Posts Tagged ‘ Magistrates’ court ’


THE RISE AND RISE OF THE DEFERRED SENTENCE

Written by admin
May 27th, 2019

Some years ago both Magistrates’ and Crown Court judges were actively dissuaded from deferring sentence. A sentence that was deferred was thought to be a sentence that was taking a price as much of the court’s time as was really necessary. There was a sense that deferring was an indication of weakness or an inability to make a decision.

Happily, in recent times the deferred sentence has seen a considerable resurgence. A deferred sentence gives the courts an opportunity to see what a particular client is made of. By setting goals that the defendant can work towards over a three, four, five, or six month period, a court is able to get the true measure of an individual’s determination or present trajectory.

Sometimes the court will require that a client simply stays out of trouble, on other occasions they will look for appointments to be kept, negative drugs tests to be provided, employment to be found or opportunities to be taken up.

At the point when sentenced is passed, the court will have a very clear sense of whether a particular defendant is somebody with whom the court can work or whom the court can trust with a non-custodial sentencing option.

The return of the deferred sentence is an indication that courts are looking to reach the right decision, rather than just getting the case off their books at the earliest opportunity. There is nothing wrong with those who prefer to defer!

GOOD MORNING MA’AM

Written by admin
April 7th, 2019

The Johnson Partnership are delighted to confirm the appointment of Emma Coverley as a Deputy District Judge in the Civil Division.

Emma joined us in 2001 as a clerk in the Magistrates’ Court Department. Since then she has qualified as a solicitor, worked in our Mansfield office, qualified as a Higher Rights Advocate and gone on to enjoy many notable victories in the Crown Courts of the East Midlands and South Yorkshire as well as in the Court of Appeal.

Emma has never wanted to stand still. Developing the firm’s Higher Rights Advocacy Department was an indication that she was somebody wanting to break new ground in a positive and sustainable way.

Her application to become a Deputy District Judge is an indication that she is someone who will always look for the next horizon and try to push herself further and further in terms of her knowledge of the law and practice.

We all wish you well Emma and hope that you enjoy as much success as our only other appointment to the Bench: District Judge Gerald Chalk who has judged the people of Cumbria with a gentle, fair and even hand for the past fifteen years.

PHASED WITHDRAWAL

Written by admin
March 25th, 2019

Within the area of the country covered by The Johnson Partnership offices we have noticed an interesting if worrying phenomenon.

In the town of Buxton there used to be a thriving Magistrates’ Court and a custody suite which covered the entirety of the northwest of Derbyshire from Matlock to Glossop and from Hartington over to Baslow. This is a huge area of land and a good number of people in its radius.

In the second round of cuts, the Magistrates’ Court, which has long since served this thriving market town was closed. Work was transferred to Chesterfield stage by stage. Initially custody cases were transferred to Chesterfield and then there was a total closure leading to all matters being heard in a court over thirty miles away, with no train link between the two and a somewhat ponderous bus service.

The next step was for the custody suite to be downgraded. Increasingly, prisoners who were likely to be in custody for more than six hours, were being dealt with at Chesterfield rather than Buxton. Inevitably, it soon became a police station where a vast majority of interviewees were those attending on a voluntary basis.

The Duty Solicitor Scheme for Buxton has slowly been wound down. Solicitors have to choose their slots on either the Chesterfield or Stockport rotas.

We now therefore have a town with no court, no meaningful custody suite, no Duty Solicitor Scheme, and very very few solicitors serving that entire region.

MEAKIN MAKES GOOD

Written by admin
August 26th, 2018

There was never any doubt that Karl Meakin was going to be a true asset to the firm as a young solicitor.

Karl has had ten years’ experience with the firm in many different capacities.  In the summer of 2018 Karl is finally able to demonstrate his full potential as a Duty Solicitor.

Having been admitted to the role earlier in the year Karl has made it onto the first possible duty rota, even though it has been at some personal cost.

The limited number of occasions on which it is possible to take the Magistrates’ Court qualification examination led to some madcap chasing around for Karl.  The qualification exam coincided with the day on which he was to be attending at Chancery Lane for his admission ceremony.  Mad dashes to Liverpool and then a high speed race to London to make both appointments left Karl worn out and in need of a restorative drink or two.

We cannot thank Karl enough for all his efforts, both this year and in the past, and we wish him all the best as a rising star of the Chesterfield office.

Trouble with Trading Standards

Written by admin
July 27th, 2018

A small but significant number of prosecutions are brought by the various Trading Standards Departments of councils up and down the land. Each Trading Standards Department is responsible for its own prosecutions and many consult the relatively few Barristers who have experience in this field.

At the present time, the Digital Case System, which operates across the Crown Courts of England and Wales, is not equipped to accept Trading Standards prosecutions. All cases are prosecuted following the provision of significant amounts of written evidence in good old-fashioned paper form.

The usual case management forms, which govern the progress of almost all Crown Court cases, simply don’t apply to Trading Standards cases.

To defend successfully against prosecutions by Trading Standards Departments, it is important to have great skill and resources available to devote to those particular cases.

Where the cases relate to poor trade practices in terms of building, plumbing, electrical work or the like, the selling of products with fake brand names, the misleading of members of the public in terms of paperwork provided or any of the other realms of matters that come Trading Standard’s way, The Johnson Partnership can help.

Many cases of course can be resolved during the investigation stage of the police station by providing appropriate information and entering into fruitful negotiations. Where cases are resolved at this early stage, a great deal of heartache can be saved for both those under investigation and also those who have either been misled or wrongly charged.

Where cases do have to proceed either to the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court, our specialist teams, spread across all of our ten offices, are able to assist. They obtain the best possible results whatever the nature of the allegation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Go In Grimsby

Written by admin
July 9th, 2018

It is fair to say that the gender balance of our Grimsby and Scunthorpe Magistrates’ Court operation has changed somewhat. At the start of the year we benefitted from the considerable experience of Kate Fairburn and Rachel Hunter, who were soon augmented by the arrival of the young and enthusiastic Rachel Pomer.

One offer of a job as Senior Crown Prosecutor with no overtime commitments, another offer to be a Magistrates’ Court Legal Advisor, again without overtime, and an offer to be a Fee-Earning Manager elsewhere, saw all three lured to pastures new.

The inestimable Sunny Dinser was left holding an ever growing fort, with the support of Tarryn Guest and various part time colleagues.

It is with some considerable delight that we are now able to announce the arrival of new and quite inspirational replacements.

Nigel Sloane has joined us from Roy Forman’s in Grimsby. With many years’ experience locally and further afield, Nigel is a skilled operator in the Crown Court, the Magistrates’ Court and when giving Police Station advice. He has been joined by Mark Luckett from our Derby Office, he is going to be assisting in Grimsby at least for the next five or six months. Our new hot recruit Torrel Hector is the final new team member. Torrel has shown himself to be as hungry and vigorous as anyone we have recruited for some years. Setting out his stall in Scunthorpe and Grimsby gives him a change to prove that he is indeed the real deal.

Much credit needs to go to Mark who, at a time when things looked bleak on the recruitment front, made a generous and unbelievably accommodating offer to divide his time between Derby and Grimsby and was something that we would never have dared ask, but equally something for which we are enormously grateful.

Time will tell how the new team form in the ever changing Humberside market, but early signs are more than good and we wish them all the best.

THE MATHS ADD UP FOR LOONY LISTING

Written by Sian Hall
March 27th, 2018

Few can truly doubt the integrity of Crown Court Listing Departments throughout the country. Certainly, Crown Courts in Nottingham, Sheffield, Derby, Lincoln, and Grimsby all bear the hallmarks of hardworking teams of people with a good understanding trying to do their best for everyone.

Nevertheless, the fact that listing is a problem is something that cannot be doubted. This week, on one day, the firm had six trials, all removed from the list at less than 48 hours’ notice. There was undoubtedly good reason for this. The courts in which the cases were due to be heard were busy indeed throughout the rest of the week. With one exception, all of the cases went off to new trial dates in August.

In spite of howls of derision from the profession, the MOJ have stoically refused to do anything about the problem. There is scope to agree to further judge sitting days! There is scope to designate empty Magistrates’ Court facilities as temporary Crown Courts. Sadly, both of the above require extra funding.

It is not just that extra funding hits the MOJ’s current budget. In reality, there is a twofold gain for the Ministry. By not spending money on judges and extra courtrooms, they avoid unintended and unexpected expense. By ensuring that cases are adjourned for a period of four to five months equally ensure that the bills to be submitted by advocates and litigators for those matters fall into the next financial year. Indeed, there is also the third potential benefit of complainants or defendants losing the will to fight, or cases being side-tracked by new charges or new proceedings, which can lead to extra savings as trials fail to take place at all.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that delay and adjournments are the sole brothers and sisters of a financially hamstrung Ministry of Justice.

THE INS AND OUTS OF LEICESTER

Written by Sian Hall
March 15th, 2018

Isn’t it strange how some journeys are just “too much”. Geographically it may be exactly the same length as innumerable, comparable journeys, but one way or another they never work.

This particular predicament has been highlighted by us being offered the services of not one but two Leicester based solicitors who are looking to jump ship and move firm. Both solicitors are high quality candidates at different points in successful careers. With a Nottingham or Derby base, there could be no doubt that we would be delighted to avail ourselves of their services. Sadly, however, bitter experience shows that a life spent travelling between Leicester and Nottingham or Leicester and Derby tends to be a short one and not a particularly merry one.

Servicing police stations in Leicester never seems to be a problem. To reach into Leicester to attend a police station or at the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court has never been a difficulty. Reaching out from Leicester to do a job based in Derby or Nottingham is something that has just never worked. Derby to Nottingham: yes! Nottingham to Derby: Yes! Nottingham to Lincoln (a longer journey): Yes! But Leicester to Nottingham or Leicester to Derby: just “No”.

SARAH BROWN IS BACK IN TOWN!

Written by Sian Hall
February 13th, 2018

We are delighted to welcome Sarah Brown to our Sheffield office. A skilled advocate in both the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court, Sarah has kindly agreed to augment our Sheffield office two days each week, whilst continuing to teach law and practice at Sheffield College.

The combination of practical fee-earning work and the understanding that comes with the need to impart knowledge to others, will benefit both the firm and Sarah’s students alike.

We are looking forward to the benefits that are bound to come from bringing somebody on board who has a wealth of experience and an independent and critical eye. Inevitably, benefits will not just flow to students and to members of staff, there is bound to be a real dividend for our growing Sheffield client base.

OUT OF TOWN IS OUT OF MIND

Written by Sian Hall
December 12th, 2017

In a time when more and more firms of solicitors are moving to sites outside of city centres with modern facilities and parking outside the front door, The Johnson Partnership has made a conscious decision to remain true to our inner city roots.

In recent times we have had to give consideration to whether or not we could better serve our clients by moving to locations on business parks or new developments anywhere between a mile or three miles from their local town or city centre.

Although the prospect of ample parking and high speed broadband are immensely tempting, we have always been left reflecting how inaccessible such premises would be to the vast majority of our clients. Even though they could travel to offices by private car they have still expressed the opinion that they would rather tie in a trip to the solicitors with a visit to other city centre locations, rather than having to make a special trip to the middle of somewhere approaching nowhere.

The proximity to courts, police stations, Crown Prosecution Service offices, and the like gives us an unassailable advantage when it comes to looking after clients arrested on warrants, requiring quick interviews or needing urgent conferences.

While it can be true that there is relatively little passing trade for criminal solicitors, it is equally true that many clients with current cases will want to call in for a quick but urgent reassurance.

As far as staff are concerned, the prospect of palatial premises with accountants and government departments as neighbours is tempting; but never quite as tempting as the stores, bars, cafes, and restaurants of a good old town or city centre.

There is of course an argument to suggest that our slightly unusually situated Sheffield office breaks the mould. While not in a new purpose built professional palace, it does occupy the singular and characterful premises of the old Banners Department store loved by thousands!

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