would like to offer special thanks to Rosemary for all her hard work and particular thanks to those who are going to be working on the emergency lines at CDD while Santa is doing his rounds.

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