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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

SHOCKING LEGAL OUTRAGES Woman threatened by judge has convictions quashed + BAN FOR SOLICITOR WHO COVERED UP HIS CRIMES

A woman deprived of a fair hearing through the conduct of a trial judge has had her convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal.
The court ruled that His Honour Judge Stephen John had unfairly made comments during the woman’s trial which indicated his belief in her guilt.
He had urged her counsel to give ‘robust advice’ about her plea and withdrew the woman’s bail and remanded her in custody the night before she was due to give evidence. He also threatened her 14-year-old daughter with custody if the teenager made any facial response to the testimony that was being given. This meant the woman doubted the fairness of the process and was thereby ‘handicapped’ in giving her evidence.
The woman was convicted at Kingston Crown Court in April of bringing cannabis, two mobile phones, two charging cables and a SIM card on a visit to her partner in prison. The handover had allegedly happened while she visited the prisoner with her teenage daughter. A search of the prisoner later revealed he had stashed these items on his person. 
The woman, who was jailed for 18 months, admitted smuggling in the SIM card but denied being responsible for the other items. In the appeal, her lawyers argued the judge’s decision to hold her on remand overnight demonstrated a ‘hostile attitude’ and affected the quality of her evidence. 
They submitted that when the woman gave evidence, the judge posed questions more akin to comment or cross-examination than attempts at clarification. 
HHJ John had already directed that the woman’s teenage daughter sit at the back of the courtroom and not approach the dock. He warned the 14-year-old that if she responded in any way during the evidence, he would ‘have the officer arrest you and take you downstairs. And I don’t care if you’re 14; you’ll go into a cell same as anybody else.’ 
When defence barrister Michael Haggar sought to intervene, the judge replied: ‘Don’t lecture me Mr Hadder [sic], I’m speaking to her.’ 
The Court of Appeal said it was not appropriate for the judge to threaten the girl with custody at all - let alone for a facial reaction to the evidence. If he wanted to restrict her input, he could simply have not allowed her in the courtoom. 
Appeal judges found substance in four grounds of complaint, which taken together led the woman to think he had taken an adverse view of her case and that she would not get a fair trial.  This may well have handicapped her in giving evidence and resulted in her not receiving a fair trial. The conviction was set aside and the prosecution opted not to seek a retrial. 
  • Clearly a judge who had lost sight of what his job was about.

  • Jo Public here. Is this guy still a judge? If so, why your indignation at public suspicion of judges? Why couldn't you all refuse to appear before him? What penalty could you suffer, especially if it was a joint decision, as in "its-breaking-my-heart-barristers-say-resumption-of-action-almost-inevitable"?

  • Don't lecture me, Mr Hadder. The Court of Appeal wouldn't appreciate you usurping their role.'

Ban for solicitor who covered up his mistakes [crimes, you mean...ed.]

A solicitor who forged documents and misled public authorities to hide his mistakes has been struck off the roll. 
Martin Edward Burnett, a solicitor for 15 years, was found to have been dishonest in his handling of probate and conveyancing matters that he had failed to deal with properly. 
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard Burnett created and presented a false grant of probate to a building society; deliberately altered the transaction date on a TR2 property registration form; and forged the signature of a client on another form. 
He also forged the signatures of lenders on a DS1 property form.
In the probate matter, Burnett admitted to a director of his firm that he forged the document to allow a transaction to proceed ‘when he had slept on his oars and not acted quickly enough’. His misconduct came to the attention of the Solicitors Regulation Authority following a review and subsequent report from his firm, named in the tribunal judgment as BPK Limited. 
The SRA said Burnett had been motivated to act as he did to avoid SDLT penalty charges, avoid requisitions from the Land Registry, and avoid or minimise further questions from his lender client. These were not isolated acts, the regulator argued, but amounted to a course of conduct over three years – none of which he reported. 
The tribunal concluded that Burnett, who is 49 this year, wanted to avoid difficult conversations with clients and his firm, covering up mistakes made in the course of his practice: ‘He had produced forms, created letters and carried on the deception through correspondence. He had breached trust as an executor of a will, [and] breached the trust placed in him by clients, as well as by his employers.’ 
Burnett, who was unrepresented at the tribunal and not present, offered no mitigation, and none was found by the tribunal. He was ordered to pay £10,557 in costs.
  • I do think we need to hammer home again and again to students and new solicitors how these things must never happen. My solicitor children know I would rather they lost their jobs than acceded to a demand by someone to certify something they cannot certify. A lot of the public do not have an understanding of these things. I had to tell mys on's friend I could not certify her passport but only her driving licence as she did not have the passport with her. i think they all thought I was incredibly mean but I had to explain I was not going to lie and I was not going to put my career at risk. This happens day in day out.

    I don't see why this man if he was a bit behind with work could not have paid for a courier from his own funds to take the document to the client and get them to sign it the same day - that is not slower than him singing it fraudulently the same day himself.
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  • On a practical level one's own conscience is the only limit to such actions, which is why conduct such as this deserves the ultimate professional sanction. It is important for all right-thinking professional people to know that such deeds do not go unpunished.
    I feel most sorry for his family. That his children (if he has any) should have to know that their father so dishonestly shamed his profession will be very hard for them to take.
    Fortunately it appears unlikely that clients will suffer. It will, however, be hugely expensive for the firm involved. 

  • As of 2017 there were about 140,000 practising solicitors and in 1980 there were less than 40,000, so you would expect to see a lot more SDT reports today. I think there has been a change though in the type of miscreant that is now being struck off. Historically there was a lot of 'borrowing' from client account. These days client money is much better protected probably in part because firms have grown in size, but there does appear to have been a big increase in the type of dishonesty revealed in Mr Burnett's case perhaps because in the age of electronic communication it has become much easier to prove documents have been created after the event.
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  • How popular was this website, then?

  • @15:14: probably sheer numbers. How many were on the Roll in 1970? How many today?

  • Week after week there are so many individuals and firms the subject of this column but I cannot recollect it being quite so bad in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s or am I wrong? What has changed to cause so many indidiviuals or firms to falter?

  • There is no good reason for the Tribunal's attempt to (semi)anonymise the firm. Its name is in the public domain, as is its connection with Mr Burnett.

    Calling the firm "BPK Ltd" is especially inappropriate, because there is a company of that name (10523082) which has nothing whatever to do with the firm or Mr Burnett.

  • You could be excused for thinking that £10,557 should be able to fund a pretty thorough hunt for mitigation.