The Legal Issues (and Criminal Justice) Discussion Thread

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  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,787
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-64731007

    It's her bed. Let her lie in it. Let her lie in it!

    I have heard that her legal team (if ever there was proof that lawyers are scum...) might apply to the European Court. That will go down about as well as ordering a babysitter, only for Gary Glitter to turn up at your door. Post Brexit Britain really wants to be told by Strasbourg, that we MUST allow a terrorist back into the country.

    The court they are talking about is obviously the European Court of Human Rights, and this has nothing to do with Brexit. It is an institution of the Council of Europe, not of the EU, and the UK has been a member of CoE and a signatory to its Convention on Human Rights for over 70 years. Like 45 other European countries...in fact, all of them except Belarus and Russia.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited February 2023 Posts: 17,948
    j_w_pepper wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-64731007

    It's her bed. Let her lie in it. Let her lie in it!

    I have heard that her legal team (if ever there was proof that lawyers are scum...) might apply to the European Court. That will go down about as well as ordering a babysitter, only for Gary Glitter to turn up at your door. Post Brexit Britain really wants to be told by Strasbourg, that we MUST allow a terrorist back into the country.

    The court they are talking about is obviously the European Court of Human Rights, and this has nothing to do with Brexit. It is an institution of the Council of Europe, not of the EU, and the UK has been a member of CoE and a signatory to its Convention on Human Rights for over 70 years. Like 45 other European countries...in fact, all of them except Belarus and Russia.

    Yes, I remember one of my Constitutional Law lecturers saying that, "You know that if you mix up the European Court of Human Rights with the EU or the ECJ in your essay you will be automatically failed?" It was something they really drummed into us at Law School as it's obviously a common mistake or misconception amongst the general public.

    Although the UK was the first signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and has latterly brought that treaty into domestic UK law by means of the Human Rights Act 1998, the judgments of my the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) aren't actually binding on UK courts or the government. They can only rule that a law or decision is incompatible with European Human rights law but they cannot set that law or decision aside. This means that if they do find that Shamima Begum's human rights were violated by the UK stripping her of her sovereignty there is nothing the court can do to make the UK Government overturn it's decision and allow her back in. So, it would be effectively a judgment against the UK and a censure of the government's decision but would be otherwise unenforceable if the government chose to just ignore it. They've ignored with impunity plenty of adverse judgments from the ECtHR in the past. That's what makes European Human Rights law different from EU law where the doctrine of the direct effect of EU law and the binding nature of ECJ judgments on Member States is long established by case law (over 60 years in fact). In summation, even if she does go to the ECtHR and they rule that the UK is in breach of the Convention it won't change very much at all.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,787
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    It was something they really drummed into us at Law School as it's obviously a common mistake or misconception amongst the general public.
    It doubtless is a common mistake among people who never dealt with those matters and don't read newspapers or whatever those have become, and understandably so.

    But that common mistake is customarily exploited by anti-EU and anti-immigrant forces (not just in Britain) whenever the European Court of Human Rights is passing a decision that doesn't fit into their (racist or at least anti-immigrant) agenda. They'll blame the EU and the ECJ (in Luxemburg, not Strasbourg, by the way) when the court finds that there was a violation of human rights, claiming that "Brussels" is intervening with their judicial process, simply to arouse nationalist sentiment.

    And there is no reason to criticise the party of ANY kind of litigation, nor their lawyers, for using all measures provided by law up to the final instance, and in this case also another route, as it is indeed clear that the ECtHR is not a super-instance for national courts.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,948
    A good new video on diplomatic immunity law:

  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited August 2023 Posts: 17,948
    Baby serial killer Lucy Letby was sentenced to a whole life tariff today, meaning she will never be eligible for parole or released from prison. This is a truly shocking case which opens up a plethora of unanswered questions and the need for reform of the law and of hospital medical management:

  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,787
    I had never heard of the case, so thank you for pointing it out. One wonders what might cause people to act this way. Here in Germany, a "simple" life sentence typically means that the convict may be eligible for parole after fifteen years, while if a "particular severity of guilt" is determined, no one can count on being released before 25 years in the slammer. But generally speaking, German constitutional law says every convict must be able to see a way out at some time and under certain circumstances.

    Lucy Letby's story is a particularly sick one, but still one wonders if a "whole life tariff" protects lives - since she wouldn't be able to repeat her deeds anyway, and I think she must be a rather disturbed person to have committed the murders in the first place. I hope she'll get some psychiatric counseling while in prison and maybe see the light some day...not necessarily outside prison walls, but within her mind.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 23,756
    Regarding Lucy Letby, I have a few questions for those who understand the legal and psychological implications of this sentence much better than I do. Apologies if my line of reasoning comes off as chaotic.
    • When we lock someone up for the rest of their life, we do so because we consider them a menace to society, am I correct? We also (but with lower priority) do so to keep an otherwise restless society, no doubt screaming for blood after such heinous crimes, somewhat satisfied in a cathartic way, am I correct about that (too)?
    • However, we give this woman zero chance to ever get out, ergo she has nothing to look forward to, no prospects whatsoever. I roughly see three scenarios: 1) Prison is hell, and she'll spend her remaining decades suffering and wishing for death; she might even take her own life if given the chance; 2) She repents, finds religion, accepts her guilt, thinks about her sins, and becomes a model prisoner; 3) She hooks up with the wrong people, turns radical, plays an ugly role in prison too, making more victims, directly or indirectly, from behind bars. Am I correct about this (too)?
    The thing is that I am always conflicted in such matters. On the one hand, I want the individual criminal locked up, simply to have a dangerous element removed from the free world. I won't lie, I also want bad people to pay for what they did. On the other hand, the more criminals we put away, the more we "clog up" the penitentiary system, with more displeased inmates as a consequence, more radicalization "inside" as a secondary consequence, and thus, ironically, an even bigger threat to us in the end. By taking away the prospect that the criminal may one day be set free, we leave very little room for said criminal to become a better person and inspire others once she's returned to society. Then again, recidivism scores high among ex-inmates, so...

    I mean, it's this constant back-and-forth in my mind that's preventing me from landing on a definitive stance. Locking people up forever doesn't seem to be the best option, but not locking them up forever doesn't either. Since I'm far from an expert in these matters, I'm hitting a blank wall at some point and can't decide either way. Some inspiration is more than welcome. Hence this post.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,787
    I sort of share your feelings. The main pillars of criminal law over here, as far as I remember from university and the so-called "Referendariat" (when someone who's passed his first law exam has to go through a sort of succession of internships with courts, prosecution, administrations, law offices...and, yes, prosecutors) are "general prevention" (keeping others from doing the same), "special prevention" (keeping the perp from doing it again)...and there is always deterrence of others, or at least atonement. But all of those are dependent on the individual guilt of the defendant. If someone is too stupid or otherwise incapable of realising the illegality (or worse) of his deeds he may not be culpable. And the public will explode if the perp is sent to an insane asylum rather than to a regular prison. But he may not get out of the further as easily as the latter.

    It is all those things that made me refuse my chance of becoming a judge (which is a career public-employee job here, which you can start once you have your law exams) in 1987, in favour of joining a corporate legal department. Because if you become a judge in the German systems, you can expect (and not avoid) being a criminal trial judge, even if you'd rather be a judge for only civil cases...which I find a lot more interesting, and especially more uplifting. I've regretted my decision a several times over the last 30 years, but not because I missed handling criminal cases, and I really did hardly anything in terms of criminal cases since. Fine with me.

    Don't know if this helps you after hitting that blank wall, but it's a try.

  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 23,756
    j_w_pepper wrote: »
    I sort of share your feelings. The main pillars of criminal law over here, as far as I remember from university and the so-called "Referendariat" (when someone who's passed his first law exam has to go through a sort of succession of internships with courts, prosecution, administrations, law offices...and, yes, prosecutors) are "general prevention" (keeping others from doing the same), "special prevention" (keeping the perp from doing it again)...and there is always deterrence of others, or at least atonement. But all of those are dependent on the individual guilt of the defendant. If someone is too stupid or otherwise incapable of realising the illegality (or worse) of his deeds he may not be culpable. And the public will explode if the perp is sent to an insane asylum rather than to a regular prison. But he may not get out of the further as easily as the latter.

    It is all those things that made me refuse my chance of becoming a judge (which is a career public-employee job here, which you can start once you have your law exams) in 1987, in favour of joining a corporate legal department. Because if you become a judge in the German systems, you can expect (and not avoid) being a criminal trial judge, even if you'd rather be a judge for only civil cases...which I find a lot more interesting, and especially more uplifting. I've regretted my decision a several times over the last 30 years, but not because I missed handling criminal cases, and I really did hardly anything in terms of criminal cases since. Fine with me.

    Don't know if this helps you after hitting that blank wall, but it's a try.

    Yes, that helps, @j_w_pepper ! Thank you. Also, a judge? You could have been a judge? That sounds very impressive to me.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,787
    It's not really impressive. As I said, it's basically a public-servant career in Germany. Right after you have passed both of your law exams (and provided they turned out rather good, the government is rather picky about whom they want), you can become a junior judge (typically in a panel together with more experienced judges initially) and then work your way up until you retire. You won't get rich, but have a decent in- and outcome and a considerable pension in the end.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,948
    My thoughts and prayers are with a very just and humane judge, Frank Caprio:

  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited January 16 Posts: 17,948
    The Post Office Scandal - it's been in the news recently in the UK (thanks to ITV's highly successful 2024 dramatisation Mr Bates vs The Post Office). This is one of the biggest mass miscarriages of justice in recent British legal history:

    https://davidallengreen.com/2024/01/how-the-legal-system-made-it-so-easy-for-the-post-office-to-destroy-the-lives-of-the-sub-postmasters-and-sub-postmistresses-and-how-the-legal-system-then-made-it-so-hard-for-them-to-obtain-justice/

    The UK Government's solution is to be an Act of Parliament exonerating all of those caught up in the scandal by quashing their convictions for theft and false accounting etc., thus overruling the courts as they are able to under the parliamentary sovereignty doctrine of the British constitution:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/10/rishi-sunak-announces-plan-to-pass-law-quashing-horizon-post-office-scandal-convictions
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,948
    The UK House of Commons votes in favour of Rishi Sunak's proposed smoking ban for young people born from 1 January 2009:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2024/apr/16/house-of-commons-votes-in-favour-of-smoking-ban-despite-opposition-from-dozens-of-tories
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,787
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    The UK House of Commons votes in favour of Rishi Sunak's proposed smoking ban for young people born from 1 January 2009:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2024/apr/16/house-of-commons-votes-in-favour-of-smoking-ban-despite-opposition-from-dozens-of-tories

    Interesting...especially since this almost coincides with the decision by German parliament to allow recreational use of cannabis products...
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,948
    j_w_pepper wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    The UK House of Commons votes in favour of Rishi Sunak's proposed smoking ban for young people born from 1 January 2009:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2024/apr/16/house-of-commons-votes-in-favour-of-smoking-ban-despite-opposition-from-dozens-of-tories

    Interesting...especially since this almost coincides with the decision by German parliament to allow recreational use of cannabis products...

    That is interesting. I wasn't aware of that. I believe this Bill still has to go through the House of Lords so it could still be amended or blocked in theory.
  • rock223rock223 Isenburg
    edited June 6 Posts: 13
    In the USA, we have significant legal issues surrounding healthcare fraud, which is considered a federal crime. This law firm describes it best, but it can include a variety of activities, such as billing for medically unnecessary services, physician "self-referrals", and prescription drug diversion. These actions not only cost the healthcare system billions of dollars annually but also undermine the trust in healthcare providers and the system as a whole.

    I'm curious if the UK faces similar issues with healthcare fraud.
  • edited June 3 Posts: 14,896
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    The UK House of Commons votes in favour of Rishi Sunak's proposed smoking ban for young people born from 1 January 2009:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2024/apr/16/house-of-commons-votes-in-favour-of-smoking-ban-despite-opposition-from-dozens-of-tories

    I'm skeptical about its effectiveness, as I don't think there's any prohibition that has ever worked. However, on principle and given the problems smoking and nicotine addiction create, I'm all for this law and I hope it works.

    Oh and I know I'm reacting to old news and given that there's no parliament now I understand the law will not pass?
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,787
    rock223 wrote: »
    In the USA, we have significant legal issues surrounding healthcare fraud, which is considered a federal crime.

    I'm curious if the UK faces similar issues with healthcare fraud.

    I'm not from the UK, but from Germany, with a somewhat differently organized but still more or less universal healthcare system. What would you consider healthcare fraud? Pretending that you're sick when you aren't? Or overcharging patients and/or insurance companies as well as claiming costs for treatment that was not administered?
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited June 3 Posts: 17,948
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    The UK House of Commons votes in favour of Rishi Sunak's proposed smoking ban for young people born from 1 January 2009:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2024/apr/16/house-of-commons-votes-in-favour-of-smoking-ban-despite-opposition-from-dozens-of-tories

    I'm skeptical about its effectiveness, as I don't think there's any prohibition that has ever worked. However, on principle and given the problems smoking and nicotine addiction create, I'm all for this law and I hope it works.

    Oh and I know I'm reacting to old news and given that there's no parliament now I understand the law will not pass?

    Yes, it is hard to know how effective it will be as unfortunately older people will always buy tobacco products for younger people or it will move to the black market. I think a smoke free generation is a good idea and one I would endorse but the problem of vaping is still with us.

    You're right in saying that this bill never passed into law. The early July general election meant there was a wash up period of two days to pass any remaining legislation and this was one of the casualties. It's probably better that way as it could've been amended and watered down if they'd tried to rush it through. Whether the next government will run with it is hard to say as it was a Sunak flagship policy. It could very well be dead in the water.
  • Posts: 14,896
    Vaping is a gateway drug, I hope it gets seriously restricted one day.

    The new smoking restrictions is the one policy of Sunak I actually agree with. It might not work but it's worth a try. I hope the next government takes that chance.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,948
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Vaping is a gateway drug, I hope it gets seriously restricted one day.

    The new smoking restrictions is the one policy of Sunak I actually agree with. It might not work but it's worth a try. I hope the next government takes that chance.

    I believe a ban on selling disposable vaping products to underage persons was part of the bill as well. I agree that vaping is a gateway drug into actual smoking or at the very least to an addiction to nicotine. It's ironic too as vaping was meant to be a way to get smokers off cigarettes but it's also hooked a whole new generation on nicotine.
  • Posts: 14,896
    I know of a few people who got off smoking through vaping, but it also created a new generation of nicotine users.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited June 6 Posts: 17,948
    Ludovico wrote: »
    I know of a few people who got off smoking through vaping, but it also created a new generation of nicotine users.

    Yes, it seems to work both ways. There are definitely pros and cons to vapes, like most things in life. Of course it's much better for your health (and your pocket) to never smoke or vape at all.
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