It is reported that a relative of a man who had just been sent to prison took it upon himself to attack the Judge at Ipswich Crown Court. The oaf responsible is probably one of the many people whose only reaction to not getting their own way is to lash out violently.This time he chose the wrong place to do it.
Inevitably he was restrained and arrested, and tonight he is sitting in a cell to await his appearance before a different judge from the one he assaulted. Only a prison term can be right here, and my guess would be a term of a month or two, or perhaps more. We do need to deter this kind of thing, as it strikes at the heart of a judicial system based on reasoned deliberation.
From the reports, Hizonner showed proper sang-froid, and he was fortunate that there were a couple of police officers in court to back up the security staff.
This kind of thing is mercifully rare, even down in the magistrates' courts where security is thin on the ground, and few police officers are likely to be available. In two and a half decades I have never felt unsafe on the bench; let's hope it stays that way.
Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Monday, June 03, 2013
It's Only Perruque And Roll
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Another fine title!ReplyDelete
Many years ago on returning from lunch on only my second day sitting as a magistrate, my colleagues and I were waiting in the retiring room when a huge noise was heard from in court. Our legal adviser came in and asked us to remain outside while matters were dealt with but said she could not give us any details. The noise continued for sometime until we heard the voice of a police officer 'You are all arrested'. Eventually the court was cleared and we were allowed to go in where we had to commit the defendant to a neighbouring court as offences had occurred within the court itself.ReplyDelete
The reasons behind the fracas involved previous witness impersonation and the potential passing of drugs in court. I thought this a great introduction to the magistracy but nothing remotely as exciting ever happened again. Of course I ever found out what happened subsequently.
Apologies for the missing 'n' in never - last sentence.Delete
Please keep us updated.ReplyDelete
From the BBC......A man who ran from the public gallery of a Suffolk court and attacked a judge has been jailed for 18 months.Delete
Paul Graham, 27, of Haverhill, was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court, 24 hours after attacking Judge John Devaux in the same building.
A few years ago a defendant was foolish enough to try and attack one of our Crown Court judges and then attempted to make good his escape from the bench. Unfortunately for him, he found himself the subject of a none too gentle Rugby tackle by the judge, rehearsing the skills he had perfected some 30 years before. His Honour dined out on this for a time thereafter.ReplyDelete
He's gone down for 18 months. It seems he objected to his brother being jailed for causing death by dangerous driving. Assaulting a judge is bad enough, but the High Sheriff of Suffolk, and his chaplain were also present in the court. Thankfully there was little in the way of physical injury.ReplyDelete
18 months. Seems very appropriate for this "attack on justice, on the administration of justice, an attack on the rule of law".ReplyDelete
It is very rare. I can recall one incident when I was a baby lawyer sitting behind Counsel in the Crown Court, and a defendant's mother threw her handbag at the Judge after he sentenced her son to a lengthy term.ReplyDelete
I believe that he chose to deal with it as a comtempt rather than an assault, and she spent the rest of the day in the cells and was let out at 4.30 after apologising (from memory, after taking some advice from her son's representative)
Also had one incident in chambers with a District Judge, on a family matter - I was for the wife/mother - her ex (who was a thoroughly nasty piece of work, and who was, at the time, on remand in connection with his firebombing of her home (while she and their toddler were inside)
He was produced from Strangeways, accompanied by a couple of group 4 guards who were of no help at all when he kicked off. Fortunately the Judge hit the panic button, and the court concerned was a large, combined court so not only the court security officers but also quite a number of police officers came running.
I was able to get my client out of his path but it was a terrifying experience. We then all spent quite some time providing statements. I'm not sure what happened, but as he was convicted very shortly afterwards of arson and attempted murder for the firebombing I suspect he asked for it to be TiC'd when he was sentenced.
But 2 incidents in 18 years isn't bad.
(there was once occasion when the dissatisfied (very soon to be ex) husband of a client of mine came out into the court car park and attempted to ram his e wife;s car to vent his feelings about the order the court had just made. Unfortunately he had not really through through what happens when you ram an (old school) land rover with a Fiat Uno. his wife kindly declined to make any claim for her scratched tail light, and he only had to wait for an hour for his car to be towed away...
I've just heard that this man has been jailed. This blog and this incident prompts a few questions from me.ReplyDelete
If this attack had taken place against a member of the public outside the court, would you say "only a prison term can be right here". If not, why not? Why do judges protect themselves by jailing those who attack them but so often refuse to use their powers to protect the public by jailing those who attack others. This attack against the judge seems quite trivial - he was physically unharmed - so to me it seems inconceivable the man would go to prison if he had done it to me in the street. How many convictions for violence (against us ordinary people) must a person get before they are sent to prison? How many times can somebody can attack a judge before they are sent down?
Bystander seems to take it for granted that this man will (and should) go to prison. Yet when Inspector Gadget complained that the courts didn't back them up against people who attack the police, he was quite dismissive of his complaints. The police are just as much part of the criminal justice system - in my opinion, more important than the courts because they have to deal with the street violence head-on - and yet they do not get the special protection which Bystander seems to think is the judiciary's right.
The criminal justice system lost its way decades ago and the jailing of this man - when he would never have been jailed for doing the same thing outside to an ordinary person in a hundred such attacks - illustrates it perfectly.
And it will be interesting to see how these two judges, the "victim" and the one who jailed the man, deal with cases of violence in the future.
I think that this answers your question, in that it was not seen as an attack on the judge as a person, but on what he represents, and quite rightly:Delete
The sentencing judge, HHJ David Goodwin, told him "your conduct was disruptive, insulting and intimidating, an attack on justice, on the administration of justice, an attack on the rule of law".
It's similar to the way in which an assault on a police officer is seen as a more serious offence.Delete
Last time I was assaulted on duty... Black eye and soft tissue injury to shoulder... The offender got £50 fine and £50 compensation. You get more for a parking fine.Delete
18 months custody. I cant help wondering what would have been the result if it was a Magistrate assaulted.ReplyDelete
Whereas contempt in the Crown Court can be marked by a custodial sentence of up to two years, the same offence in a Magistrates' Court carries a maximum term of one month in custody. This may explain why the contemnor in this case was charged under the rules of contempt, whereas a defendant who attacked a magistrate around the same time was charged with assault. The distinction is historical and has nothing to do with the relative "standings" of those "sitting" (ha, ha), but rather the gravity of the offences commonly dealt with in each of the courts.Delete
Sentenced to 18 months imprisonment this morning according to the TV.ReplyDelete
I agree 100% that this is wrong, but should not others who act in the name of the law, justice and society as a whole, be equally protected?ReplyDelete
Those who assault police officers, probation officers and prison officers should also be sent to prison as a matter or course.
Not so rare it seems ...ReplyDelete
The attacker has been jailed for 18 months.ReplyDelete
In the building I work in, the building security is provided by one of the large private companies who do such things, and the cells are looked after by another such. Recently, when there was a potentially violent incident in a courtroom, the clerk called for security, who said they could not intervene as their responsibility stopped at the court door. The cell staff said they were only there to look after prisoners. So the clerk had to call the police. Who fortunately came quickly, but not before others present - solicitors, the usher - had acted. In the present climate of privatisation, I hope someone is thinking about this!ReplyDelete
The sentence, no doubt, is because this is an attack on justice and the rule of law, not just on the individual judge.
Do they still have real police inside the Palace of Westminster? If so we can all rest easy because the really important people will be properly protected.Delete
When I see how CC Judges generally sentence, I often wish that they themselves might one day be a victim, to see how the offender would be sentenced. Now I know. To pretend that this particular assault was an attack on the rule of law is an artifice.ReplyDelete
What was he charged with? We could consult the guidelines :)ReplyDelete
Also did he have a record for violence?
It was dealt with as a contempt of court. This is, and has always been, a punishment for an attack on the rule of law rather than an an attack on an individual judge.ReplyDelete
Given 2 years is max sounds right then to me. It's about as egregious as I can imagine.ReplyDelete
An attack on the rule of law yes and a well deserved sentence. BUT, are not attacks on police, probation and prison officers not also an attack on the rule of law?ReplyDelete
Should have shot the bugger under rule .45ReplyDelete
Cant see how bystander thought a month or two would be given, I immediately thought do your 18 months and so it wasReplyDelete
What else counts - lack of provocation, public place, the Queen's court, direct challenge to court's activity (sentencing the brother) etc. Did I say "unprovoked"?ReplyDelete