Another tale. by Raistlin

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I was chairing a trial yesterday morning. it was a domestic violence trial, the defendant was alleged to have assaulted his 8 year old son and his partner.

The prosecution case dragged on longer than it should have and, although the prosecuting and defending advocates were as gentle as could be, the youngster, although remote from the Court room in the video suite, was clearly cognizant enough to understand that he was saying some dreadful things about his Dad. It was all very emotional and tearful, even for those of us who previously thought ourselves inured to such things.

We, as a Court, were booked into the Court room for the full day although morning and afternoon Courts are considered separate. At just before 1pm, it was clear that the trial would have to go part heard ie. return on another day to complete the trial. Not the best of outcomes, but at least the vulnerable witness had completed his evidence.

As a Bench, we suggested that the trial should continue after lunch and our other cases be set back or adjourned. Unfortunately, this cannot be done because, although a trial going part heard to another day doesn't count as extra cost, continuing the trial on the same afternoon does.

Unfortunately, after our best efforts, a further date could not be agreed upon. You see, exactly the same people have to return for the continuation and it just couldn't be done for at least three months hence.

This meant that I had no alternative but to declare a mis-trial, meaning that the trial would have to be re-heard, in its entirety, in front of a different Bench, at a later date.

I'm not really qualified to say what effect that further wait, combined with having to go through the same evidence again, will have on the young lad... but it won't be good :(

Justice wasn't done yesterday, but Mammon was served.

I, for one, would certainly like to ask one or two ministerial bean-counters if they thought it was worth it, bearing in mind, of course, that the financial saving on a part-heard trial, as opposed to a trial continued into the afternoon, is nothing more than short term "creative accounting", and in real terms would be the least cost effective solution.

Cogito ergo sum... maybe?

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Posted 11 Jan 2014, 23:50 #1