Posts Tagged ‘ Criminal Defence Solicitors ’


Kitchen table interviews

Written by admin
July 22nd, 2020

Throughout lockdown many interviews carried out at both Derby and Chesterfield custody suites have taken place remotely.

Whether it is a week day morning or the middle of a week day night officers have been keen to limit footfall by arranging for solicitors to attend police interviews over Skype, and sometimes over the telephone.

These interviews are obviously far from ideal but they are a way of ensuring that detainees still receive proper professional advice and sometimes they avoid the inevitable delay that can follow when a solicitor has to travel to the police station when the police have been late in notifying them of the interview time.

There was a period of time when Chesterfield police station was not allowing any defence representatives to attend for interview at all. St Marys Wharf police station in Derby has allowed for some attendance although for a while it was discouraged.

By having at least five people on call at any one time we have been able to deal with virtual interviews as and whenever they have been called for. Defence representatives from the Johnson Partnership have taken time to get to know clients and put them at their ease before sharing with them the information that has been obtained from the police and then advising them about how to deal with the forthcoming interviews.

Whenever possible we have continued to attend for interviews because we firmly believe that face to face contact with any detainee is the best way of guaranteeing a strong meaningful and beneficial working relationship!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

Written by admin
July 1st, 2020

Can you believe it!? 30 years ago today a rag tag bunch of vagabonds and their hangers on left Truman and Appleby to start out on their own special journey. Of the 10 people who walked through the door on the first morning four remain, even though one is currently on sabbatical. Bill, Chris and Digby remain as partners but they have been joined by the fourth first day member Emma Eardley who on the 1st July 1990 was our office junior.

Friends have come and gone over the years and we are grateful to them one and all. So many people have helped to make the Johnson Partnership the firm it is today!

Over the years we have fought shy of parties and celebrations always coming up with a reason not to do it. We solemnly promise that when COVID-19 is a thing of the past we will have the biggest party this firm has ever seen and everyone who has ever darkened our door will be welcome.

Here is to the next 30!

FOOTBALL LAWYERS FOR FOOTBALL LAW

Written by admin
June 29th, 2020

For many years the Johnson Partnership have had a team of lawyers spread across all of our 11 offices who specialise, amongst other things, in dealing with football related matters.

Running on the pitch, throwing items from the stands, and chanting offences are all covered by the 1991 Football (Offences) Act. Riot, violent disorder, affray, breaches of the peace, weapons offences, and breaches of football banning orders are all matters which give rise to prosecutions more or less frequently.

It is important to note, particularly during the current spate of matches being played behind closed doors that many offences that might attract a football banning order and indeed far more swinging penalties can be committed well away from the football ground.

The use of police spotters and the wide availability of CCTV can mean that fans are arrested long after a match has been completed. The matters for which they are being arrested might have occurred at a transport hub, a bar, a shopping centre, or just on a public street. A common tactic of the police is to warn fans to attend for a voluntary interview often in the hope they will not have a lawyer with them. The interview will be under caution and it is just as relevant as a interview carried out when somebody is under arrest.

It is vital for all fans to know whether they are in custody or been asked to attend as a volunteer they can have someone with them free of charge. Our solicitors have attended football related interviews in places as far apart as London and Carlisle, Sunderland and Bournemouth. We are happy to attend in person so that we can provide continuity of service throughout any investigation or prosecution.

As far as football banning orders are concerned our team are experts in avoiding, discharging, and contesting breaches of banning orders of all sorts.

Wherever you are asked to attend for an interview or in order to answer a summons or in relation to a charge you can rely upon a Johnsons solicitor being with you home or away.

The absence of a court in the holy city of Scunthorpe hasn’t meant that it has been ignored by The Johnson Partnership even in the dark days of the Coronavirus.

Sunny Dhinsa, Lauren Fisher and Lynsey Theaker can all be contacted on the usual office number. They will all be available to offer help, advice and assistance. Representation at court and at the police station is available to all, as and when it is required in the usual way.

Please don’t think that the people of Scunthorpe have been forgotten in a difficult time. We know that the police and courts are still working and you can rely on The Johnson Partnership to be there to assist.

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.

ADVERTISING PUFF!

Written by admin
August 15th, 2018

The relaxation of restrictions on solicitors’ advertising has led to a world of change.  There will be those who regard it as unseemly and demeaning, to see solicitors claim to be “The best”, “The Cheapest”, “The Fastest”, etc., etc.

In recent times solicitors have claimed to be “The Most Caring”, “Friendly and Discreet” and, although you might think it would go without saying, “Professional”.

At The Johnson Partnership we have spent a lot of time wondering exactly what we ought to be claiming for ourselves.  Perhaps we should emphasise that we are “Any time, any place, anywhere”, like a good Martini.  Perhaps we should claim to “Put the freshness back” into law, although that might make us sound like a 1980’s Shake & Vac advert.  You could imagine there being a great deal of hilarity among the marketing partners.

On balance, and all things considered, what we reckon we would like to be as a firm of solicitors, is what British Airways used to claim they were as an airline which is of course “The World’s Favourite”.  When all is said and done, it is hard to disprove!

STUMBLING CPS GIVEN A LEG UP BY MOJ

Written by Sian Hall
February 16th, 2018

In recent times it has become apparent that many cases are either failing or being brought to court late as a result of difficulties and deficiencies within the Crown Prosecution Service.

This week, the Today programme was told that over 900 cases have failed in the course of last year because of lack of disclosure. Repeatedly, courts see charges being laid that do not match the facts leaving cases apparently under or over prosecuted. Time and again the Crown Prosecution Service rely on the courts to sort out the difficulties.

It has recently become apparent that a substantial budgetary increase has been afforded to the Crown Prosecution Service to enable them to recruit staff nationwide. Promises of rising pay scales and advantageous pensions are being dangled to lure lawyers on board.

The reality is of course is that most lawyers who are in a position to join the Crown Prosecution Service will either come from the independent bar or the defence community. By offering newly revamped salary packages, the Crown Prosecution Service inevitably put a strain on the defence community by drawing in-house some experienced defenders who are looking for a life without on-call commitments and day to day contact with some particularly difficult clients.

These defence services have struggled to recruit, fighting a losing battle against employers in the civil, commercial, private client, and even family areas, where instant fees can be significantly greater than those available to the average defence firm.

Whilst skewing the marketplace and slanting the playing field in the way that they are doing, the MOJ simply bring more stresses and problems to a different part of the criminal justice process. An equal distribution of funds between the Crown Prosecution Service and the defence community would obviously seem the more appropriate way of ensuring that the entire sector is well staffed. Instead of this, the MOJ have sought to impose a further legal aid cut on the very firms keeping the system afloat.

The only good news is that retention amongst Crown Prosecution Service staff, including those who have joined in the last three to six months, is poor. The lack of job satisfaction, the factory mentality, the lack of thanks and appreciation and the poor morale etc, within the Crown Prosecution Service have seen a number of new joiners leave forthwith, with some of them asking to return to their former posts.

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.

FLEXIBLE COURT PILOT IS PARLIAMENTARY REFLEX

Written by Sian Hall
August 28th, 2017

All of our staff who regularly work around the Sheffield Magistrates’ Court seem likely to be caught up in the government’s new flexible court pilot starting in September.

 

The proposals will see the Sheffield Magistrates’ Court opening for business at 08:00am and sitting until 6:30pm.

 

There has been a lot of focus on the effect this will have on the personal lives of court clerks, ushers, prosecutors, Defence solicitors, and those appearing before the court as witnesses or defendants.

 

Many firms fear that there will be difficulties in staffing courts at unusual times because of the contracts of employment enjoyed by well-respected, trusted, and time-served employees.

 

In a recent offer of employment we have been pleased to confirm to a new member of staff that their start time can be put back to enable a small child to be delivered to school. These sorts of arrangements that are borne out of practicality and common decency are now likely to result in the onus for covering out of hours courts falling on partners or potentially self-employed contractors.

 

In other firms we have heard that open conflict is breaking out between solicitors who are and who are not able to vary their working days to cover the court pilot.

 

All of these changes stem from nothing more than a desire by the Ministry of Justice to be seen to be keeping the use of their buildings and the systems within them under constant review. Nowhere, outside of the Ministry, has there ever been any pressure from anyone at all for the piloted changes to be introduced.  If the pilot is to come, it may be short-lived and ill-fated.

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