Contempt

January 23, 2012 49 Comments
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Imagine a world where you can beat the crap out of a young woman whilst screaming racial abuse at her and only get sentenced to six-month jail terms, suspended for 12 months. Or you can be on a jury and do a bit of research on the defendant and share the the research with the other jurors and end up with being sentenced to six months in prison and serve three months in jail and be on licence for the remainder of the term. Yet that’s the kind of world and legal system we have to deal with where contempt of court gets you a far higher sentence than actual bodily harm, which should carry a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment but in the case of the assailants of Rhea Page just ended with a suspended sentence.

BBC.

A juror who researched a defendant’s past on the internet and shared the information with fellow jurors has been jailed for contempt of court.
University of Bedfordshire academic Dr Theodora Dallas, 34, told jurors a man on assault charges at Luton Crown Court had previously been accused of rape.
The trial in July 2011 was halted. Dallas, who is Greek, said her grasp of English was sometimes “not that good”.

Lord Judge said Dallas had “deliberately disobeyed” the trial judge’s instructions not to search the internet and added: “The damage to the administration of justice is obvious.”
He said: “Misuse of the internet by a juror is always a most serious irregularity and an effective custodial sentence is virtually inevitable.”
Her counsel Charles Parry had made a plea to the court to be merciful and impose a suspended sentence, but Lord Judge rejected this.
He said there was “no sufficient basis” for suspension “in this case an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate for the contempt which has been proved”.

Yes it was contempt of court, yes she disobeyed a judges instruction, but doesn’t it strike anyone as a bit over the top considering some of the more lenient sentences handed down to thieves, robbers,thugs, bullies, murderers and various other offenders to come before the courts that we’ve read about over the last 20 odd years?

It was pretty much the same with the case of Norman Scarth an 85 year old pensioner who was jailed for six months for recording court proceedings though eventually freed by the court of appeal who substituted one of 12 weeks which as he’d already served 12 weeks meant he was free to go.

Yes, people who breach the rules of a court should face a penalty, but when it’s compared to cases where people have died or been violently assaulted and given what amounts to a trivial slap on the wrist, then you have to view the situation where our judicial/legal system is seriously out of kilter.

Is this deliberate? Many of us now seem to think so where an apparently multi tiered justice system seem to give certain groups or certain actions a far different approach to others. Some of it is down to the Human Rights Act, others down to spurious “hate” laws over and above the normal law depending on your colour, religion or sexual preference.

It strikes me now, that the only way any of this can ever be put right now is a revolution, we need to remove the powers that be and completely rewrite the system to be fair, free and just for all.

Will it ever happen? I have my doubts, it just doesn’t seem to concern people enough other than a vague unease every so often often quashed by an “exciting” episode of Britain’s got mind bleach on ice.

I have a feeling that the inevitable revolution will actually be a power grab by the powers that be to remove the last of our freedoms and install rule by a powerful untouchable elite controlling a bunch of ignorant drones.

I hope I’m wrong.

49 Responses to Contempt

  1. Steve W
    January 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    As far as the entire article goes, I was thinking more or less the same thing as I heard the 6 month sentence on the radio as I was heading home from work.

    Specifically this bit:
    “I have a feeling that the inevitable revolution will actually be a power grab by the powers that be to remove the last of our freedoms and install rule by a powerful untouchable elite controlling a bunch of ignorant drones.”

    I sometimes worry that it’s already happened!

    “I hope I’m wrong.”

    Me too.

  2. Maaarrghk
    January 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    I too was apalled by this one.

    If they want to JAIL anyone for “contempt” of court, then might I humbly suggest that they start with witnesses to crimes who refuse to give statements as they “don’t want to get involved”.

    Perhaps then we would see a little more justice in our country.

  3. Steve W
    January 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Unfortunately, that the fact her boyfriend, albeit almost entirely ineptly, attempted to defend her could be taken as a mitigating factor in their defence suggests that both of our hopes may be misplaced.

    Apologies for replying to myself, I’ll let someone else get a word in now.

    • January 24, 2012 at 5:52 am

      The defence should have appealed the sentence on that alone – one man against three or more screaming harridans? How can that be ‘excessive force’?

      • January 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

        Regardless of the legal procedure, a letter to the Attorney General should make the point.

        link to attorneygeneral.gov.uk

        The A-G doesn’t get nearly enough letters from the public giving specific examples of annoying inconsistencies.

        The first instinct of the AG’s office is to write back and say you are wrong and they aren’t going to do anything (because usually they constitutionally can’t), but you can see a frisson of outraged entitlement and fear that somebody has dared to pull them up on something.

  4. Dave G
    January 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    It’s all about ‘protecting the establishment’, keeping the ‘status quo’ and letting the plebs know who the boss is. Nothing whatsoever to do with ‘justice’ – we all know justice is reserved for crimes against the state and the PTB.

    Any attempts at revolution, as welcome as it may be, will be deflected, delayed, devalued (whatever) by a different series of events that will be ‘managed’ by the PTB to maintain their power over us. If this means another World War… so what?

    At the end of it there will be less of ‘us’ and more of ‘them’ and the situation will carry right on from where it left off.

    • Maaarrghk
      January 24, 2012 at 5:53 am

      I once spent an evening in the cells for giving a young lad a thick ear for throwing stones at my windows and motorbike (while I was working on it).

      I received an adult caution. The interviewing officers parting shot was “Don’t take the law into your own hands in future.”

      Says it all really.

      By the time he was 16, the “victim” of my “crime” had been locked up twice for car theft and his family had had to sell their house twice due to ASBO’s he’d got – which serves them right for sticking up for his delinquent behavior.

      • Henry Crun
        January 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

        To which the correct reponse is:

        “When the law fails to protect the citizen, then the citizen is entitled to take the law into his own hands”.

        I believe it was Plato that said that.

  5. Daedalus
    January 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Dave G is so correct about this. The problem for this lady is she did something the court told her not to do and the judges DO NOT like someone trying to take the mickey out of the system. The two immigrant “ladies” who kicked seven shades of whatever out of the poor lass who had got into a kerfuffle with them were obviously unaware of the legal system because they the judges had not had an opportunity to tell them; several times.

    Daedalus

    • January 24, 2012 at 5:51 am

      Spot on!

  6. Lee
    January 23, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    If I was on a jury I’d do the job to the best of my ability. If that means online research and informing my fellow jurors, well so be it. No judge has the right to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do; especially since I wouldn’t have volunteered to be there in the first place.

    I hold the entire judicial and legal systems in contempt…and would tell the judge exactly why.

    • Radical Rodent
      January 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      I hate to disagree with someone on here, but if you are on a jury, you are assessing the guilt or otherwise of the person in repect to the crime committed, not on what had been done in times past. Your best ability, as a juror, is to determine the weight of evidence set before you in the court, ignoring any other factors that may – or may not – seem important outside the court. Regrettably, many jurors do arrive burdened under the weight of their own prejudices.

      That said, I do think that there are terrible holes appearing in the much-vaunted principles of British justice. With any luck, it is those who are madly papering over these holes will eventually slip down into them.

      • nemesis
        January 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm

        May be so, but how sick would you feel if you had given the defendent the benefit of the doubt and let him off, only to have the judge tell you after the verdict that the defendent had 32 previous convictions for the same crime.
        Intersting word ‘prejudice’ – I presume stems from pre-judge. If you were walking down the road and three burly, angry looking fellas armed with sticks were marching toward you – you would do well to ‘prejudge’ the situation and cross the road.

        • January 24, 2012 at 8:44 am

          May be so, but how sick would you feel if you had given the defendent the benefit of the doubt and let him off, only to have the judge tell you after the verdict that the defendent had 32 previous convictions for the same crime.

          I wouldn’t. It is up to the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. If there is doubt, due to lack of sufficient evidence, the defendant walks. That’s exactly how it should be regardless of “previous”. If they cannot prove that the defendant committed the crime, then too bad. Not the jury’s problem. I would feel a damned sight sicker if I convicted an innocent person. That is why these rules are in place.

          • January 24, 2012 at 11:23 am

            This is a bit each way. Previous is important at the investigative stage because it’s related to modus operandi. While it has to be proved in court, the idea that a c*** defence or prosecution or even, in the Knox case, a c*** judge allows a crim to be released or vice versa is not good.

            This is why the adversarial system is bad. It’s two lawyers showboating at a jury and the rules on what’s admissible or not are ludicrous. The “hearing” model is far better, as all evidence that can be found by interested parties on all sides is put.

            You can still use a jury to decide and there is no assumption of guilt in the least. I’d rather an open enquiry than a legal theatre deciding my fate.

            • January 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

              I am inclined to agree regarding the adversarial process. However, unless it is changed then the jury is our best defence against miscarriages. Remember, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution, so the process is weighted in favour of the defendant. Given the nature of the system, this is absolutely right.

              • Dave G
                January 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm

                “Remember, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution” – but for how long?
                Nearly EVERY low-level offence assumes ‘guilt before innocence’ – the fine arriving in the post before you even know what you’ve done…. or how about ‘arrest without charge’? ‘Detention without trial’?
                The burden of proof (innocence) resides with the DEFENDANT now.

              • January 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

                DaveG I share your concerns. The ASBO is a prime example of he process being eroded, as are those summary tickets for various low level offences. However, innocent until proven guilty is, still the process in a criminal trial.

          • January 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm

            Agreed. It’s the case in hand that needs to be proved

        • Radical Rodent
          January 24, 2012 at 11:42 pm

          “…the defendent had 32 previous convictions for the same crime.”

          That does not automatically make him guilty of the crime this time. It is up to the prosecution to prove that the defendant IS guilty, not presume it on past performance.

      • Lee
        January 24, 2012 at 6:53 am

        What right would you have to tell me how to behave on a jury? An Englishman/woman has the right to be tried by their peers – and that includes people such as myself who hold unconventional views.

        I do not believe in the system of trial by jury as it is at the moment; in effect I believe that we should try the person, not the crime, and any relevant information about previous convictions or past behaviour should be disclosed to both the jury and the public.

        Everything should be out in the open.

        • January 24, 2012 at 8:50 am

          I do hope I never appear in the dock with you on the jury bench. The whole principle is that the jury is assessing the evidence of this crime, not previous ones. Just because someone has previous convictions does not mean that they committed this offence. It is up to the prosecution to prove it, beyond reasonable doubt and for the jury to be open minded and look at the evidence presented in court – not what they have gleaned from the Internet. That is why we have a fair trial – or, at least, we should. And jurors doing what this woman did and you would happily do undermines that and increases the likelihood of a miscarriage of justice.

          And if I was on a jury with you and you decided to share your “research” with the rest of us, I’d promptly let the judge know as the trial had been undermined. No, I don’t think you should get six months inside any more than the woman we are discussing, should – it’s way out of proportion to the offence. But the jurors who ratted on her were absolutely right to do so.

          What right would you have to tell me how to behave on a jury?

          More importantly, what right have you to unilaterally undermine the English legal system and take liberties with the defendant’s liberty? Innocent until proven guilty is there for a good reason.

          So, yeah, we have every right to tell you what you should be doing as a juror.

          • nisakiman
            January 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

            Agreed. Previous should not be part of the equation, even though it might seem to be relevant. Ok, so this guy had a conviction for rape. Rape can be notoriously difficult to prove, or disprove, and there must be many guys out there with a rape conviction who have been set up by a spiteful woman. It happens. This may, or may not be one of those instances, but it certainly shouldn’t influence the jury’s decision.

            But six months sentence? Well over the top. A sensible course would have been to fine the woman costs and to dismiss the jury. Then start again.

            “…a power grab by the powers that be to remove the last of our freedoms and install rule by a powerful untouchable elite controlling a bunch of ignorant drones.”

            Like the EU, you mean?

            • January 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm

              I agree – or community service. It isn’t the jury system that is broke, so much as it is the sentencing guidelines. Six months for this and a suspended for actual assault brings it sharply into focus.

          • Lee
            January 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm

            You do not volunteer to be a juror, neither are you employed; therefore you are not bound b y any contract.

            I have every right to undermine the English legal system, I’m a citizen, a free man and an Englishman. I believe that the system is wrong, bloated, corrupt and corrupted, and have every right to do whatever I see fit to change things.

            • January 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

              The matter of choice is neither here nor there (although I disagree with conscription in principle), you are bound by the law. You do not have the right to deny the defendant a fair trial, which your proposed actions would do. Who do you think you are being so cavalier with someone else’s liberty, just to satisfy your own ego trip?

              • Lee
                January 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

                It’s called freedom of speech and democracy.

                Why are you so arrogant to assume that your interpretation of things is right and mine is wrong?

                I am not telling anyone else how they should behave on a jury, merely explaining that I will not be told by anyone else how I should behave.

                I will do as I see fit, as a man of good faith and moral integrity: you must abide by your own moral code…but don’t you dare try to impose it on me.

              • January 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm

                It’s called freedom of speech and democracy.

                No, it is not freedom of speech, nor is it democracy. it is someone’s liberty on the line and it is not your place to jeopardise that by sending an innocent person to gaol because you don’t like the system.

                Why are you so arrogant to assume that your interpretation of things is right and mine is wrong?

                Because I’m not interpreting anything, merely pointing out the system and how it works. If you want to campaign to change it, then fine, I would agree that it needs changing. You do not, however, play fast and loose with other peoples’ liberties.

                I will do as I see fit, as a man of good faith and moral integrity: you must abide by your own moral code…but don’t you dare try to impose it on me.

                But it’s okay for you to impose your arrogant self-righteous pomposity on the defendant who may spend years inside for a crime not committed. Jeebus!

    • John
      January 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      And everything you read on the internet is true is it? You’re an idiot.

      • Lee
        January 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

        That’s your opinion – I don’t agree with you, so I’m an idiot. I still have one vote just as you do though, either at the ballot box or in the jury room…that’s something to think about.

        • January 24, 2012 at 9:34 pm

          Easy on the ad hominem, boys.

        • January 24, 2012 at 10:14 pm

          Yes, but you do not have the right to undermine the fair trial of the defendant. This means not prejudicing it by conducting your own investigation. The police investigate, the jury weighs the evidence.

          • Lee
            January 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm

            This is only your understanding and interpretation.

            • Radical Rodent
              January 24, 2012 at 11:53 pm

              Actually, it also seems to be the understanding and interpretation of everyone else on this thread. Perhaps it is only you who is in step; everyone else is out of step. (And perhaps I shouldn’t have said that; your apparent pomposity would no doubt believe that is so!)

              • Lee
                January 25, 2012 at 6:42 am

                Yes, I seem to have a different opinion to everyone else on here, possibly due to my life experiences. My opinion might be right, it might be wrong, foolish or misguided…but I have a right to hold it and express it. If you’d be uncomfortable with me sitting on a jury you shouldn’t force me to then, should you?

            • January 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

              No. It. Is. Not!. It is the law.

              …but I have a right to hold it and express it. If you’d be uncomfortable with me sitting on a jury you shouldn’t force me to then, should you?

              Jeebus!

              We are not forcing you to do anything. The state is the one forcing you – or any of us – to sit on a jury. Please note the difference. What we are doing is pointing out an objective fact – that your proposed actions are illegal or didn’t you bother to read the OP? Not only is it illegal, it is actively undermining another person’s right to a fair trial. You have no right to do this – it is not only illegal, but highly unethical. Their lives are not yours to play fast and loose with.

              Sometimes, civil disobedience is an appropriate response to bad law. However, when doing it, you accept the consequences. You do not co-opt unwitting victims to your cause.

              You have the effrontery to accuse people here of arrogance. A period of introspection is in order.

              “wrong, foolish, misguided…” All of the above.

              • nemesis
                January 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

                Reminds me of: “If the law is on your side, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If neither the law nor the facts are on your side, assassinate the character of the witness.”
                or something to that effect!

    • Henry Crun
      January 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Lee, others in the thread have been far too polite. You are a fucking idiot.

  7. January 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    The whole thing beggars belief, I noticed this on the telly today and am lost for words.

  8. Stephen
    January 24, 2012 at 7:47 am

    How does a Greek person whose grasp of English is, by her own admission, sometimes “not that good” (a) get employed by an English university, and (b) get to sit on a jury in an English court?

    • January 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Presumably she is on the electoral register. Qualification enough for the latter…

      You’d have to ask the university for the former ;)

  9. Wolfie
    January 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    These cases tell us something about the current elite and their enforcers in the judiciary.

    That maintaining the authority of the judiciary is far more important than applying British law in any even-handed manner or indeed protecting the innocent and maintaining the peace (the original remit I believe).

    The judiciary however do have a long history of being arbitrary bordering asinine. You only have to read Dean Swift’s excellent “traveller’s tales” to be reminded.

    Mind you, I’m fairly certain that similar requirements are made of Greek Juries – they invented the system.

  10. Dave G
    January 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    There has to be something said in support of the American method of jury selection then. At least the resultant jury will satisfy both sides of the bench AND they would be fully informed of the ‘rules’ before the start of the trial – anyone with objections to those rules could dismiss themselves accordingly.

    • January 24, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      We have an element of that – but, yes, I would agree it is probably better to adopt their system. And, certainly if people such as Lee disagree with the process, then it is better they do not serve rather than disrupt the process.

      • Lee
        January 25, 2012 at 6:44 am

        I didn’t realise the American system was different to ours – I shall have to investigate online.

        • January 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

          As I understand it, there is more to the voir dire process. the jurors are examined more intimately.

  11. Furor Teutonicus
    January 25, 2012 at 5:45 am

    XX Dallas, who is Greek, said her grasp of English was sometimes “not that good”. XX

    Then what the FUCK is she doing on a jury, where, if you consider “life” in prison as “The end of life as you knew it” (BIG “if” I know, but you kind of understand what I mean…..hopefully. :???: ), she has “the power of life and death” over the accused???

    Except for being stuck on the fifth floor of a tower block where you need to call the fire brigade, because the flames are allready licking around your bollox, surely a jury is about the MOST important place in the bloody WORLD, where it is absolutely 100% NECCESSARY to have a good grasp of the language of the country you are in?

    As far as the main point goes. Aye, give the Greek cow 20 years, but ONLY if the other bastard swings for what HE did.

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