Courtroom Antics

rynner2

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Amusing piece about super-injunctions:

Even judges can't outlaw our love of a good scandal
The increasing number of celebrities using the law to conceal their peccadilloes might be fighting a losing battle, says William Langley.
By William Langley 9:00PM BST 23 Apr 2011

A few years ago, it was possible to argue that scandal was dead. Many feared it would be sorely missed, but confronted by the gormlessness of modern celebrity, it wasn't hard to see where things had gone wrong. Occasionally, there would be a faint flicker of revival, in the shape of a Tiger Woods or an Angus Deayton, but the fashionable view remained that the public was no longer bothered by the misbehaviour of the famous. Not only that, but the chattering classes held this to be a thoroughly good thing. It meant that we had grown up as a society, shaken off our narrow-mindedness and prurience, and were now at ease with the irresistibility of Lord Prescott to the hired help.

It has taken the bizarre nannying of the High Court in London to rocket scandal back to its pre-crash levels. All over the country, millions are merrily engaged in unearthing the identities of "a famous footballer", "a world-renowned actor", and "entertainment industry figure", and figuring out which of them did what to whom. No sooner has one name been cracked – a process that usually takes little more than a few well-aimed clicks on the internet – than another comes hurtling down the super-injunction speedway, and the rest of the world becomes ever more convinced that we're nuts.

Or, at least, seriously confused. The confusion is presented in high-minded terms, as one between the right to privacy and the right to free expression. But that's a red herring. What the British are really confused about is whether they are interested in famous people's private lives or not. When asked directly, the public says it isn't, but – to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies – "It would, wouldn't it?"

The celebrities, therefore, aren't taking any chances. Since 2008, more than 30 mostly wealthy, well-known and male applicants have been granted injunctions of varying degrees of deadliness in order to stop newspapers publishing things about themselves that they want to keep secret. It isn't hard to understand their concerns. Even a footballer is entitled to possess, albeit beneath a bonce of silo-busting thickness, a small cell-cluster of moral indignation that glows hot to such headlines as: "Soccer Rat Cheats on Wife".

The problem is that going to the law offers no real protection. Often, it only succeeds in making things worse. John Terry, the Chelsea FC captain, won an early super-injunction that not only prevented newspapers from reporting allegations that he had cheated on his wife with a former team-mate's girlfriend, but banned them from reporting the injunction's existence.

By the time the gagging order was lifted – following a successful counter-argument that Terry was using it to protect his lucrative sponsorship deals rather than his privacy – almost everyone who cared about such matters already knew his identity.

It isn't just sexual profligacy that will land you in trouble. Take the case of Sir Fred Goodwin, the over-promoted Scottish accountant, who – following the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland under his stewardship – was widely accused of being "the world's worst banker". Smarting from such media attacks, Sir Fred obtained a super-injunction, to conceal certain information that remains mysterious, which forbade even the description of him as "a banker". The order, however, became public knowledge when John Hemming, the Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley, used parliamentary privilege to refer to it in the House of Commons, thus ensuring that an even heavier dump of public ordure landed on Sir Fred's head.

No one doubts that the judges who issue these injunctions do so only after careful consideration of the facts, and in the belief that the orders are justified. The problem isn't so much the High Court's grasp of the law, as its understanding of how gossip works and why, in an admittedly lurid and insidious way, it does us all plenty of good.

In issuing an order last week on behalf of the married "entertainment industry figure", Mr Justice Ward declared that permitting publication of the story of his affair with a colleague "would not enhance the social, economic or political life of the country".

This is the kind of thing judges feel obliged to say when ruling on matters of public interest, and while obvious on one level, it completely misses the point. No one pretends that celebrity kiss-and-tells will fix the deficit or heal the fissures within the Coalition. Yet the taste for gossip and scandal runs deep in British life, and there is plenty to suggest that it helps give us a cleaner country and higher standards than a lot of other places. These days, we are all urged to look up to France, where, supposedly, a nation of sophisticates shrugs off the peccadilloes of public figures and – just in case – a privacy law prevents anyone knowing about them. The problem is that the French law, introduced in the 1970s as a well-meaning attempt to protect individuals from intrusion, has long since been hijacked by the Establishment and its allies as a means of concealment. In Britain, exposure has worked well, both as a deterrent and as a reliable source of mass entertainment – which, however guiltily enjoyed, has been generally accepted as an occupational hazard of celebrity.

The famous names now seeking shelter from the courts appear to be banking, as much as anything, on the belief that our appetite for this kind of thing is exhausted, and that, as the bien pensants tell us, scandal is dead. It could be a false hope. Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, is soon to report on the effectiveness of the super-injunctions, with much of the nation's press in uproar, and the Prime Minister expressing doubts about the courts making laws that Parliament wouldn't necessarily endorse.

The late Elizabeth Taylor remarked that it is in the depths of scandal that you find out who your true friends are. It would be sad if, in modern Britain, they turned out to be sitting in the High Court.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebri ... andal.html
 

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Judge ditches 'nobbled jury' and delivers her own verdict
By Ryan Kisiel
Last updated at 9:53 AM on 15th July 2011

A judge made legal history yesterday by returning her own verdict on four benefit cheats by finding them guilty of a complex housing fraud after dismissing the jury.
The trial of the family who had built up a property empire worth £1.5million through false benefit claims was halted in March after the jury had retired to consider a verdict.
Claims were made of an illegal approach to jurors and, fearing they had been 'nobbled', the judge, Miss Recorder Caroline English, ruled that she could deliver the verdicts rather than ordering an expensive and lengthy retrial.
It is the first criminal trial to be held in England and Wales in which a judge has dismissed a jury to determine a verdict.

Appeals by defence lawyers against the decision failed and yesterday Miss English returned her verdicts at Wood Green Crown Court in North London.

Riccardo Guthrie, 33, his sisters Bianca, 37, and Cosima, 25, and accomplice Courtney Campbell, 48, jointly swindled taxpayers out of more than £110,000 to fund a property portfolio of three houses and two flats across North London.
Riccardo was jailed for three years, Bianca for two years, Cosima for 18 months.
Campbell received a 12 month suspended sentence and 160 hours of unpaid community work.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1SADdxFPT
 

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Wojciech Jasinski: CPS explains bones trial collapse
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-he ... r-14345479

Fr Wojciech Jasinski said he moved Witold's bones to be with his mother's

Related Stories

* Priest's bones move case dropped

A case against a priest accused of moving a corpse was dropped because "it could not be proved the bones were human".

Father Wojciech Jasinski, of the Marian Fathers, had been accused of illegally moving the bones of a 14-year-old Polish boy in Herefordshire.

The case was reported by a member of Witold Orlowski's extended family.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said after legal arguments it could be not proved the bones were human.

On Thursday, the trial against him came to a halt when a judge at Worcester Crown Court decided there was insufficient evidence for a jury to convict the priest.

He had been charged with illegally removing a corpse from a grave.
'Mother's wishes'

West Mercia Police said they had been contacted on 11 February 2010 by a member of Witold's family.

His remains had been buried at the former St Raphael's Convent in Bullingham, Herefordshire, where his mother had worked after World War II.

She later moved away to Henley-on-Thames and, after she died, Fr Jasinski said he had moved Witold's remains to be with her, as she would have wished.

"The main reason I decided to make the removal was to fulfil the wishes of the mother, to make her happy," he said.

A police spokesman said that after investigating the case they had passed on the evidence to the CPS.
Catholic hero

Peter Tooke, senior district crown prosecutor for West Midlands CPS, said the service had been satisfied there was enough evidence to prosecute for an offence of removing a corpse from a grave.

"The court heard legal arguments in a defence application to dismiss the case and the prosecution's reply, during which the description of the remains was referred to.

"Having heard these arguments, the court dismissed the prosecution case on the basis that we could not prove that the remains were human."

Witold became a hero among members of his faith after he and his mother escaped from Poland during World War II and travelled to Mexico.

While there, Witold encountered a sick priest, Jozef Jarzebowski.

Witold prayed to God to take his life rather than that of the priest. He died and Fr Jarzebowski lived, eventually moving to Herefordshire.
 

rynner2

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Hilton sued over 46p newspaper charge
A man in California is suing the Hilton hotel group after it charged him 75 cents (46p) for a newspaper that was left outside his room door.
By Jon Swaine, New York
11:08PM BST 01 Aug 2011

Rodney Harmon "did not request a newspaper and assumed it had been placed there by staff" at the Hilton Garden Inn at Sonoma County Airport, according to a lawsuit filed last week.

Mr Harmon, 55, of Sacramento, has filed a class-action lawsuit for at least $5 million against the company, on behalf of all guests who may also have unwittingly paid for a newspaper they did not want.
He alleges that as part of a "scheme" to trick customers into paying for a copy of USA Today.

"The newspaper charge is inconspicuously placed in the paper sleeve in which the guest's room card is placed upon check-in," his lawsuit claims.
Worse still, it is "written in extremely small font which is difficult to notice or read", Mr Harmon claims, and "the word 'newspaper' does not appear anywhere" on his hotel invoice.

Mr Harmon said that "he did not read or otherwise make use of the newspaper", and believed the same was true of millions of other Hilton guests.
Such "offensive waste of precious resources and energy" undermines government policy "to avoid unnecessary waste and accumulation of garbage, to conserve energy sources and to protect the environment from unnecessary and unreasonable impact," he said.

"The alleged consumer injury is substantial, causing millions of guests at defendant's hotels to unwittingly part with money for a newspaper they did not request and reasonably believed was provided to them without charge," according to his lawsuit.
Hilton declined to comment on an ongoing legal matter.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... harge.html
 

rynner2

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Couple sued by neighbour for £20,000 over 'minor accident' outside house
A hard-up couple from Prestwich, Manchester, are being forced to sell their home after a neighbour hired no-win, no-fee lawyers to win £20,000 in damages from them over a ''minor'' accident outside their former council house.
8:58AM BST 21 Aug 2011

Victim care worker Foroozan Panahandeh, 45, claimed she was floored by a two foot length of plastic guttering which fell three feet onto her as she put out her bins.

She then took out a negligence claim against next door neighbours Brendan Hodgkiss and his partner Cynthia Parker, both 52, who had bought their local authority property in Prestwich, Manchester under the right to buy scheme - four months after the incident.

In a misspelt letter to Mr Hodgkiss, solicitors for Essex-based Holmes and Hills said: ''It is alleged that the accident was caused my (sic) the negligence of yourself, your servants or agents. My client suffered an injury to her neck, left shoulder and knee.''

In a series of medical reports Mrs Panahandeh, an Iranian married mother of two who arrived in the UK in 1992 to complete a chemistry Masters degree then told how she suffered ''moderate to severe'' pain over three years after the incident.
She said the injury meant she had problems working on a computer, was unable to go jogging or play volleyball again and had even been forced to abandon her weekly hobby of knitting.
She said she was unable to apply makeup or wash her hair a week after the accident and claimed she found it ''too much trouble'' washing in the shower.

Mrs Panahandeh initially sued Mr Hodgkiss, Mrs Parker and also Salford City Council which owned the property at the time of the incident claiming negligence and ''breach of statutory duty.
The civil action was discontinued against the local authority for undisclosed reasons in May 2010 at Salford County Court but a judge later ordered the couple to pay damages and costs totalling £20,254.81 plus interest.

It is believed Mrs Panahandeh's share of the legal payout will be no more than £3,000 under the terms of claim form submitted earlier to the court. The lawyers are thought to have pocketed up to £13,000 and the rest has gone in court costs.


Earlier this month Mrs Parker, a care worker and Mr Hodgkiss a roofer, who offered to pay the money at £50 a month got a warning letter from Jason Brady principal partner and head of the personal injury team at Holmes and Hills saying the matter would be referred to their civil litigation department unless the legal bill is paid.

A breakdown of the lawyer's bill shows the firm which charged £220 an hour spent over 11 hours writing 112 letters and made 49 phone calls over a five hour period and reveals details of another 21 hours he spent on issues ''other than correspondence.''

The letter said: ''You have recently repeated an offer to discharge the Judgement and Orders for Costs at the rate of £50 per month although of course this would take some 34 years for the entire sum to be discharged.
''Clearly this arrangement is unacceptable and is not agreed by the Claimant. If further action is necessitated our client will look to you for the additional costs of taking such action.''

Mrs Parker said: "I just cannot believe that a two foot piece of plastic hitting this woman from just three feet above has cost so much money and leaves us on the verge of having to sell our house.

etc...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... house.html

"I fought the law and the law[yers] won" :evil:
 

escargot

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Didn't they have home insurance? Mine covers me against such claims. That's why I have it. Common sense.
 

rynner2

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escargot1 said:
Didn't they have home insurance? Mine covers me against such claims. That's why I have it. Common sense.
One of the mysteries of this case is that, at the time of the accident, the house was owned by the council, who should have been held responsible, but the "civil action was discontinued against the local authority for undisclosed reasons in May 2010".

(And the list of disablities suffered by the claimant seems 'over-egged' to me.)
 

Quake42

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One of the mysteries of this case is that, at the time of the accident, the house was owned by the council, who should have been held responsible
Not necessarily, it may depend on whether the couple had done something which caused the guttering to fall.

I do believe that a system which allows lawyers to take three quarters of the stettlement is clearly broken...
 

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I hate hearing stuff like this.
 

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The $50,000 tantrum: Brother and sister SUE their mother after she bought the 'wrong' birthday card and refused them toys By Mark Duell
Last updated at 10:54 PM on 28th August 2011

Some children kick up a big tantrum when they’re refused toys or receive the wrong type of birthday card - but it doesn’t usually end up like this.
Kimberly Garrity, who raised Steven II, now 23, and Kathryn, now 20, in a $1.5million home in Illinois, was sued by her own children.
But the siblings, represented by three lawyers including their father, Steven A. Miner, have failed in their $50,000 lawsuit for ‘bad mothering’.

They alleged Garrity failed to take Kathryn to a car show and threatened Steven II with phoning police if he did not buckle his seatbelt.
The children claim she ‘haggled’ over dress prices and called at midnight to tell Kathryn to come home from a party, reported the Chicago Tribune.
But after two years of battle an appeals court has dismissed the ‘emotional distress’ case, ruling Garrity's conduct was not ‘extreme or outrageous’.
A positive ruling ‘could potentially open the floodgates to subject family childrearing (to) excessive judicial scrutiny and interference,’ it said.

Mr Miner and Garrity were married for around ten years before she filed for divorce 16 years ago, reported the Chicago Tribune.
The birthday card in question was labelled ‘inappropriate’ by Steven II as it allegedly failed to include any money.
It had a picture of indistinguishable tomatoes on a table, apart from one in the centre with googly eyes attached.
The card said: ‘Son I got you this Birthday card because it’s just like you ... different from all the rest!’

Garrity’s attorney Shelley Smith complained of her ex-husband trying to seek ‘ultimate revenge’ of her children, accusing her of ‘being an inadequate mother’.
‘It would be laughable that these children of privilege would sue their mother for emotional distress, if the consequences were not so deadly serious,’ she wrote in court papers.
Ms Smith wrote Garrity does still love her children but they wanted ‘the benefits afforded by a family relationship, but none of the restraints’.

‘(The children) do not view their (lawsuit) as an attack on mothering, but rather on accountability,’ the children’s father Mr Miner wrote.
‘Everyone makes mistakes, but... there must be accountability for actions. Parenting is no different,’ he added, reported the Chicago Tribune

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1WPcxr27x

Some people need to get a life, methinks.
 

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'A monumental waste of money': Judge's verdict on council who took firm to court for giving away CARDBOARD BOX (and it cost taxpayer £15k)
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:13 AM on 22nd September 2011

When company boss Linda Bracey gave away spare cardboard boxes to a passer-by, it didn’t seem like a situation to warrant the attentions of a court.
But her local council took a different view, prosecuting her in a case branded by a judge as a ‘monumental waste of public time and money’.

The authority ran up legal bills of £15,000 after accusing Mrs Bracey of ‘illegally disposing of business waste’ when she handed over the boxes following a request from a member of the public.
It brought the action after one of the boxes, bearing the company’s name, was found among other rubbish on a fly-tipping site.

Mrs Bracey, 54, said that if successful, the prosecution would have seen supermarkets and other businesses effectively banned from giving away spare boxes to customers who might want to carry their shopping or use them for packing when moving house.

But, following a trial during which Judge Alex Milne QC called for an outbreak of ‘common sense’, a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court acquitted her company, Electro Signs, in Walthamstow, East London, of breaching environmental protection laws.
Giving directions to the jury, Judge Milne said: ‘Were the cardboard boxes in question waste?
‘Packaging such as boxes received by a company like Electro Signs is not waste when it is delivered to the company. Nor do boxes become waste as soon as the contents are removed.
‘If a company chooses to keep and re-use boxes, they remain the property of the company and an asset. If the company keeps boxes for its own use but then chooses to give or sell boxes to another party that is not discarding them.’

Following the hearing Mrs Bracey, a mother of three, labelled as ‘mad’ Waltham Forest Council’s decision to spend £15,000 on a court case over a cardboard box.
‘It is a ridiculous situation, because not only are the council, as the judge said, wasting taxpayers’ money, but also preventing the re-using of a cardboard box, since the company that gives a person a box could be facing prosecution. The world’s gone mad.
‘The ironic thing is that the council brought the action against us under the Environmental Protection Act.
‘The council had ample opportunity over many, many court hearings to stop this. It didn’t have to go this far.’

Faisal Saifee, Mrs Bracey’s barrister, added that the prosecution did not allege the fly-tipping, in October last year, was carried out by the company, which makes neon signs, or any of its employees.

Waltham Forest councillor Clyde Loakes described the outcome of the case as ‘incredibly disappointing’.
Mr Loakes added: ‘Our residents are fed up with people treating our streets as a rubbish dump, which is why this council has carried out a well-publicised drive to wipe out environmental crime.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1Yfxa6P24
 

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I made sex tape to improve my performance, man tells girlfriend
A management consultant who secretly filmed himself having sex with his girlfriend told a court he was only trying to improve his performance.
10:04AM GMT 10 Nov 2011

Graham Gibbons, 42, who specialises in "time and motion engineering", set up his mobile telephone beside the bed to film himself making love to his then partner. He then downloaded the recording to his laptop and gave his professional judgment on his bedroom skill.
However, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, called the police after discovering the film and Mr Gibbons was arrested for voyeurism.

He told officers: "After studying the tape I gave her 20 minutes of sexual satisfaction, five minutes of intercourse and another nine minutes of sexual satisfaction." 8)

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Mr Gibbons specialises in the science of making businesses more efficient by studying people at work.
Mr Gibbons claims he was using his expertise to "evaluate his performance" with his sexual partner.

However, she told police officers that she was unaware he was filming them having sex at his home in Pontypool, south Wales, and was "outraged" when she found out. She then ended their relationship.

Hywel Hughes, prosecuting, told the court: "The filming was to determine who was spending the most time doing what and an analysis of a time and motion study.
"He was able to give police officers an accurate breakdown of time spent on different activities – giving them timings.
"In time and motion studies in employment people would be aware of what you were doing. But this was totally covert and she did not know what was going on."

The court heard that the woman made a copy of the recording and handed it over to police officers before making a complaint about his behaviour.
Mr Hughes said: "She asked Mr Gibbons why he did it without her permission and he told her: 'I'm a pervert, I get off on it.'"

The 35-minute video was shown to the jury, although Judge Nicholas Cooke asked members of the public to leave the court.
He said: "It is my wish to clear the court but I cannot force anyone to leave – this is an unusual case."


Mr Gibbons denies voyeurism, claiming he filmed his bedroom prowess as an "academic research" project. He also denied making the tape for sexual gratification or filming the sex scene to show to anyone else.
The trial continues.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... riend.html
 

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Man films dancing stepmother in Truro Crown Court

A man who posted video on the internet of his stepmother dancing on seats in the lobby of a court in Cornwall has apologised to a judge.
Shane Curnow, 24, from Stithians, faced contempt of court proceedings after taking the footage in Truro Crown Court and posting it on Facebook.

Mr Curnow's lawyer told a judge that his client believed filming bans only applied to courtrooms, not buildings.
Mr Curnow said he was very sorry. The judge accepted his apology.

Mr Curnow filmed his stepmother on his mobile phone while he was supporting her and his father when they were making a court appearance.
After recording the footage in September, he posted it on Facebook, calling it "Bored at court".
The use of cameras in court buildings is currently banned by the 1925 Criminal Justice Act.

Staff were made aware of the footage in October, and Judge Barry Cotter QC ordered Mr Curnow to face contempt of court proceedings.
Joss Ticehurst, representing Mr Curnow, of Collins Park, Stithians, said his client filmed his stepmother because "he felt that she looked ridiculous" and he had uploaded it on to the internet "as a means of showing her how stupid she looked".
He said: "It was a foolish act by a thoughtless young man. He regrets his actions."

Mr Ticehurst added that having the fear of possible contempt proceedings hanging over him had been a heavy enough punishment and that Mr Curnow had also written a letter to apologise.
The footage was also removed from his Facebook page.

Accepting the apology, Recorder Richard Stead said: "He has shown considerable disrespect for the court by doing what he did and by posting it on Facebook.
"I am pleased to have received his apology, he has been very sensible to put pen to paper."

Mr Curnow's father and stepmother were not identified in court and their reason for being there originally was not said.

In September, the government said it was considering whether to allow some sentencing in English and Welsh courts to be televised.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-15875204
 

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http://news.yahoo.com/man-sues-former-hostages-says-broke-promise-190902970.html

Man sues former hostages, says they broke promise
APAP – 17 hrs ago

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Can there be no trust between a kidnapper and his hostages?

A man who held a Kansas couple hostage in their home while fleeing from authorities is suing them, claiming they broke an oral contract made when he promised them money in exchange for hiding him from police. The couple has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Jesse Dimmick of suburban Denver is serving an 11-year sentence after bursting into Jared and Lindsay Rowley's Topeka-area home in September 2009. He was wanted for questioning in the beating death of a Colorado man and a chase had begun in in Geary County.


The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/skb0Rl ) reported that Dimmick filed a breach of contract suit in Shawnee County District Court, in response to a suit the Rowleys filed in September seeking $75,000 from him for intruding in their home and causing emotional stress.

Dimmick contends he told the couple he was being chased by someone, most likely the police, who wanted to kill him.

"I, the defendant, asked the Rowleys to hide me because I feared for my life. I offered the Rowleys an unspecified amount of money which they agreed upon, therefore forging a legally binding oral contract," Dimmick said in his hand-written court documents. He wants $235,000, in part to pay for the hospital bills that resulted from him being shot by police when they arrested him.

Neighbors have said the couple fed Dimmick snacks and watched movies with him until he fell asleep and they were able to escape their home unharmed.

Dimmick was convicted in May 2010 of four felonies, including two counts of kidnapping. He was sentenced to 10 years and 11 months on those charges. He was later sent to a jail in Brighton, Colo., where he is being held on eight charges, including murder, in connection of with the killing of Michael Curtis in September 2009. A preliminary hearing originally scheduled for Dec. 6 has been rescheduled for April 12. No plea has been entered in the case.

Robert E. Keeshan, an attorney for the Rowleys, filed a motion denying there was a contract, but said if there was it would not have been binding anyway.

"In order for parties to form a binding contract, there must be a meeting of the minds on all essential terms, including and most specifically, an agreement on the price," he wrote.

Keeshan said the contract also would have been invalid because the couple agreed to let Dimmick in the home only because they knew he had a knife and suspected he might have a gun.
 

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Curse of the Qianlong vase: The £500,000 antique which sparked a family feud and bitter court battle - and left the seller facing financial ruin
Q: What could possibly go wrong when your bric-a-brac pot goes under the hammer for an eye-watering sum?
A: Your former mother-in-law decides it's hers ...
By Polly Dunbar
Last updated at 11:26 PM on 3rd December 2011

At just 5in tall, the gilt-copper Chinese vase is one of the less imposing exhibits at the New York gallery. With its brightly coloured enamelling and exotic design featuring a bear with a bird of prey perching on its head, it is certainly eye-catching. But its price-tag of £500,000 might seem somewhat steep to those lacking in-depth knowledge of Chinese objets d’art.
For the experts, though, the little ornament’s fascinating history makes it worth every penny of its asking price. Commissioned by the Chinese Qianlong Emperor, who ruled from 1735 to 1796, it was later looted from the Summer Palace in Beijing during the Second Opium War in 1860.

All that makes it of great interest to collectors keen to capitalise on the current boom in Chinese antiques. Yet there is one extraordinary period of the vase’s past in Britain that is nowhere to be found in its description in the gallery’s catalogue.
For the past two years, it has been at the centre of a family rift so acrimonious it resulted in a lengthy and bitter court battle over its ownership, which was finally decided last month.

The case first made headlines when Andrea Calland, a mother of three from Ruthin, North Wales, sold the ornament at an auction in Chester in 2009. To her surprise, it was bought for £228,000 by a leading Oriental art dealer, who whisked it off to be displayed in New York.

But what happened next should serve as a warning to anyone wondering if there could be gold among the rubbish in the attic – be absolutely sure of its provenance.
After reading about the sale on the front page of her local newspaper, Andrea’s former mother-in-law, Evelyn Galloway, launched a legal bid for the money, claiming it was a family heirloom that had never been Andrea’s to sell.
A fortnight ago, a court ruled Mrs Galloway, 74, was entitled to the cash, which has been held at three separate firms of solicitors.

According to Judge Seys Llewellyn QC, Andrea had not been dishonest when she sold the vase – but she had failed to take ‘reasonable steps’ to establish who owned it. Mrs Galloway declared herself ‘relieved’ that the saga was finished.

For Andrea, a 44-year-old freelance science tutor, the case may be at an end, but its devastating impact on her life is far from over. Although she acted in innocence, she finds herself facing financial ruin.
The case cost her £25,000 in legal fees and now she must raise a further £25,000 to cover part of Mrs Galloway’s expenses. She may also be required to pay her damages.

Her only asset is her beloved home, a pink stone cottage in Ruthin, a picturesque market town, and she fears she will have to sell up.
Speaking publicly for the first time, Andrea says: ‘I wish I’d never laid eyes on that vase. It’s caused such unbelievable pain, not just for me but also my girls, Sophie and Phoebe, who have been caught in the middle of a horrible situation.

‘The court case was one of the worst experiences of my life. It was so hurtful to be attacked by people I used to love. At one point, I was sobbing so much I had to get up and leave the court.
‘Now I’m terrified. I’ve been told to increase the mortgage on the house to raise the funds but I don’t think I can because I’m self-employed. My house isn’t just my home, it’s the girls’ home, too.
‘Who would have thought that a person could lose their home as a result of selling a bit of bric-a-brac they’ve had lying around for years?’

The origins of this sorry saga can be traced back years before Andrea’s decision to sell the vase – to the unhappy ending of her relationship with Mrs Galloway’s son, Steven.
Andrea was 23 when the pair met in 1990 and a single mother to a son, Oliver, by her childhood sweetheart Rick, with whom she has remained close friends. Steven, six years older and working for his father’s insurance brokerage, seemed to offer the stability she craved.

As their relationship progressed, Andrea became pregnant with their first child, Sophie, and moved into Steven’s apartment with Oliver. It was during this period that Mrs Galloway claims she lent her son the vase, which she says she regarded as a family heirloom. Andrea says she has no recollection of it ever being there.

She first remembers seeing it when the family moved to a spacious farmhouse, rented from a local couple. ‘I know the vase was in that house because I remember it being on a shelf by a door, where the kids could have knocked it over at any time,’ she says.
‘In court, Steven said it was explained to me from the beginning that it was only on loan from his mother and that it was valuable.
‘But I used to burn incense in it and nobody ever asked me to treat it in any special way. When we moved again, to another farmhouse, it was in the children’s playroom. I didn’t even think about where it came from because I’d accumulated so much since I left home at 16.
'Look at my house – I’m a clutterbug and I couldn’t tell you where half these things have come from.’

Indeed, the walls of Andrea’s cottage are covered in shelves groaning under the weight of matching cup and saucer sets, little coloured glasses, lamps and, yes, vases. It is not hard to imagine how she could have assumed the Chinese vase was just another trinket she had picked up.

In 1997, she and Steven had another daughter, Phoebe, but their relationship was starting to deteriorate. Gradually, Andrea claims, she noticed that bills were not always being paid on time. In 2001, Steven admitted the brokerage was in trouble.
‘I’d encouraged all my friends and family to use the brokerage and I had no idea it was in so much debt,’ Andrea says. ‘The company was officially declared bankrupt in 2002 and it was an horrendous time.

‘We moved into my cottage, which I’d owned since before we met and previously rented out, and I was working around the clock in four jobs, trying to make ends meet. I wanted us to work through the problems as a family but I didn’t feel he was trying. It was clear the relationship was over.’

Steven moved in with his parents, Evelyn and Jack, while Andrea tried to rebuild her life with her children in the cottage, where the Chinese vase lay forgotten in a box under the stairs. For the next few years, Steven and the Galloways maintained contact with Sophie and Phoebe but Andrea’s own relationship with the family was strained.

In 2008, Andrea decided to sell some of her old junk. ‘I had been through a difficult time and I decided to redecorate and declutter to make a fresh start,’ she says. ‘Phoebe’s birthday was approaching and I wanted to buy her a laptop to help her with her work.
‘I grabbed a few bits and pieces from under the stairs, including the vase and some old coins I’d had since my childhood, and took them to an antique shop to get them valued.
‘The owner told me he’d give me £375 for the vase but he wanted me to leave the coins overnight to be valued, which I didn’t want to do.

‘In the end, I decided to take them to an auction house, Byrne’s in Chester. They told me they would put a reserve of £80 on the vase, but when I told them about the antique dealer’s offer, they upped it to £500. I thought, “Wow, hopefully I’ll have enough for Phoebe’s laptop.” Now I wish to God I’d sold it to the antique dealer.’
A couple of days later, Byrne’s called Andrea to inform her that the vase had fetched almost £230,000.

Then she received a call from the police. Having seen the story, Mrs Galloway had not only informed Byrne’s that the vase was hers, she had also reported it to the police as a theft.
‘I didn’t even have a chance to think about the money,’ says Andrea. ‘The next thing I knew, I was defending myself to the police, who didn’t take any further action.
‘When I heard what Evelyn was saying – that I knew full well the vase was a loan and that she’d tried to get it back on numerous occasions – I felt very sad. I couldn’t believe it.’

On the advice of the auction house, Andrea found a solicitor. From the outset, she and her lawyer attempted to settle the matter without going to court. ‘I wanted all the money to be put into trust for the girls, or for us to split it 50/50, but we couldn’t reach an agreement,’ she says.

While Andrea had to pay her own legal costs, pensioner Evelyn received legal aid, which Andrea feels is unfair. In court, Mrs Galloway was able to produce the original catalogue from when her father bought the vase at a sale in Birkenhead, Merseyside, in 1956. In her witness statement, she described Andrea as being emotionally unstable and highly obstructive about the vase.
The law states that if six years pass without an attempt to reclaim an item from somebody, that item becomes theirs. Mrs Galloway said she had repeatedly asked for the vase to be returned since Andrea’s split with her son, but that Andrea had responded by hanging up the phone or slamming the door in her face.

‘I felt utterly betrayed,’ says Andrea. ‘I used to get on well with Evelyn. In fact, I loved her, and hearing her mud-slinging was devastating. If she’d had her way, I would be in prison now – the mother of her grandchildren.
'There was no written proof that she had tried to reclaim the vase. She had never written to me or got a solicitor involved. She hadn’t even insured it.’

Judge Llewellyn ruled that the vase had not been abandoned by Mrs Galloway and that she still retained ownership. He stated that while it had been at Andrea’s home for almost two decades, she had not given enough thought to its origins.
He added that he appreciated the ruling was a ‘disaster’ for Andrea, ‘who thought that the sun had shined on her life for once’.

Following the ruling, Mrs Galloway said: ‘The whole thing has been appalling. It has taken us two years to get to this stage. We could not stand by and let Andrea walk away with all that money. It is an awful lot and we had no idea the vase was worth that amount.’

Meanwhile, Andrea is trying to focus on minimising the impact on Sophie, now 19, and Phoebe, 14. Oliver, 25, is now a doctor. ‘They’ve been trying to stay out of it but obviously that’s been very difficult,’ she says.
‘I just feel so sad for them. It doesn’t seem right that while their grandmother has all this money, their mother is facing ruin. All selling that vase did was make their lives harder – that’s what I regret.’

Last night, Steven Galloway told The Mail on Sunday: ‘My primary concern is for preserving the dignity of my two children as much as possible, so all I will say is that my mother and I are relieved the case is over, but we take no pleasure in any of this.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1fYyJ0Nyi

(We've had a couple of other stories about Qianlong vases, but not this one.)
 

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Judge at war with village for 'blocking' footpath next to his £1m mansion
By Andrew Levy
Last updated at 3:21 AM on 5th December 2011

After decades handling civil cases as a district judge, David Joslin should know all about the pitfalls of obstructing public rights of way.
Yet he is facing an expensive court appearance after he was accused of building a wall across a footpath running alongside his million-pound home.

People living in the picturesque village of Nazeing, Essex, were outraged when the wall went up attached to an 8ft-high electric gate.
They say it blocks a route which has existed for generations – and are backed by Essex County Council, which has served a legal notice requiring it to be reopened.

But Mr Joslin, 72 – who retired as a judge earlier this year but still works as a lawyer – disputes the route of the path, which he claims was overgrown and had not been used for the 35 years he has lived at his detached Edwardian house.
He is now facing a £100,000 bill if he loses when the case is heard at a county court early next year.

The situation is even more of an embarrassment for Mr Joslin because he failed to apply for planning permission when the wall was built, despite being a member and former chairman of Nazeing Parish Council, whose members submit opinions on building applications. :oops:

Retired property developer David Coster, 69, who is leading the campaign to have the path reopened, said: ‘I have no axe to grind – all I want is to be able to take my two grandchildren where I took their mother when she was their age.
‘People have used the footpath for generations.’

The footpath begins beside the gate and runs alongside the driveway for 150 yards before passing within 20ft of Mr Joslin’s land. After another 200 yards, it veers away. The wall went up in 2006 and has divided the community ever since.
Last year, parish councillor Gloria Skipper said Mr Joslin threatened to set his dogs on her after a heated meeting about the footpath.
He denied the threat but did admit to being aggressive.

Last week, a dozen residents walked out of a parish council meeting when members voted not to pay £40 a year to join the Open Spaces Society. The oldest national conservation body, it has branded the wall an ‘illegal obstruction’. Some villagers suspect the parish blocked the motion to ‘protect their own’.
Mr Coster added: ‘The society could cause problems for them further down the line with re-opening footpaths in the village.’

Essex County Council, responsible for the county’s footpaths, has served Mr Joslin with a notice requiring ‘the removal of the offending gates and other structures’.
The retired judge responded by applying for a Certificate of Lawful Development, similar to retrospective planning permission.
He commenced proceedings in Central London County Court – seen by some as a delaying tactic – and the case has now been moved to Chelmsford County Court.

Mr Joslin said: ‘Myself and the council are using the same map, yet coming to different conclusions as to where the footpath should be.
‘These cases spiral out of control – I have seen it as a judge – but we have no option but to defend it.’
Mr Joslin said he does not want the route reinstated as ‘it makes our home susceptible to burglars’.
‘No one will use it other than villains and vagabonds,’ he added. :roll:

A county council spokesman said it would ‘defend its position’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1ferpyxFm
 

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O'Gara rails against Athlone court
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 82798.html
Wed, Dec 07, 2011

THE CONTROVERSIAL owner of Dartmouth Square in Dublin, Noel O’Gara (66), had a five-year driving ban upheld in the Circuit Court in Athlone yesterday after he declared it had “no jurisdiction” and was “run by gangsters”.

O’Gara, of Ballinahown Court, Ballinahown, Athlone, was appealing the ban and a €1,500 fine handed down in the District Court in June after he was convicted of careless driving.

His initial four-year ban had been extended by an extra year after he told the judge on that date he was “making a big mistake” if he thought he would put him off the road for four years.

In court yesterday, O’Gara was accompanied by UK anti-establishment activist Patrick Cullinane.

Together they tried to get Judge Anthony Hunt to accept a self-penned, 30-page manifesto invoking God, the EU and the Magna Carta as grounds for a trial by jury.

After his attempt to make a speech earlier in the day had been quickly stopped by the judge, Mr Cullinane was told to hand in the document “in the normal way, like a solicitor”, but again he attempted to read from it instead.

Judge Hunt asked Mr Cullinane whether he was a solicitor, and when he discovered he was not, told him: “If you’re not a lawyer, I’ve no interest in you.”

“You have no jurisdiction to hear this case,” said Mr Cullinane.

“I have every right,” said the judge, before asking O’Gara to represent himself.

However, O’Gara protested at what he alleged was the cursory attention Judge Hunt gave his defence document. “You’ve just quickly looked at that document before putting it away,” said O’Gara.

“Proceed with your appeal or I’ll affirm the District Court Order,” said the judge.

“You have no jurisdiction over this, and I’ll take it to a higher court,” said O’Gara.“You haven’t even read it. What kind of judge are you? This isn’t a court of law, it’s run by gangsters,” said O’Gara as he was escorted from the court. The judge affirmed the driving ban of the District Court and rejected the appeal.
 

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Tweets cause US death row conviction to be overturned

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16108000

Erickson Dimas-Martinez was convicted in 2010 of killing a 17-year-old

Related Stories

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A juror's tweets have caused the murder conviction of a death row inmate to be overturned by a court in the US.

Arkansas Supreme Court judges said it was inappropriate for a juror to have posted his musings online.

They have asked a panel to consider whether jurors' access to mobile phones should be limited during trials.

The review coincides with a warning from England and Wales's Lord Chief Justice that the internet threatens the integrity of trials.

Bad coffee

Erickson Dimas-Martinez was convicted of murder in 2010 for shooting and robbing a teenager, Derrick Jefferson, after a party in Arkansas four years earlier.

He had been due to be put to death by lethal injection.

Mr Dimas-Martinez's lawyers appealed against the conviction after Randy Franco tweeted his thoughts despite the judge's instructions that jurors must not post comments on the internet or discuss the case on their mobiles.

Mr Franco tweeted: "Choices to be made. Hearts to be broken... We each define the great line."

Mr Franco later clarified that "define the great line" was a reference to an album by an American Christian metalcore band called Underoath.

Other tweets sent included: "The coffee here sucks" and "Court. Day 5. here we go again".

Not appropriate

The judge at the original circuit court trial picked up Mr Franco on his actions shortly after one of the tweets was sent.

At the time Mr Franco argued that he had not given any specifics about the case and said the tweets did not suggest he had decided his verdict before hearing all the evidence.


Judges in the US and UK are worried about jurors using social media to communicate with others "I'm waiting for the other 11 to [jurors] to help me come to a conclusion... I have not seen death in my life, like, firsthand. So the talk of death is a little uncomfortable just because it's an unknown - it's an unknown area for me," Mr Franco told the judge.

The circuit court judge denied a motion for a new trial on the basis that Mr Franco "never tweeted specifics about the case".

However the state Supreme Court has reversed that decision.

"Because of the very nature of Twitter as an... online social media site, Juror 2's tweets about the trial were very much public discussions," wrote Associate Justice Donald Corbin.

"Even if such discussions were one-sided, it is in no way appropriate for a juror to state musings, thoughts or other information about a case in such a public fashion."

One of Mr Dimas-Martinez's lawyers said the case was likely to bring in new rules.

"It's not about your right to tweet or be on Facebook," Janice Vaughn said.

"It's about protecting the right of the person who may end up behind bars or end up losing a significant amount of money in a civil case."

Mr Dimas-Martinez's lawyers had also complained that another juror had fallen asleep while the prosecutor had been presenting the evidence.

The Supreme Court has recommended a retrial. A spokesman for the attorney general said the state had not decided its next step.

Facebook failure

The news follows a warning from the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales that technology was making it easy for jurors to communicate with others.

"We must be astute to preserve the integrity of jury trial and the jury system," said Lord Judge.

Earlier this year, a Manchester woman became the first juror to be jailed for contacting a defendant via Facebook.

Because other defendants were still on trial, the judge decided to discharge the jury, and the case collapsed.

Joanne Fraill was sentenced to eight months in jail for contempt of court
 

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Girls’ secret father wins right to be on birth certificates
A father of twin girls must be identified on their birth certificates even though his children do not know he is their father, judges have ruled.
11:00PM GMT 16 Dec 2011

The man, who cannot be identified, has been fighting a long-running battle to see his 12-year-old daughters since DNA results established that he is their father.
As part of ongoing legal proceedings, a family judge ruled earlier this year that the girls’ birth certificates – which name another man as their father – must be altered.

But the judge said this could be delayed until after the children are told the truth about their paternity by their mother – giving their 16th birthdays as a deadline for this to happen.

But that ruling has been overturned by Appeal Court judges – who ordered that the certificates cannot stay in their current form and must be amended immediately.

Lord Justice Thorpe, sitting with Lady Justice Hallett and Lady Justice Black, said that changing the birth certificates was a “completely separate question” to the girls being told about their father.

The court heard their mother denied having sexual intercourse with the biological father and registered a different man as their father on their birth certificates.
However, DNA tests revealed the true identity of their father five years ago, and he has been involved in court action since in an attempt to establish the truth and to win the right to see his children.

A county court judge ordered last year that the birth certificates must be changed and that the mother should tell the children – giving her four months to break the news.
But, at a later hearing, the judge changed his mind and extended the deadline – saying the children must learn the truth by their 16th birthdays.

At London’s Appeal Court yesterday, the father’s lawyers argued that this decision was “plainly wrong”, saying that the certificates are official documents and the inaccurate information in them should be changed
without delay.

Allowing the appeal, Lord Justice Thorpe said there was a “clear distinction” between changing an official document – which is a matter of public record – and the “difficult judgment” of what to tell the children and when.

Agreeing with him, Lady Justice Black added: “This was a very difficult case and one has great sympathy with the judge and the serious dilemmas that faced him.
“But I have no doubt that the judge was not entitled to exercise his discretion so as to defer the declaration for the very long period he did.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... cates.html
 

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Judge angered after billionaire prince fails to attend hearing over 'secret wife’
A judge was left “frustrated” yesterday after a billionaire Arab prince failed to attend a court hearing concerning an alleged secret marriage, leaving his lawyer to offer the excuse that he had been ordered to a meeting with the ruler of Dubai.
By Richard Alleyne
7:00AM GMT 20 Dec 2011

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the head of Emirates Airlines and a member of Dubai’s ruling family, is accused of undergoing an unofficial marriage to the mother of his illegitimate child. He failed to attend a hearing at the High Court in London intended to clarify his relationship with the former model.

Sheikh Ahmed was due to give evidence in the case in which his former mistress, Nivin El-Gamal, is claiming £1million a year maintenance for the break up of their “secret marriage”.
The Middle Eastern prince, who claims Miss El-Gamal was just an “irregular” sexual partner, failed to appear in court at the last second. He claimed that Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum ordered him to a political meeting in Riyadh instead. Sheikh Mohammed is the prime minister and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, and absolute monarch of Dubai.

The court had expected Sheikh Ahmed to enter the witness box after a 10-minute break in proceedings only to be told he was not even in England. The change of plan left the court “dumbfounded” and angered the judge who complained that alternative arrangements could have been made. Mr Justice Bodey said he had a “gripe” about not being told earlier and told the court that he was “frustrated”.
“Why is it suddenly sprung on the court on Monday morning seconds before he comes into the witness box?” he said.
“Provision could have been made for a video link.”

Richard Todd QC, for Miss El-Gamal, said: “It is a very dramatic development indeed. We are frankly dumbfounded at this dramatic turn of events.”

Sheikh Ahmed, 53, is alleged to have married Nivin El-Gamal, 35, an interior designer and model, in a Knightsbridge flat in London in January 2007.
Miss El-Gamal wants the judge to rule that the marriage took place, declare it null and void and therefore put her in a position to claim maintenance.

The court heard that sheikhs make strategic marriages with other Gulf royal families but still practise polygamy, enabling the sort of “private marriage” Miss El-Gamal says she willingly underwent.

But Martin Pointer QC, for the sheikh, denies any ceremony took place and that Miss El-Gamal, although the mother of his three-year-old son, only met Sheikh Ahmed for sex “after which he gave you sums of money”. Mr Pointer claimed there was “no evidence” that the “marriage” ever took place, apart from the “self-serving evidence” from Miss El-Gamal.

He told her that she “had a fantasy that he would marry you”. There was no independent record and no evidence from the imam who was said to have conducted the service or from the witnesses who were said to be there, he added.
Last week Miss El-Gamal was branded a liar who invented the “marriage” to get £1million a year maintenance from him.

When Sheikh Ahmed’s absence was noted yesterday, Mr Pointer told the judge he had to attend a meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) in Riyadh.
“He is unable to attend to give evidence,” said Mr Pointer. “He has been recalled by the ruler of Dubai to attend the GCC meeting in Riyadh. My client intends no disrespect at all to your lordship by not being here.”

The hearing continues.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... -wife.html
 

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Juror, 19, jailed for halting trial to visit theatre
Matthew Banks given two-week sentence for pretending to be ill so he could see Chicago musical in the West End
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 December 2011 21.20 GMT

A teenage juror, who interrupted a trial when he pretended to be ill so that he could go and see a London stage show, has been detained for 14 days, the Judicial Communications Office said on Thursday.
Matthew Banks, 19, could now spend Christmas in a young offenders institution after he told officials at Manchester crown court he was too poorly to turn up at the trial he had been attending.

The court proceedings were then halted for a day and the remainder of the jury was sent home. But Banks went to see the show Chicago in the West End.
The university student was found out and brought before the judge Martin Rudland, who labelled him "frivolous" and ordered that he serve two weeks in a young offenders institution.
The week-long trial later continued in the absence of Banks, with the remaining 11 jurors reaching a verdict, officials said.

Rudland said he was locking up Banks "with a heavy heart" but added that lying to court officials for such a frivolous reason was a serious offence.

The teenager's mother, Debbie Ennis, 49, from Staffordshire, described the sentence as "ludicrous", and vowed to appeal and get her son home for Christmas. "He's a naïve 19-year-old and when he told me what happened, we told him to hold his hands up and apologise, because we trusted the British justice system. He wanted a career in the government but he's got a criminal record now. We thought he'd get a slap on the wrists."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/dec/2 ... it-theatre

"He wanted a career in the government": he should have had more respect, then, for the laws that are passed by government.
 

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Farmer fined for motoring offences while rounding ducks
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-i ... t-16576861

A farmer has been fined at Londonderry Magistrates Court for motoring offences he committed while trying to round up ducks.

Raymond Kennedy, 22, from Creggmount in Claudy pleaded guilty to taking his father's van without permission, driving without insurance, driving unaccompanied when an 'L' driver and driving without 'L' plates.

Kennedy was fined £300 after the incident which happened on 21 December.

He said it happened when he was trying to round up ducks which had strayed from his father's farm.

His defence solicitor said Kennedy had two girls in the van when he was stopped by police.

District Judge Mr McElholm said he did not know if Kennedy had poultry problems or chick problems.
 

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When it comes to sentencing, a computer might make a fairer judge than a judge
If judges only looked at the statistics on reoffending, their sentences might be more just.
By Alasdair Palmer
7:00PM GMT 21 Jan 2012

Many people were disgusted by the pictures of Daniel Chrapkowski and Thomas Lane celebrating after Judge Martin Steiger decided not to send them to prison. Their offence had been to kick Joseph O’Reilly unconscious, break his jaw and leave him bleeding in the street after he had politely asked them to stop throwing litter.

What did the judge think he was doing? The recidivism rate for young men who are convicted of violent crimes is very high. Oliver O’Neill, the third member of the three-man group convicted of attacking Mr O’Reilly, had been granted bail three days before the incident, after fracturing a man’s eye socket in an attack outside a shop. The judge gave him two years in prison after he admitted three offences of “grievous bodily harm” in addition to kicking Mr O’Reilly.

The judge must be aware of the statistics which show it is quite likely that the two young men he spared prison will beat up someone else. In ignoring those statistics, his behaviour conforms to a common error: concentrating on unreliable and misleading information relating to the individual case, while ignoring probabilities.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman has analysed our propensity to make this mistake. He has just published Thinking Fast and Slow, a wonderful book summarising his work. In a famous experiment, he gave people two pieces of information. One was a statistic: there are 70 engineers and 30 lawyers in a group of 100 individuals. The second was a description of one randomly chosen man from that group: Dick was said to be married with no children, to be of high ability and motivation, and well liked by his colleagues. Kahneman then asked his subjects to assign a probability to Dick’s being a lawyer. A huge majority thought that there was at least a 50 per cent chance that he was a lawyer. This is clearly an invalid inference when you have been told that the individual comes from a group of 70 engineers and 30 lawyers. But people ignored the statistic and concentrated on the information about Dick – even though there was nothing in it to indicate he was a lawyer.

Judges and parole boards exhibit exactly that form of irrationality: they concentrate on what they hear from the defendant, his demeanour in court, his pleas of mitigation, and pass sentence based on that. They ignore the statistics. But their sentencing practice would be much improved if they ignored their views about the defendant and concentrated on the statistics about the likelihood of reoffending for those of his age and history.

Simple rules based on statistics have been shown to be far better than “expert judgments” at predicting matters as diverse as longevity in cancer patients, the chances of success of new businesses, and how long a marriage will last. (The rule for marriages is simple: subtract the number of arguments a couple have from the number of times they make love. If the resulting number is negative, the marriage probably won’t last much longer.)

Judges and members of parole boards are reluctant to set aside their “expert judgment” in favour of statistical rules. They insist that if they did not concentrate on the specifics of the case, that would mean denying the defendant justice. But the specific information that judges use has been shown to be an abysmal predictor of future behaviour. Justice is not served by letting people out to commit further crimes, which is what happens when the statistics on reoffending are ignored in favour of the judge’s view that a defendant’s circumstances make him an exception.

Would it serve justice to have sentences determined, not by a judge, but by a computer crunching the reoffending statistics? Kahneman’s research implies that it would. Judicial discretion is viewed as essential to justice, but it makes sentencing capricious and endangers the public. Naturally, we won’t replace judges with machines – but we would getter fairer sentences, on average, if we did.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... judge.html
 

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Accused in brothel case 'had two marriage offers'
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 82349.html
ANN HEALY in Galway

Tue, Feb 28, 2012

A 34-YEAR-OLD Romanian woman charged with operating a brothel in Galway city has had two marriage proposals since arriving in this country last October, a judge was told yesterday.

Monica Ciuciu (34), with a rental address at Mary Street, Galway, appeared in custody before Galway District Court yesterday.

She is charged with acting or assisting in the management of a brothel at that address on February 12th contrary to section 11 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993.

Objecting to bail, Garda John Maloney said the woman had travelled to Ireland last October using a Romanian national identity card, which was in order, but she did not have an address in this country.

Garda Maloney said he spoke to the owner of the apartment at Mary Street and he confirmed the accused was never a tenant there and that the person who had leased the apartment was nowhere to be found. Defence solicitor Ronan Murphy said his client had given gardaí an ESB bill with an address at Cois Clair, Claregalway, where she claimed she had been living with a Robert Adams.

Garda Maloney confirmed Mr Adams had arrived at Galway Garda station following Ms Ciuciu’s arrest on February 12th and had confirmed he was due to marry the woman.

The garda said a Romanian man who had been arrested at the same time as Ms Ciuciu in the apartment in Galway had told him he was due to marry her, too.

Hearing that the woman was the subject of two marriage proposals, Judge Mary Fahy wondered if there was any question of human trafficking in the case.

Garda Maloney said he had so far uncovered no element of trafficking.

He said he believed the ESB bill given as proof of Ms Ciuciu’s address was not authentic.

The solicitor said he had been unable to contact Mr Adams since last week and could not confirm the issue over the ESB bill.

He indicated his client would be entering a plea of not guilty.

Judge Fahy refused bail and remanded Ms Ciuciu in continuing custody to appear before the court again on March 12th.

The judge said the accused could go to the High Court for bail if she wished, and granted her free legal aid.

Co-accused Ioan Bizau (28) is in custody charged with assisting in the operation of a brothel.

He is also charged with having cocaine at the time of his arrest.
 

ramonmercado

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Hes taken leaf of his senses.

Bolivia coca judge defends divination technique
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17393139

Coca leaf is at heart of indigenous Andean culture

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A Bolivian judge has rejected calls to resign after he admitted "reading" coca leaves to help him make decisions.

Judge Gualberto Cusi - who is from the indigenous Aymara community - said he used the traditional divination technique to help guide his judgement.

But he said he did not let it dictate sentencing.

Coca leaf is a vital element of indigenous culture in Bolivia, and is frequently defended by President Evo Morales.

It has been used in the Andes for thousands of years as a mild stimulant and herbal medicine, as well as a sacrament in religious and shamanic rituals.

It is also the raw material for illegal cocaine.

Gualberto Cusi become a member of Bolivia's Constitutional Tribunal last year when judges were controversially elected by public vote for the first time.

In an interview on Bolivian television, he admitted "consulting" coca leaves when faced with difficult judicial decisions.


President Morales is an outspoken advocate of coca
'Shameful'
The remarks were criticised by government and opposition politicians.

"I think justice has hit rock-bottom, it is shameful and he should quit," opposition congressman Roy Moroni told El Deber newspaper.

"We can't put our trust in people who determine the liberty of individuals by reading coca," he added.

Judge Cusi later sought to clarify his comments, indicating that he relied on coca for spiritual guidance but did not let it determine the outcome of cases.

"In moments when decisions must be taken, we turn to coca to guide us and show us the way," he explained.

He added that coca helped him communicate with "plants, animals, mountains and rivers".

President Evo Morales - who is a former coca grower of indigenous descent - is an outspoken defender of traditional coca use.

Earlier this week he went to Vienna to urge the UN to lift its ban on chewing coca leaf.

Thousands of Bolivians joined a national day of coca-chewing in support of his campaign.

Mr Morales says he is strongly opposed to cocaine production, though the US says Bolivia has not lived up to its responsibilities in the fight against the drug.
 

ramonmercado

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a Pi in the sky case.

US judge rules that you can't copyright pi
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2 ... ht-pi.html
18:15 16 March 2012 by Stephen Ornes

Video: What pi sounds like

The mathematical constant pi continues to infinity, but an extraordinary lawsuit that centred on this most beloved string of digits has come to an end. Appropriately, the decision was made on Pi Day.

On 14 March, which commemorates the constant that begins 3.14, US district court judge Michael H. Simon dismissed a claim of copyright infringement brought by one mathematical musician against another, who had also created music based on the digits of pi.

"Pi is a non-copyrightable fact, and the transcription of pi to music is a non-copyrightable idea," Simon wrote in his legal opinion dismissing the case. "The resulting pattern of notes is an expression that merges with the non-copyrightable idea of putting pi to music."

The bizarre tale began about a year ago, when Michael Blake of Portland, Oregon, released a song and YouTube video featuring an original musical composition, "What pi sounds like", translating the constant's first few dozen digits into musical notes. On Pi Day 2011, the number of page views skyrocketed as the video went viral, New Scientist was among those who covered his creation. Blake found himself a nerd celebrity, fielding emails and phone calls from multiple media outlets.

Pi symphony

"It was a great morning," Blake recalls. "It was the first time where something I'd done creatively received attention like that."

The celebratory ride quickly derailed, though. That afternoon, jazz musician Lars Erickson from Omaha, Nebraska, cried foul. Erickson thought Blake's work sounded suspiciously similar to his own 1992 piece "Pi Symphony," also based on the digits of pi, which is registered with the US copyright office. He contacted YouTube, and Blake's video vanished.

"It was like being stabbed," says Blake. "This great thing I'd created, and then watched explode, was gone. I felt robbed."

Erickson and Blake, who have never met nor even talked on the phone, had both assigned each of the digits 0 to 9 to a musical note and then treated the digits of pi as a musical score. Erickson, who calls the two melodies "identical", filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement.

Judge Simon, however, disagreed. According to his ruling, the two pieces differed enough in areas like tempo, musical phrasing, and harmonies to be considered distinct. Plus, US law doesn't protect every aspect of the piece, like underlying facts and ideas.

Copyrighted digits?

What's more, Simon, who intentionally released his decision on Pi Day, noted that Erickson's copyright registration only protects musical flourishes – and his are markedly different from Blake's.

Erickson isn't happy though. "If people look at my explanation of the Pi Symphony video and then look at Mr Blake's video, they can draw their own conclusions," Erickson says. "I'm not sure that the judge got it right."

Blake says he wasn't surprised by the ruling, but he still felt relief. For the last year, he's been consulting multiple lawyers – working pro bono – in an effort to defend himself. "It was great news to get on Pi Day," he says.

Stephen Joncus from the law firm of Klarquist Sparkman, LLP, also based in Portland, Oregon, doesn't think there are any broader implications of the case in terms of copyright. "I think it's pretty standard for cases like this to be dismissed," he says. "You can't get a copyright for an idea, and the idea here was making music based on the sequences of digits in the number pi."

Golden music

Both musicians continue to create mathematics-inspired musical pieces. Erickson's latest creation explores powers of two, while Blake penned a piece last year that turns the digits of tau – a constant that at twice pi (6.28318) could replace pi – into music. He released that video on tau day, 28 June.

Blake plans to release his latest composition, a melodious phi (0.618...) or golden ratio, so-called because architects and artists find these proportions pleasing, on, you've guessed it, 18 June.
 

rynner2

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Holidaying juror jailed after court official noticed she was phoning in sick from foreign number
By Jaya Narain
PUBLISHED: 18:18, 5 April 2012 | UPDATED: 09:38, 6 April 2012

A woman juror who abandoned a four-week robbery trial to jet off on holiday to Malta was jailed last night for 56 days for contempt of court.

Janet Chapman, 51, said she thought it would fine to travel abroad for a week because her doctor had signed her off work due to a bad back.
The next day she phoned the court and left a telephone message saying: ‘Hello, this is Janet Chapman.... I won’t be attending court for a period of up to two weeks.
'I have got to return to the doctor’s next Tuesday. I have got sciatica. Thankyou. Bye.’

She then flew off to enjoy some winter sun on a £669 week-long holiday in Malta with her long-time partner Raymond Pritchard.
But she had a nasty surprise when she touched down at Liverpool Airport as a welcoming party of police officers was waiting to arrest her. :shock:

Judge Anthony Russell QC said: ‘It is clear you deliberately deceived the court for your own ends and pleasure.
‘Your assertion that you were unaware that you could not go away on holiday whilst absent from jury duty due to what you maintain was illness is ludicrous.
‘I am satisfied that if you really suffered back pain of such severity that that you could not continue your jury service you would not have been able to endure the travel to Malta.
‘I am driven to the conclusion that you pretended to your doctor that you had a back problem in order that you could take a holiday in Malta.’

Preston Crown Court heard potential jurors were told to indicate if they had a holiday or hospital admission which would leave them unable to sit on a serious robbery trial.
Chapman indicated there was no reason why she should not be able to be part of the jury and the trial of robbery suspect Raymond Mallen began.

etc...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1rFiyoEg8
 

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Australian wins compensation for work trip sex injury
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17766379

The court ruled the woman should be compensated for the facial injuries she suffered

An Australian public servant who was injured while having sex on a work trip has won compensation in court, local media report.

The woman was hit by a glass light fitting above her bed while having sex at a motel in New South Wales in 2007.

Her workers' compensation claims for facial and psychological injuries were initially rejected.

But the judge ruled she had suffered the injuries during the course of her employment.

"If the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room she would have been entitled to compensation, even though it could not be said that her employer induced or encouraged her to engage in such an activity," Justice John Nicholas said.

"In the absence of any misconduct or an intentionally self-inflicted injury, the fact that the applicant was engaged in sexual activity rather than some other lawful recreational activity does not lead to any different result," he added.

The federal government employee, who is in her late 30s, said she suffered injuries to her nose, mouth and a tooth as a result of the glass light fitting hitting her face.

She reportedly also suffered from depression and anxiety.

Her employer had booked her stay at the motel before a work meeting the next day.

She sued Australia's federal government workplace safety body, ComCare, after it rejected her compensation claim. The rejection was also upheld by an appeals tribunal.

But Justice Nicholas said the appeals tribunal was wrong in saying that the woman had to prove her injury had been caused by an activity that had been "implied" or "encouraged" by her employer.
 

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That's an interesting precedent. The coverage for workers' compensation in the Public Service was restricted severely during the previous government's tenure - we were no longer covered for travel to and from work or for incidents on your lunch break. We were also encouraged to travel for work purposes on our own time.

While some of this is slowly being won back, it's good to know that we can expect to be covered for incidents while on official travel, regardless of what we're doing. She wouldn't have been in the place she was if not for work, and would have thus avoided injury. Who she was shagging is largely irrelevant. It might have been her partner (who travelled with her, presumably at their own expense), or it could be somebody she picked up in a bar, the fact is if work hadn't sent her there, she wouldn't have been injured.
 

ramonmercado

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Its good that on the job now has a legal definition.
 
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