Last year Crown Court Judge Peter Bowers caused outrage by stating that burglary required courage. So, on Friday, when Bowers decided against jailing a sex offender because his crime — committed more than 15 years ago when the defendant was aged 16-18 and suffering from a head injury — represented "water under the bridge", the Mail Online comments section predictably erupted. Here are 14 of the most memorable contributions...
1. Let's ridicule Bowers' appearance!
2. Let's beat him up!
3. Let's hang him!
4. Let's demonstrate a really poor understanding of apostrophe usage!
5. Let's bring the Nazis into this!
6. Let's question the legitimacy of the judicial appointment process!
7. Let's use this as an opportunity to put forward my top judge credentials!
8. Let's turn this into an NHS issue!
9. Let's save money by getting rid of judges!
10. Let's make implausible assumptions about Bowers' mental health and sack him if he fails to disprove them!
11. Let's use this as an opportunity to showcase that "counselling" pun!
12. Let's libel him without even bothering to use Spell Check!
13. Let's commence a mad witch hunt against him!
14. Let's be really, really pessimistic about the future of this country!
And finally — from the same article — a comment not directed at Bowers himself, but which it would be a shame to leave out.
The legal profession is healthily represented in this year's 'Pink List', with three of its members bagging slots in the 101-strong list of influential gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people...
Leading the way at number 30 in the rankings — compiled by The Independent on Sunday — is Lord Justice Etherton. In 2008, Etherton became the first openly gay judge to be sworn in as a Lord Justice of Appeal, and went on to serve for five years in the Court of Appeal. He took up his current role as Chancellor of the High Court in January this year.
Hot on Etherton's heels, at number 32, is Treasury Solicitor's Department chief executive Sir Paul Jenkins. The barrister, who also heads the Government Legal Service (GLS), has spent all his professional life working as a government lawyer and is the most senior openly gay member of the civil service.
The final slot in the list goes to the UK's first openly gay judge, Sir Adrian Fulford, who was out when he was called to the Bar back in 1978. Fulford, who is ranked in 46th place, was appointed as a Court of Appeal judge in May, having previously spent nine years as a judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Although lawyers' presence in the list — which is in its 14th year — is pretty healthy, their number is actually slightly down on recent years. Etherton, Jenkins and Fulford have all featured before, but there was no place this time for media lawyer and blogger David Allen Green or CMS Cameron McKenna partner Daniel Winterfeldt, who appeared, respectively, in 2012 and 2011.
Since enjoying a flurry of publicity after this memorable attempt to arrest a judge (see below) during the Occupy Movement, the freemen-on-the-land movement — which claims that law is applicable only if an individual consents to be governed by it — has been relatively quiet. But a case this week in Kent provided a reminder that the law-deniers haven't gone away...
Having been convicted at a magistrates court in July of failing to give information about the driver of a vehicle caught speeding on camera — an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 — IT worker Timothy Ollerenshaw, 53, decided to appeal his case on the grounds that there is no evidence that the law applies to him.
Ollerenshaw, who is believed to be a freeman, began his appeal this week at Canterbury Crown Court by giving the bench a document which Judge James O'Mahony described as "legal nonsense".
Then, after being challenged about his failure to properly complete a form that he received as the registered keeper of a car caught speeding on camera last year — which required him to give the name of the driver if it wasn't him — Ollerenshaw responded: "I have not seen any evidence which says that the law is applicable to me."
Ollerenshaw had apparently returned forms with comments such as "I have no international contract with you," "I do not recognise you" and "I do not understand your intent" written on the envelopes.
Later, when asked what his defence was, Ollerenshaw replied: "I have no defence. The burden of proof is on the prosecution."
To which the infuriated judge responded that he was "perfectly aware of that," adding: "I rule that the Road Traffic Act is applicable to you, the same as it is to anyone else."
He then upheld the magistrates' prior decision to fine Ollerenshaw £750 and give him six penalty points on his licence, while adding another £450 onto his costs bill, which now stands at over £1,000.
As The Times' Queen’s Counsel cartoon turns 20 — and marks its anniversary with a new book — the barrister-turned-cartoonist behind it, Alex Williams, picks his 16 favourite cartoons from the series exclusively for Legal Cheek.
Tooks barrister Lawrence McNulty has responded to the outgoing Lord Chief Justice's strongly-worded criticism of his handling of a recent terrorism case by suggesting that the Court of Appeal may have got its facts wrong.
Writing yesterday in the comments section of the Legal Cheek story which reported the news, McNulty states that "those who wish to comment on the case should be aware that much of the factual material relied upon by the Court of Appeal and their findings is in dispute".
He adds that the disputed material includes "at least one matter alleged to be said by me in quotation marks, which attracted significant criticism by the Court of Appeal and is repeated [in the Legal Cheek story], which the transcript proves was never said by me at all".
McNulty also takes issue with the fact that the Court of Appeal made adverse findings about him without giving him the opportunity to respond. His full comment is re-produced below...
Yesterday was, of course, the first day of the legal year. As is tradition, the occasion was celebrated with a ceremony at Westminster Abbey. But first the invitees — a collection of top judges, lawyer-politicians and QCs — had to get there...in their full legal garb. Most took cabs...
Hardwicke Building's Brie Stevens-Hoare QC joins her chambers colleague, PJ Kirby QC (pictured above), on the Tube.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Oliver Heald and Attorney General Dominic Grieve made the short journey from the Attorney General's Office to Westminster Abbey on foot.
There, they came across a group of wig-clad men in red skirts.
Inside a huge pagan fire orgy was already underway.
The queue was to shake Chris Grayling's hand, by the way.
The 1 October Westminster Abbey service dates back to the middle ages when judges prayed for guidance at the start of the legal term. There is more information on the judiciary website.
Images by @PJKirby, @AGO_UK and @DomBlakey and SixSigma.
Salford-based barrister Andrew Rosmarine has given a demonstration of how representing yourself in court can prove challenging even for an experienced barrister.
Mr Rosmarine's application for permission to bring judicial review of a decision against him by the Legal Ombudsman (LO) was made particularly memorable by the way he attempted to maintain objectivity by referring to himself in the third person throughout the hearing.
Having initially objected to this approach, the judge in the case, Mr Justice King, eventually relented.
Accordingly, after this unfortunate incident with Mr Rosemarine's homemade bundle and a glass of water...
...a rather bizarre submission ensued, featuring passages such as this one:
The full transcript is here, courtesy of CrimeLine.
A Crown Court judge sent a criminal to the cells for nearly three hours because the fleece and tracksuit bottoms combo he was wearing made him look "slovenly".
Sitting at Hull Crown Court last week, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told defendant Alan Green — who was facing a GBH charge — that his attire was "unacceptable", subsequently adding: "I am sure his hours in the cells have done him no harm whatsoever."
After Green’s solicitor-advocate, Paul Norton, relayed his client's regret about his appearance, the judge went on to state: "On occasion, it is necessary to remind defendants this is a Crown Court, not a marketplace or a football match. People need to show respect and one of the ways that can be done is by turning up reasonably smartly dressed."
Since the Hull Daily Mail broke the story yesterday, there have been suggestions that Judge Richardson's actions may constitute "unlawful imprisonment".
Meanwhile, a debate has developed about whether Green would have been afforded more robust representation if he had been represented by a barrister rather than a solicitor-advocate.
A senior Mexican judge is facing possible impeachment after he attacked fellow judges during a televised hearing last week. A video of the incident has since appeared on YouTube...
Morelos state appeals court head Miguel Angel Falcon took the extraordinary decision to resort to violence after being angered by comments made by one of his fellow judges, who apparently had called him "stupid".
The clip above shows Falcon rising from his chair, pushing one judge out of his way and then punching another, before being pulled off him by other colleagues.
Falcon has since apologised, telling Diario de Morales: "I feel sadness, shame and regret. And well, I want to offer a very heartfelt apology to society and the media."
The court's chief justice, Justice Nadia Lara Chavez, said: "We are very ashamed that such a thing could happen in a high appeals court. There are some people who just do not have the tolerance to accept certain comments."
Meanwhile, a lawyer who witnessed the attack called for Falcon to resign.
"This man's lack of discipline and capriciousness disrupted a serious session of the judiciary of the state of Morelos," said Miguel Angel Rosete. "He became a caveman judge and based on the principles of dignity and ethics, he should resign from his post."