Tuesday, 19 March 2013

After 50 Years, Gideon v Wainwright Hasn't Delivered

It was a case that promised so much but in reality has delivered so little. In 1961, Clarence Gideon was charged with burglary of a Florida pool bar. Unable to afford counsel at his trial he was unrepresented and ultimately found guilty. Sentenced to five years' imprisonment he appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States on the ground that the Florida law denying him counsel was unconstitutional.

The Justices agreed, Gideon was retried and acquitted.

But in reality the funding simply hasn't materialized to allow poorer defendants representation in some criminal cases. Of course, it's not a political priority and the public at large have little sympathy for those charged with committing criminal offenses.

But the case was a landmark and should be celebrated as such. Allowing an accused person access to an attorney regardless of their means is a fundamental principle in a civilized society. There's an excellent video here from CBS in which Professor Norman Dawson is interviewed.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Yeee-Hah! I'm Texan For A Day

I often marvel at some of the crazy laws that get passed by state legislatures in the South. From restricting the teaching of evolution in schools to liberal gun laws, Texas is probably the biggest culprit.

But now it seems the good 'ol boys have actually got something right for once with their proposed new law banning the buying and selling of shark fins.

This rotten  trade is stimulated by an obscene demand from Asians for a soup that doesn't even taste that good. Sharks in their millions - yes, millions - are being fished live, their fins hacked off and their bodies kicked back into the water. No wonder world shark populations are falling dramatically, with many species at serious risk.

So Yeeee-Ha!! I'm a Texan for today. The full story is here:  http://bit.ly/WwjJZy

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Elder Abuse - We Should All Be Annoyed

Picked up on this story recently:

Lawyer asks jury for millions in elder neglect case: bit.ly/YabxZh

 ...and it got to me. As someone whose parent died recently from Alzheimer's it struck a chord. OK, the Plaintiff's lawyer was over-playing on the emotions of the jury just a little but I have to say I'd take his figure...

...and double it.

How To Prosecute A Dead Person...

Not hard if you're in Russia. What a story.....and these guys think they're a modern democracy?

Echoes of Stalin as dead lawyer goes on trial in Russia. Yes, really: bit.ly/Z682Ht
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