October 2010 articles archive:

'Reasonable force' campaigner

The mother of a man who was accused of murder after stabbing a teenage burglar has travelled to London to campaign for a change to the law.

Mr Roberts was confronted by two teenage burglars when he arrived at his mother's house in Basford for a lunch break in March 2009.

Some of you may remember that charges against Omari Roberts from Nottingham, who was confronted by 17-year-old Tyler Juett during a break-in, were dropped in April 2010.

Omari's mother Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson travelled to London to present the petition in which she is calling for a change in the law.

Omari had picked up a kitchen knife to defend himself and had fatally wounded Juett and injured his 14-year-old accomplice.  The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged Mr Roberts with murder and for offences in respect of the attack on the younger burglar.  These charges were later dropped.

Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson has been reported as stating: "I think that the current legislation expecting occupants to use reasonable force is confusing and it's a very woolly area.

"We should not be using the words 'reasonable force'. It is an unreasonable situation so why are we expected to behave reasonably?

"There needs to be more support for occupants and home-owners and the law should be more weighted on their side."

The arguments surround what amounts to reasonable force in such cases.  The law at present allows the use of reasonable force to defend oneself or another or when defending property or preventing crime.

The question is will the present coalition government take the opportunity to change the law now that they are in power?

Lord Chief Justice Judge

'One punch killers' are to receive longer prison sentences.

The message stating that 'one punch killers' are to receive longer prison sentences, has been given to the court of Appeal. It reflects the concerns of the Attorney General and the public about cases of alcohol related attacks on the streets which resulted in death.  The Lord Chief Justice has issued the guidelines which are intended to cover cases where the attacker is convicted of manslaughter where death occurs, but not murder because of the doubts about the existence of the intention to kill.

Lord Chief Justice Judge has used strong words when referring to the sorts of cases to be covered by the guidelines: "The cases with which we are concerned involved gratuitous, unprovoked violence in the streets of the kind which seriously discourages law-abiding citizens from walking their streets, particularly at night.

"It gives the city and town centres over to the kind of drunken yobbery with which we have become familiar, and a worried perception among decent citizens that it is not safe to walk the streets at night."

The voice of the Judiciary

Few will deny the value of the work conducted by magistrates courts and county courts, but clearly some are under used and may face closure.

Few will deny the value of the work conducted by magistrates courts and county courts, but clearly some are under used and may face closure.

 

The courts have not escaped the attention of the coalition government. It was back in June when Kenneth Clarke the Justice Secretary said that the government would be consulting on the closure of 103 magistrate courts and 54 County Courts in England and Wales.

 

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, through his spokesperson Lord Justice Goldring, has now set out his findings following the consultation on court services. Lord Justice Goldring, as the senior presiding judge for England and Wales, oversees the work of presiding judges in each circuit in England and Wales. Most of you will be familiar with the value of the work carried out by local courts including the magistrate courts. Some 97% of all criminal cases are dealt with by the magistrate courts, however even the courts must play their part in these difficult financial times and the review has identified under used courts.

 

It is thought that the court closures will save the government something in the region of £15 million per year in running costs and a further £22 million in maintenance of the buildings.

 

Some of you will recall that it is the job of the Lord Chief Justice, the country's most senior judge, to act as the judiciaries' chief spokesman and this is an example of one of his duties.

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