The Ferris Conspiracy Forum
Sign up  |   |   |  Calendar
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment   Page 1 of 6      1   2   3   4   Next   »
Councillor

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 197
Reply with quote  #1 
A couple of us went to court today to support a young friend who was arrested on a minor charge on Saturday and 'lay in' for the weekend before appearing in court today. Unfortunately he was one of the last to appear and we had to sit through the fog of misery that hung in the air as families shuffled on chairs awaiting their loved ones being brought up. At first I just glanced around, feeling a bit embarrassed as details of the accused's lives were aired with a bored and sarcastic emphasis on their domestic situations, dependencies, reasons for non payment of fines etc. The reasons being thrown without an expression of emotion and certainly with no effort to defend or refute any accusations towards a sheriff who looked like he would rather be prying one of his eyes out with a fork, were massive problems in the lives of the people standing in the dock and their families gathered to hear their fate. A domestic row that had ended in violence, with a young male accused of assaulting his partner, was in their eyes at least, the traumatic culmination of several months of unemployment, difficulties in establishing an income from the benefits system - and the stress of accrued rent arrears because the benefits took so long to sort out. The guy snapped when his partner told him there was no food in the house to feed their three children and he slapped his wife when she asked him to borrow money from family members. He should never have done that - that is not up for debate. Two generations ago, he would most probably have been given a 'start' in the same shipyard as his father and his income, whilst not excessive, would have afforded them a decent enough living. Food/sustenance is one of the higher priorities in Mazlow's Hierarchy of needs - we die without it. The shame felt by a parent when he or she cannot provide this most basic need is enormous. The fear of social workers prying into their threadbare lives produces unimaginable horrors and creates tension in an already difficult environment. Why then, is it amusing to staff from the fiscals' office who lean rudely on a bench whilst quoting remarks made by the accused (in a public school accent) deliberately over doing their 'ned' impersonations to break the boredom of the stuffy court for their pal Farquar from school and the long legged Fiona they knew at uni whose father owns a highland estate. Oh how they must chortle as they swirl their port after dinner in glasses that Farquars Da inherited from a great aunt. How they must urge Farquar himself to stand up at dinner and 'do the shell suit man dahling, aunty Bea will just love it....'  Such a wag, that Farquar. And when they ride out the following morning to take in the sights of the estate in all it's winter beauty - that wee guy from the East end, the one who slapped his wife (first offence) is considering nicking a cheap block of sausage from Farmfoods to feed the weans, because he now has a fine to pay.

A really young girl was up next and because we'd had a break due to an admin error - ie the papers weren't ready for the cases coming up, she was starting to withdraw from her last hit. She made no sense as she rattled and shivered, wringing her hands as we all heard what a crap mum she must be as her baby had been taken into care, and this from her own prettily made up, pony tail tossing Fiona, who was incidentally sporting a super winter tan that did not come from booth six at Taneriffe in Argyle St. (mine did actually...). So, as she tried to explain why she hadn't paid her outstanding fine - the words 'I can't afford it' were clearly audible to the whole court, the Sheriff looked aghast as he read her paperwork and leaning over he almost shouted 'but it's only seven pounds a week young woman', his incredulous expression suggesting that those young scamps Farquar and Fiona may have farted as the pheasant was served. Hey you, Mr. Harris Tweed Blairgowrie Bramble Bush, that's seven packets of rotten sausages from bloody Farmfoods, but forgive me, this young woman has had her baby taken away. What need would she have of seven large lorne's every single week? I almost expected a 'fade to Dickensian workhouse' instruction to appear on an autocue as the outraged Sheriff ordered her to attend a community service workplacement in lieu of the unpaid fine, and I'm sure I heard faint scandalised whispers as the ghosts of do-gooders past sighed painfully at the willful girl's refusal to behave. Bloody right, she probably forgets why she was fined in the first place, doesn't want to eat out of Farmfoods and needs the seven quid towards a tenner bag to alleviate the miserable dampness in her flat and her missing baby.  

The emotions of the accused's families were loud and painful to witness. A middle aged man led down for a sixty day stretch for another domestic - aggravated breach I think, held his head so low on his chest and his shoulders so slumped that you could almost see the shame pulsing from his defeated figure. Farquar, Fiona and chums saw only the greying collar, too long hair and borrowed shoes - they never know him when he was a foreman at Babcocks and known far and wide for the pride he took in his work, and his wife, the one he thumped in the street, well she cut quite a dash once as well - she taught tap and modern dance to wee lassies at the community centre in the scheme, but now she shuffles out, shabby and bruised, skint and scunnered at her life as it has become.

There were others. And it became a blur of despair as people who wouldn't dream of conversing beyond the cost of a new four wheel drive, bandied words about that seemed to cause them barely concealed mirth. 'Tap' apparently translates to 'Tep' (a water producing object jutting from the wall), and brows clear and understanding dawns, only to be replaced with further looks of confusion as they are told 'naw, a Cellic tap'! But the smiles were few and far between as the afternoon wore on.

Those who design and implement our unwieldy and cumbersome judiciary system should just watch 'Chewin' the Fat' and spend their working time, the time that we pay them for, to force those who govern to examine and repair the societal howlers that produce this unending stream of sadness. Shame on them then, to have wasted many thousands of pounds today on the public humiliation of so many who have so little, for the obvious titillation of a privileged few. The problems of the accused and their families were never addressed, nor even really acknowledged as genuine barriers to health and happiness, so they'll be back, and the names might change, and the clothes might change, but when the drink runs out, and the weans are hungry, and a tenner bag is as far away as a luxury villa, it'll all come around again. And the freezing cold wee lassie in the tiny wee skirt might just have a tale to tell about the night she met the sheriff 'up the drag' or in the park. Should be worth a few tenner bags, or a word to social work to hand her wee boy back to her and help her out for a while eh? The truth is out there...but it's sore. By the way, our young friend is fine - he was apprehended trying to sell a pheasant he claimed was road kill - to a butcher in Balornock. No really, he scudded a pie off a rival's head at a football game !

__________________
"Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town.” George Carlin


Registered:
Posts: N/A
Reply with quote  #2 
Quote:
Oh how they must chortle as they swirl their port after dinner in glasses that Farquars Da inherited from a great aunt.


Councillor, your posts are an absolute pleasure to read as they are so spot on The above mentioned "type" of people are a pain in the butt to work with When they have absolutely no understanding of how other people live What gets me angry is again its covered up  and AGAIN its the "offender" that suffers Ive witnessed this myself in the past couple of weeks .........Keep up the great posts to me its what its all about   
Councillor

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 197
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks JK, and to everyone else who has offered such a warm welcome to this forum. I've been reading over lots of previous posts and there is such a strength and feeling of unity that threads through the topics and the variety of users. I hope your own recent brush with the system has ended well - with of course you beating them/it. The truth shall prevail!

Councillor

__________________
"Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town.” George Carlin


Registered:
Posts: N/A
Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
I hope your own recent brush with the system has ended well - with of course you beating them/it. The truth shall prevail!


In the process when ive time

Hope you dont mind ive nicked some of your wording you gave me an idea for work cheers!!
REAL1

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 1,601
Reply with quote  #5 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JK
Quote:
Oh how they must chortle as they swirl their port after dinner in glasses that Farquars Da inherited from a great aunt.


Councillor, your posts are an absolute pleasure to read as they are so spot on The above mentioned "type" of people are a pain in the butt to work with When they have absolutely no understanding of how other people live What gets me angry is again its covered up  and AGAIN its the "offender" that suffers Ive witnessed this myself in the past couple of weeks .........Keep up the great posts to me its what its all about   

Totally agree with you JK


__________________
Judge yourself before judging others.
REAL1

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 1,601
Reply with quote  #6 

Scotland’s corrupt justice system - worthy of a ‘banana republic ... 


__________________
Judge yourself before judging others.
Councillor

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 197
Reply with quote  #7 
Having recovered from my day at court yesterday, I sauntered into the office at a leisurely pace this morning with one view in mind - a quiet and peaceful day. Nice thought, but a touch optimistic. As part of a larger piece of work, I've been gathering information on the proposed 'reform of summary criminal legal assistance'. These proposed changes are at the consultation stage at present and have caused a stooshie amongst the legal profession as the potential earnings from criminal cases look set to plummet on it's implementation. Last Thursday, Justice Minister, Kenny McAskill extended the deadline for responses to the consultation till 31st January. It was originally intended to phase the changes in by March this year, so even deducting the month's extension, these changes were clearly set in stone from the outset, not up for genuine consultation and not even that publicly aired as most proposed judicial changes are. The Scottish Government are driving this forward quickly, and relatively quietly because they are accutely aware of the knock on effects they will immediately give rise to.

Notwithstanding the financial impact on a significant proportion of the legal profession, and the subsequent flooding of the market for corporate/commercial lawyers, the impact on those that the Scottish Legal Aid Board was designed to assist in the first place will be enormous and will have far reaching consequences. District Courts dealing with minor misdemeanours will become obsolete, probably only useful for appearances for non-payment of fines. The same minor misdemeanours will be subject to 'on the spot' fines, similar to the current 'litter fines' and motoring fines, reducing the traffic through the courts, but more worryingly, reducing access to justice for the accused even further than at present and further empowering individual arresting officers, arming them as judge and jury with little recourse in law for the alleged offender.

There will still be some provision for legal aid applications to be submitted, but the bureaucracy anticipated for solicitors will discourage them from accepting legal aid cases. If however, a person charged with an offence does manage to battle their way through the acres of trip wires and trap doors that will become the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and find a solicitor willing to take the case on, there is a stipulation that, on submission of the legal aid application, the Crown Witness Statements must also be submitted at the same time. Only the Crown Witness Statements, no defence or any other supporting documents. The Scottish Legal Aid Board is then surely assuming a quasi-judicial role, as there can be no doubt that these witness statements will inform the decision as to whether or not legal aid is granted. Quasi-judicial powers cannot be bestowed upon statutory bodies on a whim - well it seems that they can actually. SLAB deny that this system would grant them a quasi-judicial role as this would 'usurp the role of the court'. Well, yes it would. They can deny it till the cows come home, and dressing it up in any other guise still won't change the fact that civil servants must never be allowed to operate a kangaroo court, and adding insult to injury by considering only half of the information available.

This move, if implemented, would be an enormous abuse of human rights, further reducing access to justice for those most in need of support, and who are already badly served by a sluggish and unresponsive system. SLAB have completed a costings impact on solicitors incomes if the proposals go through. This document enables law firms to anticipate future income and will clearly steer most firms, based on their own commercial interests, away from working with poorer clients. It also predicts that we can expect 'a 10% reduction in the number of accused persons reported to the Procurator Fiscal due to increased use of police direct measures such as fixed penalty notices with an anticipated 36,000 fewer cases reported.' Surely that means an anticipated 36,000 fewer accused persons with no representation, protection or right of appeal? No wonder this is weasling its way in the back door!

There are other intended changes that equally restrict the rights and access to justice of the majority of our citizens and increase the direct powers of the police, but the above really chilled me to the bone. Even the thought of marching this disgraceful abuse of human rights straight to Brussels fades as you realise that without Legal Aid to do so, most folk would be precluded from this course of action.

As our criminal justice system shudders to a grinding halt, I was also interested to learn of a visit to a final year law course made by the SLAB. SLAB Representatives told the students that unless they were in the top 1% of graduates in Scotland, they had no hope of entering the final stages of their legal training. In a move disguised as widening access to the masses, entry requirements and even course work were reduced, increasing the amount of law degree students, despite the powers that be having full knowledge of the limited amount of places available, and necessary to become a practitioner in law. There are around 300 places in Glasgow, but the wider access programmes saw law degree courses spring up at additional universities, clogging the market with the majority of students not even considered for a place, and having wasted years studying and acruing student debts. This 'dumbing down' of entrance requirements in a bid to appear inclusive is an insult to people who try to improve their lives, imagining their career 'lawyering' until retirement, only to find it dead in the water halfway through study. Knowingly encouraging people to dedicate a chunk of their lives to a course of study that will never see fruition, invalidates the lives of those concerned, leaves them in debt with reduced capacity to repay that debt and does a disservice to those who need to access the services of the legal profession by limiting the number of eventual practitioners to the top 1% of graduates in Scotland. And what are the chances, pray, of this elite number having attended a state school in deepest Govan? I rest my case, your honour.

Councillor, scunnered, tired, looking for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.... 

__________________
"Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town.” George Carlin
madmax

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 971
Reply with quote  #8 
Extremely well put councilor  The reforms to Scotland's system of summary justice – less serious cases heard without a jury stem from cost-cutting exercises and unethical legislation passed last January. Since December ten sheriffs have been able to hear some serious cases those carrying a penalty of up to a year in prison under summary procedure, easing the demand for jurors and give justice a backwards step towards a third-world countries idea of summary justice! even some JPs have been given extra training to deal with some cases.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said 90 per cent of all criminal court cases were summary and the reforms would help lay the ground for faster and more efficient justice.The truth is that it may well lead to many cases being referred to the court of appeal as a miscarriage of justice although the Law Society of Scotland gave a cautious response, particularly to the non-court alternatives. Bill McVicar, convener of the society's criminal law committee, said: "There is a balance to be struck between the need for efficiencies in the justice system and the rights of the accused."
McASkill has also to honour SNP pledge into MCkie affair - he has cast the integrity of ALex Neil and Mike Russell and the rest of the SNP into grave doubt by his appesement of civil servants.As for court reforms Sheriff's are all to apt to grant adjournments as their fellow lawyers are not ready.I can't understand why Kenny MacAskill is hailing changes brought about by the previous Executive, changes which he himself should normally be criticising as a lawyer on the rights of the accused being trampled, not forgetting the legal aid implications for his esteemed legal colleagues!Justice in Scotland stinks!

__________________
One of these days.....


Registered:
Posts: N/A
Reply with quote  #9 

Well said indeed , the diplock court method 

oldbill

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 257
Reply with quote  #10 
The Right to Trial by Jury.
 
Recently, the right to trial by jury has attracted a number of vociferous critics with deep reservations about the use of juries, most of whom are in favour of greatly restricting the use of juries with a minority desiring complete abolition.
 
This article offers a justification for the continued use of jury trials. I shall critically examine the ability of juries to render just verdicts, judicial impartiality, and judicial transparency.
 
My contention is that the judicial system that best satisfies these values is most preferable. Of course, these three values are not the only factors relevant for consideration. Empirical evidence demonstrates that juries foster both democratic participation and public legitimation of legal decisions regarding the most serious cases.
 
Nevertheless, juries are costly and, therefore, economically less efficient than competing modes of trial. I do not argue that all human beings possess an inalienable legal right to be tried by a jury.
 
However, it is my hope that this analysis will make clear what we might gainor lose when we propose jury reforms.
 
Thom Brooks.

__________________
This & That
hammer6

Avatar / Picture

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 8,395
Reply with quote  #11 

New Legal Reforms in Scotland

Source: Scottish Executive
 
Monday, 7 January, 2008

New legal reforms will bring Scotland closer to achieving a truly 'summary' justice system over the next year, the Justice Secretary said today.

Analysis of summary court cases (those heard without a jury) disposed of since the start of this financial year shows that a third have taken more than six months to conclude.

Following the passage of the Criminal Proceedings (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007, the Scottish Government is implementing a range of measures to make the summary justice system swifter and more focused on the needs of victims, witnesses and accused.

Since December 10, 2007 sheriffs have been allowed to hear more serious cases, (those which may result in prison sentences of up to one year) under summary procedure - easing the demand on the number of people having to attend court as jurors.

At the same time local Justices of the Peace have undergone additional training to equip them for dealing with a slightly more serious range of cases which previously had to be dealt with in a sheriff court.

Alongside these changes, more low level offences will be dealt with outside the court system through an enhanced range of direct measures, including increased fiscal fine levels for prosecutors, which come into force on March 10, 2008.

That date will also see fines enforcement officers taking on responsibility for the collection and enforcement of fines, with the aim of freeing up court and police time and improving payment rates.

Mr MacAskill said:

"Independence and fairness remain at the core of Scotland's criminal justice system.

"However, the system must adapt as Scottish society changes - modernising to cope with new challenges while retaining the principles on which its reputation has been built.

"Over 90 per cent of all cases that call in our criminal courts are summary cases and these reforms will help lay the foundations for the kind of justice system that will deal quickly and efficiently with offenders and help break the cycle of reoffending.

"With a third of 'summary' justice cases currently remaining unresolved after six months, too many victims and witnesses face protracted, uncertain and often stressful delays, while police officers are too often stuck in court waiting rooms rather than on the beat.

"There is simply too much delay and inefficiency at the moment.

"Our vision for a quicker, more efficient and more effective summary justice system is one shared by all sides of the Parliament.

"The reforms will help introduce a system that is more responsive to the needs of victims and witnesses but remains firmly rooted in the principles of fairness, independence and integrity on which our entire justice system is based.

"There is still much to do but these reforms arrive at a crucial phase, building on the successful reforms to solemn procedures in the High Court.

"We must seize the opportunity to ensure we have a modern summary justice system - one that is truly summary in practice, as well as in name - and one that is fit for a safer, stronger Scotland in the 21st Century."

On January 18, 2007 the Criminal Proceedings (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (CPRA) was passed with cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament. The Act contains a number of legislative changes to different areas of the criminal justice system, which taken together are intended to make summary justice faster, more efficient, and more visible to the communities it serves.

Legislation, however, is only part of what is planned; the programme of reform is considerably wider than that. Many of the forthcoming changes to practice and procedure are non-legislative in nature, and anticipate a change in the culture of the summary courts. They are intended to amount to significant reform to the operation of the summary justice system.

As part of the reform process, the management of lay justice will transfer from local authorities to a unified system under the Scottish Court Service. The SCS will take over the running of JP courts in Lothian & Borders in March, with a similar set-up being introduced in Grampian, Highlands & Islands in June.

Of all Sheriff Summary and District Court cases concluded between April and October 2007, a total of 66.8 per cent were disposed with within 26 weeks of the date of earliest caution and charge.


__________________
The TRUTH is out there...........
Admin2

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 9,066
Reply with quote  #12 
Justice reforms ‘sideline courts’
Lawyers concerned over fair hearings for accused

THE TIME-HONOURED civil liberties of the court system in Scotland are under threat, lawyers fear, claiming reforms introduced last month have handed too much power to the police and procurator fiscal service.

The changes to criminal law stem from legislation passed last year under the Lib-Lab administration, and are designed to un-clog the courts by allowing swifter sentencing and a tougher approach to bail provision.

Since December 10, many less serious offences are being dealt with outside the courts by fiscal fines, while police now have the power to set the conditions of bail by imposing curfews and exclusion orders before the accused has even appeared in court.

But lawyers say the emphasis on speed is beginning to hamper the interests of a fair hearing, and the Scottish justice system is moving toward a presumption of guilt.

Human rights lawyer John Scott, of the Edinburgh Bar Association, said: "There is concern at decision making of that importance being left in the hands of the police, and things that should be dealt with by the courts are slipping away from judicial oversight. Wherever you grant extra powers, without the proper safeguards, the scope for abuse of those powers is massive.

"These are some of the most radical changes in criminal justice in my lifetime. The justice system is supposed to ensure there is a proper forum for determining the guilt or innocence of the individual. If you scrap accountability then you run the risk of miscarriages of justice."

The latest figures reveal the use of warning letters and fiscal penalties to deal with low-level offences shot up from 72,000 in 2005-06 to 117,000 in 2006-07. Sara Matheson, president of the Glasgow Bar Association, said taking so many cases out of the courts posed long-term risks of re-offending. "Going to court was a disincentive to offending," she said. "Now there is a danger of turning too many cases into paper exercises."

Scott agreed the reforms could not be perceived as part of a get-tough policy, claiming some crime was becoming downgraded. "In Edinburgh recently, there was a case of fraud of several thousand pounds dealt with by a fiscal fine of a few hundred pounds. And there will be more cases like that. You will see assault cases and other serious crimes being dealt with this way because the fiscal decides to take it out of court."

Bill McVicar, convener of the Law Society of Society's criminal law committee, said: "We do appreciate the court system does have problems with the number of cases going through, but we raised the concern that the public might think people were getting off lightly. One of my colleagues described it as justice-lite rather than proper justice."

Yet it is concerns over civil liberties that remain at the forefront of the legal establishment's criticisms. Before the summary justice reforms, penalty notices from the fiscal were an invitation to appear in court if the accused did not respond. Now the accused is assumed to have accepted a fine and criminal conviction unless they explicitly deny the charges.

Glasgow criminal solicitor Gerry Considine said the powers of the Crown Office and procurator fiscal were greater than ever before. "The presumption of innocence has always been one of the cornerstones of our justice system, but now there is a presumption of guilt.

"Decisions in the court have always been based on the interests of justice, but this act has brought in new cost-driven criteria. It's a move from justice to expediency."

Justice minister Kenny MacAskill defended the reforms, citing recent figures showing more than a third of summary cases have taken longer than six months to reach a conclusion. He insisted the need to end delays was compatible with the fairness and independence expected of the judiciary.

"There is simply too much delay and inefficiency at the moment. My vision for a quicker, more efficient and more effective summary justice system is one shared by all sides of the parliament."


__________________
FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS
Admin2

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 9,066
Reply with quote  #13 

Britain's ancient laws of treason are out of date and should be overhauled, a senior government adviser will tell the Prime Minister this week.

Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, will use the findings of his review of citizenship and constitutional reform to call for a modernisation of laws dating back to 1351.

When he reports to Gordon Brown on Tuesday he will argue that treason laws, which include the offence of sleeping with the wife of the heir to the throne (punishable by life imprisonment), are archaic and inapplicable in modern society.

Government sources said they would "look with interest" at the peer's findings.

In 2005, Tony Blair's cabinet was engulfed by a row over whether to charge militant Muslim preachers with treason if they praised violent acts against British citizens at home, including the London bombings that year, or against troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

No treason charges were brought and Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer into terrorism laws, argued that they were not "very practical or sensible".

Current offences that can be prosecuted under treason laws include plotting the sovereign's death; "violating" the sovereign's wife, eldest unmarried daughter or eldest son's wife; levying war against the sovereign; and helping the sovereign's enemies.

Last year, at the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, five men were named by lawyers for Mohamed Fayed as having been her lovers: James Hewitt, the former cavalry officer, Will Carling, the former England rugby captain, Oliver Hoare, an art dealer, James Gilbey, a PR executive, and Barry Mannakee, the princess's former bodyguard.

Two others have also been romantically linked with her: Dodi Fayed and Hasnat Khan.

Any episodes that took place before her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996 could technically have seen her partners charged with treason. At the time, the penalty was death. In 1998, this was replaced with imprisonment up to a maximum of life.

Lawyers have long been sceptical about whether any treason trial could be successfully mounted.

The last one took place after the Second World War when William Joyce, the infamous Lord Haw-Haw, was prosecuted over his Nazi radio broadcasts. He was hanged in 1946.

Lord Goldsmith's report may also recommend updating the national anthem. He has said that God Save the Queen was insufficiently inclusive and has suggested removing little-sung verses.


__________________
FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS
REAL1

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 1,601
Reply with quote  #14 

Scottish Court Service

Just as we expected


__________________
Judge yourself before judging others.
Bilko

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 1,480
Reply with quote  #15 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Councillor
A couple of us went to court today to support a young friend who was arrested on a minor charge on Saturday and 'lay in' for the weekend before appearing in court today. Unfortunately he was one of the last to appear and we had to sit through the fog of misery that hung in the air as families shuffled on chairs awaiting their loved ones being brought up. At first I just glanced around, feeling a bit embarrassed as details of the accused's lives were aired with a bored and sarcastic emphasis on their domestic situations, dependencies, reasons for non payment of fines etc. The reasons being thrown without an expression of emotion and certainly with no effort to defend or refute any accusations towards a sheriff who looked like he would rather be prying one of his eyes out with a fork, were massive problems in the lives of the people standing in the dock and their families gathered to hear their fate. A domestic row that had ended in violence, with a young male accused of assaulting his partner, was in their eyes at least, the traumatic culmination of several months of unemployment, difficulties in establishing an income from the benefits system - and the stress of accrued rent arrears because the benefits took so long to sort out. The guy snapped when his partner told him there was no food in the house to feed their three children and he slapped his wife when she asked him to borrow money from family members. He should never have done that - that is not up for debate. Two generations ago, he would most probably have been given a 'start' in the same shipyard as his father and his income, whilst not excessive, would have afforded them a decent enough living. Food/sustenance is one of the higher priorities in Mazlow's Hierarchy of needs - we die without it. The shame felt by a parent when he or she cannot provide this most basic need is enormous. The fear of social workers prying into their threadbare lives produces unimaginable horrors and creates tension in an already difficult environment. Why then, is it amusing to staff from the fiscals' office who lean rudely on a bench whilst quoting remarks made by the accused (in a public school accent) deliberately over doing their 'ned' impersonations to break the boredom of the stuffy court for their pal Farquar from school and the long legged Fiona they knew at uni whose father owns a highland estate. Oh how they must chortle as they swirl their port after dinner in glasses that Farquars Da inherited from a great aunt. How they must urge Farquar himself to stand up at dinner and 'do the shell suit man dahling, aunty Bea will just love it....'  Such a wag, that Farquar. And when they ride out the following morning to take in the sights of the estate in all it's winter beauty - that wee guy from the East end, the one who slapped his wife (first offence) is considering nicking a cheap block of sausage from Farmfoods to feed the weans, because he now has a fine to pay.

A really young girl was up next and because we'd had a break due to an admin error - ie the papers weren't ready for the cases coming up, she was starting to withdraw from her last hit. She made no sense as she rattled and shivered, wringing her hands as we all heard what a crap mum she must be as her baby had been taken into care, and this from her own prettily made up, pony tail tossing Fiona, who was incidentally sporting a super winter tan that did not come from booth six at Taneriffe in Argyle St. (mine did actually...). So, as she tried to explain why she hadn't paid her outstanding fine - the words 'I can't afford it' were clearly audible to the whole court, the Sheriff looked aghast as he read her paperwork and leaning over he almost shouted 'but it's only seven pounds a week young woman', his incredulous expression suggesting that those young scamps Farquar and Fiona may have farted as the pheasant was served. Hey you, Mr. Harris Tweed Blairgowrie Bramble Bush, that's seven packets of rotten sausages from bloody Farmfoods, but forgive me, this young woman has had her baby taken away. What need would she have of seven large lorne's every single week? I almost expected a 'fade to Dickensian workhouse' instruction to appear on an autocue as the outraged Sheriff ordered her to attend a community service workplacement in lieu of the unpaid fine, and I'm sure I heard faint scandalised whispers as the ghosts of do-gooders past sighed painfully at the willful girl's refusal to behave. Bloody right, she probably forgets why she was fined in the first place, doesn't want to eat out of Farmfoods and needs the seven quid towards a tenner bag to alleviate the miserable dampness in her flat and her missing baby.  

The emotions of the accused's families were loud and painful to witness. A middle aged man led down for a sixty day stretch for another domestic - aggravated breach I think, held his head so low on his chest and his shoulders so slumped that you could almost see the shame pulsing from his defeated figure. Farquar, Fiona and chums saw only the greying collar, too long hair and borrowed shoes - they never know him when he was a foreman at Babcocks and known far and wide for the pride he took in his work, and his wife, the one he thumped in the street, well she cut quite a dash once as well - she taught tap and modern dance to wee lassies at the community centre in the scheme, but now she shuffles out, shabby and bruised, skint and scunnered at her life as it has become.

There were others. And it became a blur of despair as people who wouldn't dream of conversing beyond the cost of a new four wheel drive, bandied words about that seemed to cause them barely concealed mirth. 'Tap' apparently translates to 'Tep' (a water producing object jutting from the wall), and brows clear and understanding dawns, only to be replaced with further looks of confusion as they are told 'naw, a Cellic tap'! But the smiles were few and far between as the afternoon wore on.

Those who design and implement our unwieldy and cumbersome judiciary system should just watch 'Chewin' the Fat' and spend their working time, the time that we pay them for, to force those who govern to examine and repair the societal howlers that produce this unending stream of sadness. Shame on them then, to have wasted many thousands of pounds today on the public humiliation of so many who have so little, for the obvious titillation of a privileged few. The problems of the accused and their families were never addressed, nor even really acknowledged as genuine barriers to health and happiness, so they'll be back, and the names might change, and the clothes might change, but when the drink runs out, and the weans are hungry, and a tenner bag is as far away as a luxury villa, it'll all come around again. And the freezing cold wee lassie in the tiny wee skirt might just have a tale to tell about the night she met the sheriff 'up the drag' or in the park. Should be worth a few tenner bags, or a word to social work to hand her wee boy back to her and help her out for a while eh? The truth is out there...but it's sore. By the way, our young friend is fine - he was apprehended trying to sell a pheasant he claimed was road kill - to a butcher in Balornock. No really, he scudded a pie off a rival's head at a football game !


Great post Councillor, I enjoyed reading it. I note from viewing your list of hobbies that you quote ranting, making general nuisance of self, among them......Are you perchance Wendy Alexander? Just thought i would take a shot in the dark.

Bilko

__________________
Law and justice are not always the same. When they aren't, destroying the law may be the first step toward changing it. :D
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.