16 December, 2009

Pupillage not advertised on the Portal

Hmmm, given the rubbishness that has been the Pupillage Portal this year. And given it has closed for the year. And given there is no longer 'newsflash' - what is the position if I have seen a pupillage advertised but if it is not listed on the Portal? I have already applied for it, and would be very keen to get it, but is it worth me flagging this issue up with them? (I only found it because I was looking through the website specifically for other jobs)

Thoughts?

23 September, 2009

Best Daily Mail headline

... is at Boing boing.

On a less sensational note, if you haven't seen the Daily Mail headline generator, check it out here.

16 September, 2009

How much does crime pay

How much does crime pay? $22 per day for burglary, according to "When Brute Force Fails: How to have less crime and less punishment" as reviewed by Marginal Revolution.

I wonder if the reason for crime rates not falling proportionally can be explained by Sudhir Venkatesh's analysis of why drug dealers live with their mothers (also used in Freakonomics)


PS: Also love penguin bringing back their old paper back covers for a number of books (check out the Freakonomics link if you don't know what I mean)

15 September, 2009

Domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition

I tend to be in favour of parties being allowed to contract any which way they choose on most issues - and I think it's good that people should be able to pick and chose aspects of health insurance to find a policy that fits them.

However, I draw a pretty big exception line under the policies which are classing domestic abuse as a 'pre existing condition'. Whilst I can see it is perfectly logical from the company's point of view (people who suffer domestic abuse once are more likely to suffer from it again in the future), I just can't imagine what was going on in the mind of the individual who came up with this one in the first place.

Protest Banners: Left vs Right

Marbury makes an interesting comment about the different visual that you see at a left wing protest over a right wing protest commenting that:

... The [right's] protests were homemade, and touchingly so: unslick, amateur, unorganised... [At] rallies organised by the left - you see thousands of identical signs... At these tea parties, everyone made ... their own....

EDIT: Marbury writes: Um, not my comment. I'm quoting Jay Nordlingler. And the repulsive "homemade" sign in the picture is meant to draw your attention to what Nordlinger didn't say.

MMoM: Apologies for misquoting.

14 September, 2009

Mrs Voldemort?




This post from Dizzy Thinks observes that of all the influential women in politics over the past century (according to a Government list publish recently), only one is listed without her name.

Check out 1979 by clicking on the picture to make it bigger.

13 September, 2009

Lehman Brothers

This observation on Marginal Revolution is interesting in terms of Lehman Brothers spurring government action:

...without the immediate panic caused by the Lehman default, the government would never have agreed to make the loans needed to save A.I.G., a company it knew very little about. In effect, the Lehman bankruptcy caused the government to panic, which in turn caused it to save the firm it really had to save to prevent catastrophe....

Maybe locking the right stable door after a 3 legged horse has bolted can prevent the purebred racehorse from following it. (You might have noticed that the last comment lacked a little something - like a knowledge about 'good' and 'bad' horses. Apologies to all equiniphiles out there.)

09 September, 2009

One of Your Five A Day?

I've had a general background mistrust of the 'six litres of water/vitamin supplements/organic food/five a day" 'science' for a while. Too much seemed to be taken too literally with too few footnotes to seem wholly true.

I therefore found this article "Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice" by "CSI" (Committee for Sceptical Inquiry) quite interesting.

07 September, 2009

Healthcare Myths and Facts

I was on McSweeney's and I quite enjoyed this piece of analysis within commentary on the American healthcare debate... Can't help but feel he might just have hit the nail on the head there!

MYTH:

People in Britain are deeply unhappy with their socialized medicine system, which ours will become.

FACT:

People in Britain are deeply unhappy with everything. It is their only source of happiness.

28 August, 2009

24 August, 2009

French Lessons

Bonsoir!

Well, I start in French because The Boy and I have recently started private French lessons.

Mme V is very good and provides a two hour lesson at hour house followed by complimentary supplementary lessons over the phone.

The reasons for the French lessons are because we plan to hold the wedding in France. My French is inexact, but I am happy to muddle along until I find I forget a word so completely that I cannot even replace it with a similar word (for example, I may forget 'voir' (to see) and temporarily substitute with 'regarder' (to watch)).

I think the problem is coming, however, that whilst The Boy did French at GCSE and I did not, my 'comprehendable' French is far more fluent than his - partly t do with my ability to 'give it a go' with any language (French, German, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, Turkish....).

Anyway, the point of this post is partly the apologise for the lack of recent update (sorry) but also to say that is anyone is looking for French tuition, I do thoroughly recommend my current teacher and please get in contact with me if you might be interested

07 August, 2009

Superfreakonomics - closer to publication

Ohhh, Superfreakonomics publishing date is getting closer and closer...

They've just shown what the front cover looks like, here.

The exploding Orapple/Apange underneath the suicide bomber question on the front tickled me.

06 August, 2009

Chorizo and Potato Cassero'

I tried this is Odder on the Oxford Road and was inspired to try my own at home.

This is the best recipe I've managed to do:

Chorizo Potato Cassero'

Ingredients:
Red onion(s), red pepper(s), Chorizo(s), tinned tomatoes/tomato sauce, paprika, tabasco, garlic, chicken stock. New potatoes.

To serve: Creme Fraiche and sour dough bread

  1. Fry a red onion and red pepper (chopped roughly - this is a rustic style dish) in olive oil.
  2. Add the chorizo (after cutting into chunks - about half a cm thick but about 3 cm long. If you cut 'on the diagonal' it looks prettier)
  3. Add garlic salt/fresh garlic, lots (and a bit more) of paprika and a bit of tabasco. Bit of celery salt tastes good too. Or you can use fresh celery for a bit more texture.
  4. Fry for a few minutes. (5-10 should do it). If it looks a little dry with the powders, don't worry as the oil from the chorizo will come out. If you are worried, add an eggcupful of water or so.
  5. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and tomato puree or add a red pepper and tomato pasta sauce
  6. Add one of those Knorr liquid chicken stock things. Or a stock cube.
  7. Season.
  8. Simmer for a while.
  9. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes.
  10. Go and do something interesting for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Chuck the potatoes in the stew after draining them.
  12. Serve with a dollop of creme friache on the top and a chunk of the sour dough bread on the side.
I allow one chorizo sausage for 2-3 people and 1 onion and red pepper for each sausage.

31 July, 2009

Sob

**Boo Hoo**

30 July, 2009

Waiting

Please tell me the waiting is crippling everyone else?

I seem to have spent every moment that I've been within 5 metres of the internet flicking between the Portal (of Doom), thestudentroom, other 'snitch seekers' blogs and my email.

Thoroughly unproductive.

On another note, does anyone know whether there has been a 'freeze' on the portal (so that even if it were updated, no information would come through to the candidate until 31 July - like UCAS at results day) or whether it is 'live' but chambers are under threat of death should they update.

Basically, the question comes down to the time that it is acceptable to ring chambers in a quiet room to burst into tears over the phone at them. I'm guessing 8:30 am might be a little early, but if I didn't hear one way another by the end of the day, by the end of the weekend I might well just be a little bundle of nerves with a sign above my head reading 'here lyeth the remains of a failed barrister'.

Nightmare.

19 July, 2009

Interview progress

Well, this year have had 3 first round interviews.

One of which I fluffed and they promptly (and rightly) told me I wasn't through to the second round a couple of days later.

On the other two, however, the panel appeared to have suffered from a collective delusion and have invited me back for second interviews.

One of these, I have already done (hence the previous question on written exercises - in the end, it was a 45 minute legal essay on any subject of my choice - I chose my 'rant' on parental leave). The other, I have just been told of today. It's a full day interview over the next week. Should have asked what to expect but was, frankly, so stunned to be told that I ended up just saying 'yes' and 'thank you' like a computer says 'no'.

The set is a provincial, criminal set with a small civil team. Any indications of your experiences of day long interviews (even if note in similar sets) would therefore be most welcome - please!

03 July, 2009

"Written Exercise"

Are there any guesses as to what a "written exercise" at an interview may entail?

29 June, 2009

Portal down?



Anyone else noticed pupillage portal down?


I'm getting the message to the left when I go to www.pupillage.com





Redirect Loop

Redirection limit for this URL exceeded. Unable to load the requested page. This may be caused by cookies that are blocked.

The browser has stopped trying to retrieve the requested item. The site is

redirecting the request in a way that will never complete.

* Have you disabled or blocked cookies required by this site?

* NOTE: If accepting the site's cookies does not resolve the problem, it is probably a server configuration issue and not your computer.

27 June, 2009

Sound Advice

I received a message from my boss last night wishing me luck for today, with the following message:

"...

Same advice as to witnesses:

Listen carefully to the questions and be honest with them!

..."


I thought it was a lovely analogy (especially as much of my job is chatting/preparing the witnesses before they give evidence).

Now I just need to make sure I come up to proof :)

26 June, 2009

On Mourning Celebrities

Yes, he was talented. Yes, he broke new ground. Yes, it's sad when anyone dies.

But really, unless you are a family or friend, why on earth are you in floods of tears/joining a support group/setting up a shrine?

"Oh no, that's a shame. I wonder if anyone will make a joke about [insert here]" would seem a far more usual approach.

JK Rowling dying before Book 7 came out would have been upsetting. Obviously, it would be sad that she had died (again, because she is a person and it's always sad when a person dies) but it would be annoying because we would never have known the end of the series.

I wonder if I am a bad human being?

23 June, 2009

Double fingers crossed

More good news today!

Let's hope that one will be good practice for the other. I'm having absurdly unrealistic fantasies about possible outcomes.

Any spare digits, please cross.

21 June, 2009

Poptarts and debating

Debating tip #56: Use your POPTART.

20 June, 2009

Ethics Questions

I'm busy cramming for the upcoming interview (having forgotten that areas such as 'contract' even existed) and so am sorting the legal knowledge for myself, have got my supervisor at work to run through with 'fluff HR questions' with me (eg: dinner party, biggest weakness, why the bar) but would like your collective opinions on two ethics questions. I don't think there is necessarily any 'right' answer, I would just like to know your thoughts.

1. You are prosecuting in the crown court. One of the jurors is wearing a 'I (heart) the BNP - whites rule' t-shirt (or similar). What do you do in the following scenarios (is your answer different in any of them):

a: A white man is accused of raping a white woman (ie: a crime with no race element and where a race element could not be perceived)

b: A black man is accused of raping a white woman (a crime with the potential to be perceived to have a race element)

c: A white man is accused of racially aggrevated assault towards his asian neighbour as it is said that he yelled a racist comment to his neighbour in the middle of a dispute in which he also spat on his neighbour. (ie: a crime where race is an inherent aspect of the offence).


2. You are prosecuting. The defendant is unrepresented. You have learned of a number of mitigating factors which the defendant fails to put forwards himself. To what extent are you obliged to put forward those matters on his behalf and how would you go about doing so?

Let's assume that 'asking a senior member of chambers' or 'phoning the Bar ethics hotline' are not options.

I know what I think my answers would be, but I would like to have them confirmed!


Thank you for your thoughts.

09 June, 2009

Pupillage progress

Well, after even more rejections over the past week (including a few of the ones I especially wanted) have just got a first round interview with one of my top ones! Whoop :)

Most happy and far less cynical with the whole process now!

All fingers and toes crossed, please!

04 June, 2009

Debating tip on IR

...Courtesy of The Onion, here is an example of the easiest way to win an international relations round.

Applications

Well, it turns out not everyone hates me.

I have just been told I have been successful at the telephone interview stage for a job and have been invited to the assessment centre.

Fingers crossed.

That, and another pupillage form submitted. This one has been my favourite so far for ease of lay out - I was able to C+P my CV into most of it an the 'free writing' sections had suitably broad, yet sensible questions with no word limit.

Toes crossed too.

03 June, 2009

Points mean prizes

Well, I have accumulated 7 rejections over the past 2-3 weeks, a mixture of OLPAS and non-OLPAS.

Will review the rejections soon - some I genuinely like far more than others.

I think (though I seem to have lost track!) I have 9 applications outstanding at the moment. I also have two half completed which I need to submit.

How are you all doing on the win/lose/draw front? Many interviews? If so, at the moment, sod off and leave me (and others) to our collective misery!

The worst thing is the people who ask, and are trying to be nice, how the hunt is going. Damn them.

Bitter times.

08 May, 2009

New OLPAS form read as thoroughly?

I was chatting with the barrister I was clerking, yesterday, and it turns out that she is on the pupillage committee for her chambers.

In terms of the number of interviews in the provinces v London, she said that in her set they get about 400 applications for 3 pupillages. They interview about 20 people. I'd be interested to hear more on how many interviews other London sets offer relative to the number of applicants.

The other discussion we had was on the new OLPAS form. I complained that as it was longer, surely pupillage committees could not afford to spend as much time on each form and so it would be read less thoroughly. She completely disagreed saying that she reads each form, in full and just does 1 hour worth of form read each night. She observed that actually, the OLPAS timetable means that chambers do have plenty of time to review forms thoroughly and that given how important the forms are to the applicant, she said she found it important to read each one thoroughly.

Comforting to know on one level, if only my form wasn't so rubbish!

07 May, 2009

Pupillage statistics: London v Provincial

Interestingly, it turns out one of my pupillage providers is less competitive than I had anticipated.

They have just sent me an email telling me that my form has been printed and who will be considering it - which is a nice touch in itself as it gives a warm fuzzy glow of positive progress before the inevitable rejection - but they have also been kind enough to tell people the odds.

There aree roughly 250 applications of whom they will interview 80 people.

Perhaps it's because this is the first time I've applied to London, but I'm pleasantly surprised. I get the impression that regional chambers tend to interview only about 10% of applicants. Whilst one of the reasons my London friends have far more interviews than me is no doubt their excellent CVs (including things like FRU, which we in the -impoverished - 'dark satanic mill' - cities of the North students can only dream of), perhaps part of the discrepancy is because London chambers interview more candidates.

Of course, I am basing this all on a single application - but I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and experiences on this one.

Or, of course, just plan scandal and rumour!

06 May, 2009

OLPAS clearing

What are you all doing re: the OLPAS clearing application when it comes to the various mini essays?

I can change many of mine to be fairly generic, but am currently unsure what to do about the 'why this chambers' section.

Provisionally, I have just written 'CLEARING' in the box and left it at that - but my clearing form isn't yet submitted so can change.

Other approaches?

05 May, 2009

OLPAS score 5.5.09

As I stayed up until 2 am on the original deadline date to finish my apps (falling asleep on the computer) I was both pleased and disappointed that the deadline was subsequently extended. By the time I fell asleep, I had done 8 applications. Luckily, I started with the ones I wanted the most as the final ones were not good!

The next day I was at a hearing which meant I did not have any internet access - hence what was for me the relative forward planning in finishing the majority the night before.

Midmorning, I then received a text from a friend telling me the deadline had been extended until the next day. I was then told that my hearing was adjourning until the next day to allow time for decisions to be made, so I went back to the office and filled in two more applications following recommendations from people in the office.

My slight disappointment with the deadline extension is therefore the idea that of the eight applications I originally made, I could have filled in the last 4 far better if I had not been so tired when typing - knowing about the extension earlier would have meant I would have left them for the next morning.

So, the OLPAS score currently stands at: 10 apps sent, 1 print off, 9 nil responses

23 April, 2009

OLPAS timetable

Crap. I have logged in and filled in the bits about name and address, but haven't actually got round to any of the rest of the form.

That would seem ok (given that we have a week) except that I'm out to dinner tonight, spending the weekend at a debating competition in Newcastle and I have a training session after work on Monday.

12 OLPAS applications in 3 days? (well, in 9-12 hours ass I have a crazy thing called work to do the rest of the time).

Possible?

18 April, 2009

New addition to blogroll

Pupilpedia's blog has now been added to the blog roll.

I firmly believe he needs a new name (and PP just doesn't sound good out loud). Perhaps on the PP theme, I want to call him Pingu (no, I don't know the link either - it's just a worrying insight into my mind. Take an aspirin, it'll be over soon!).

Thoughts?

13 April, 2009

To OLPAS or not to OLPAS, that is the question

Damn, 4 whole days off work and not a single word further into my OLPAS app. To the extent that I didn't actually log into OLPAS all weekend. Double damn.

Oh well, can feel marginally virtuous on the grounds I have now chosen the 12 sets I want to apply to. Some progress, I guess.

Save the Sea Kitten!

On the whole, there is very little I agree with PETA about.

However, credit where it's due, I love this campaign to 'save the sea kittens'.

(My sea kitten is called Dee Dee and has a unicorn horn, a ball of wool and a pink dress. She's one hot salmon!)

Google Stats

The lazy option for any blog post! This month's top key words, by order of number of hits:

1.




2.




3.




4.




5.




6.




7.




8.




9.




10.







Interestingly, or not, I usually sort my stats by time spent on page rather than hits. Is that merely vanity?

By time on site:

1.

00:23:26

2.

00:18:30

3.

00:18:08

4.

00:15:56

5.

00:11:21

6.

00:07:35

7.

00:06:49

8.

00:06:24

9.

00:05:57

10.

00:05:57

11 April, 2009

Debate on anonymity in rape cases

My post on 'what law would you change and why?' (I gave anonymity to those accused of serious sexual offences) has been picked up and responded to by Ms Marcella Chester in her blog abyss2hope.

She disagrees with me on a many issues. Her post is copied, in full, in italics below, followed by my response (in non-italics). As you can see, I take the view that many difference of opinion lie in the differences between the US and UK. After posting my response on her blog, I checked the US law and my assumption was right. Frankly, I find the notion of thinking its acceptable to force a rape victim to stand in court and give testimony the the defendants face appalling and a wicked example of reading the letter of the law over the spirit.

Comments are invited, especially from anyone who can correct me on Crim PR or anyone who knows the US equivalent of 'Daily Mail reader'.

M

False Allegation About Ease Of Making Rape Allegations

From This Side of the House:


Now, I think I might opt for anonymity for people accused, but not yet convicted, of serious sex offences.

I think that rape is a very serious accusation to make, one of the most serious after murder. Why, therefore, would I argue to grant anonymity for rape and not for murder? Well, it's because the accusation of rape is far easier to make.

With murder, you need a body, for starters, and then there needs to be a plausible explaination as to how you saw the murder occur (you being the accuser in this case). Murder is a crime of action, more than anything else. If you kill a person, if you don't have the requisite mens rea, it is still considered a very serious crime indeed.
The very reason Miss Middle of Manchester claims that a rape allegation is easier to make is why in fact the accusation of the crime of rape is harder to make and why rape is so under reported.

This explanation does demonstrate why false accusations of, "she wasn't raped," against living rape victims are especially easy to make. For starters, there is no body to be disposed of.

False allegations in murder cases are made and often come from the murderer, who points the police toward someone who is innocent. Yet this fact is ignored.

Gerald Pabst is one example of someone who successfully pointed the police toward an innocent man who was wrongfully convicted and later exonerated. Pabst was aided in his lie, which helped wrongfully convict Clay Reed Chabot, by twice passing polygraph exams. Pabst was eventually charged after he was matched via DNA to the murder of Galua Crosby.

Since this type of false allegation is in fact easy to make, then, by her own logic all those accused of murder should have their identity shielded unless or until they are convicted.

If Miss Middle of Manchester is claiming that she would find making -- true and false -- rape allegations easy to do then she needs to state this directly rather than using a blanket statement to cast unfounded doubt on all those who do report having been raped.

As a volunteer victim advocate for over 9 years, and as an activist, I have never met or talked to any rape survivor who found reporting easy. Even for those who were determined to see their rapists held legally accountable, reporting was not easy.

However, I have seen how easy it is for accused rapists to make the allegation that they are the victim of someone who should face criminal charges. I have seen how easy it is for people who claim to be against false allegations to make the false allegation that a lack of charges, dropped charges or an acquittal are proof that the reported rape never happened.

A variety of excuses are used to deem certain rape victims non-credible and therefore never to be believed. It can be the victim's possible motives for lying, being drunk, criminal history, profession, marital status, prior reporting of rape, etc.

I've had a man leave a comment on my blog that an alleged victim wasn't credible because she is black and the alleged rapist is white with a link to a report that misuses US crime statistics to "prove" that white men don't rape black women.

The list goes on, but none of these listed items are a magical protection against rape. Yet in far too many cases they are a magical protection for rapists who make false accusations against those they raped.

The ease and success of these false allegations is aided by Miss Middle of Manchester's next paragraph:

With rape, every part of the act is legal, providing it is done with consent. Rape, as a crime, therefore depends on the 'more difficult to prove' issue of consent. The complainant and the accused can both agree that they had sex, the only fact in issue is whether she said 'no' or not and the evidence for that is almost certainly going to be less cogent than a dead body.
This allegation is older than I am and is no more true for the crime of rape than for any other crime. Punching someone is legal with consent and in fact people pay to watch people punch each other. Yet there is clearly far more than 'no" that separates a boxing match from a physical assault where the criminal uses his or her fists.

Few people would accept the allegation that the only difference between murder and assisted suicide is whether the alleged victim said "no" or not. We get that these 2 experiences are far different so that baseless claims that a murder was an assisted suicide won't be viewed as being reasonable doubt. If this excuse is widely accepted we understand how this helps those considering murder and how this endangers public safety.

"They had sex," is not what has been agreed upon as fact when an alleged rapist uses the defense of, "it was consensual." Yet this lie gets repeated by those who claim to be against false allegations.

"We had sex," is a counter allegation.

What the failure to see, "we had sex," as an allegation does is create the illusion that rape and consensual sex are indistinguishable by anyone who wasn't there and indistinguishable by the rapist who claims that "no" wasn't heard or understood. This is a very dangerous false allegation and too easily made.

We certainly would never believe that murderers who claim "assisted suicide" simply misunderstood the situation. We certainly wouldn't tell people in crisis that they must clearly communicate that they don't want to commit suicide as murder prevention.

The false allegation that rape and consensual sex are almost identical helps rapists rationalize their crimes because if there is no difference other than "no" between consensual sex and rape then there is no reason for rape to be a felony or even a serious misdemeanor.

This dangerous false allegation is why so many rape victims -- who are believed -- are asked by an investigator if they really want to ruin their rapist's life by continuing with a true allegation of rape.

This explains why so many rape victims face harassment, threats and assaults by those championing people accused of rape.

Those who report rape have been arrested on unrelated charges, murdered, and become targets of murder-for-hire plots.

Those who report rape have been falsely arrested for making a false allegation. This can happen because investigators make bad assumptions. Or because the investigator succeeds at coercing that rape victim into recanting without bothering to do an actual competent investigation.

Here are details from the false allegation in Pennsylvania based on bad assumptions:
The woman was working as a service station clerk in Cranberry on July 14, 2004, when a man entered the store, sexually assaulted her at gunpoint, then stole $606.73 from the cash register. She called for help from local police, but the responding officers were skeptical of her account. Ms. Reedy ultimately was charged in January 2005 for making false reports to police, theft and receiving stolen property. She lost her job and spent five days in jail while she was pregnant.
So what allegedly is an easy action for rape victims to take, for this woman turned into multiple false charges. These false charges would have likely led to a wrongful conviction if her rapist hadn't been caught raping another woman under similar circumstances in a different county and if that rapist, during the interrogation, hadn't confessed to committing the rape other investigations guessed had never happened.

The harm would be to more than this woman's reputation. Being convicted would make her much more vulnerable to being raped by those who know that a woman convicted of filing a false police report would be labeled as a serial false accuser if she rightfully reported rape a second time.

The township official shrugged this injustice off by saying that hindsight is 20-20. That makes as much sense as shrugging off amputating the leg of someone who went in for knee replacement surgery. Both are malpractice.

Hearing the equivalent of, "so sorry, the doctors here are doing the best they can," should send chills down people's spines.

This is the type of investigative practice which can also lead to wrongful charges against those who were not victims of rape and who were wrongfully suspected of committing violent crimes. However, many people who claim to care about dangerous underlying practices shrug these proven injustices off as acceptable collateral damage because the damage was done to someone who reported rape.

Most of those who spread this meme about the ease of reporting rape justify spreading this false allegation in the name of protecting people from false allegations. This is nonsensical unless you don't believe rape victims are innocent and don't care about false allegations made against those who are also raped.

It doesn't matter that Miss Middle of Manchester goes on to write that her gut tells her that false rape allegations are rare.

Her beliefs about rape will, as she notes, cause some jurors who know that the prosecution has proven the defendant guilty to vote for acquitting a rapist because the process of being rightfully charged and rightfully tried seems to be a sufficient punishment for rape. This belief is based on those jurors' minimizing beliefs about rape.

That this action will cause someone who was raped to be labeled by many as a false accuser will be of no import to those jurors since the only person's welfare they are thinking about is the rapist's.

Miss Middle of Manchester needs to educate herself about the full reality of false allegations and the reality that rape is not merely consensual sex with a, "no," preceding it.


__________

My response:

Dear Marcella,

Thank you for both taking the time to read my blog and providing such a considered response.

Firstly, by way on context (for those who just read this response), the question (and 'answer') was "what law would you change and why?" and the far more subtle sub context was that it was a question from a pupillage application form and so I wanted a somewhat more 'legal academic' argument than necessarily advocating something I am actually passionate about.

That said, I fear that my comments have been misunderstood - which is obviously my fault for being imprecise with my words.

Before I address my main contention, it may seem relevant that I write from an English law background and our criminal procedure rules are somewhat different from those in the US. In the UK, as soon as a woman makes an accusation of rape, the presumption is that she is granted anonymity. From that point, she will be referred to as Ms A in every public document. The media is prohibited from ever publicly naming her, in the allegations she will be referred to as Ms A, throughout the trial, the public may be restricted, for her evidence, she does not have to be in the court room (and if she is, she will be behind a screen) and she will usually give her evidence via video link and therefore not see the defendant at all. I believe that the situation is very different in the US system where the legal injunction that the accused has the right to face his accusers is taken at its most literal. I believe, and please correct me if I am wrong, that when a woman makes an accusation of rape in the US that then goes to trial, she must then go through the additional ordeal of giving her evidence in person, whilst seeing the defendant in the court room. I don't make any claims that the UK system 'cures' the problems of reporting a rape, I merely think that the system, rightly, tries very hard to make a difficult experience somewhat easier.

So where do I, respectfully, disagree with you?

Firstly, I believe that implicit in the model that I gave (although, again, it assumed a reasonably degree of knowledge of criminal procedure) was not from the moment of the first accusation - as you rightly point out, all kinds of crazy accusations are made which have no substance or proof for all manner of crimes - but from a later moment. If asked to consider, I would probably say from the moment of arrest (or that the warrant was issued, where applicable) - ie: from the point at which it appears there is a prima facie case against the defendant, but before the media could possibly be interested (or know anything).

I agree that this would not assist in the example you refer to of Pabst - no law is perfect - but I believe that it goes to a deeper problem.

I don't believe that for a woman who has suffered a rape that reporting it is easy. I don't believe that the number of 'cry rapes' is ass high as the Daily Mail would like us to believe (Fox News is probably a reasonably equivalent here). However, I do believe that there is a higher incidence of women who have not been raped reporting a rape and it being taken to a higher level than of the same happening for murder, for instance. Even taking into account evidential problems of 'he says, she says' as well as the trivialisation of rape within the CPS (who decide whether or not to prosecute a case on the basis of 'reasonable prospect of success'), a reporting --> conviction rape of less than 2% in some areas of the UK has to invite some comment of this nature.

I agree that the 'she consented' defence is 'too easy' to make. Because the evidential burden rightly lies on the prosecution, there will always be a number of cases where this is a successful defence where it should not have been.

On the issue of 'consent' for assault, again, I believe there are differences between UK and US law. In order to consent to assault for sport, there are a number of criteria that have to be 'ticked' - a 'boxing fight' on the street at night where one party claims the other consented would not cut it under UK law.

I cannot agree with your example of assisted suicide as it is inherently a medical procedure and as such, as fairly explicit documentary rules for consent.

My point is that rape is a unique crime. 'Dark alley' rape may be easy to prove, but given that something like 90% of victims know their attacker and the overwhelming majority of rapes take place in private, within a dwelling, evidence of consent is obviously harder to obtain.

Equally, I stand by my statement that rape is a crime of Mens Rea. In the UK it is defined as "the insertion of his penis by A into the vagina, anus or mouth of B where B does not consent and A does not reasonably believe B consented" (Sexual Offences Act 2003)

The crux of the matter is therefore a reasonably belief in consent - ie: an issue of MR. I also cry scorn on the idea that 'no' is a minor thing in this instance. The very existence of that 'no' turns a generally mutually pleasurable act into a violation of the most severe kind. I have said why I think that your assisted suicide point was irrelevant in this context, but to return to it for an instance #9and to assume that we are working in a frame work where assisted suicide is legal) the issue of 'no' would again be the crux of the matter there. If AS is legal, then the giving of a lethal dose of (say) morphine is a neutral act. It is only where there is no consent that it becomes problem.

My final point was a more subtle one on the intricacies of popular perceptions on collective decision makig in a retributive environment - but again, I think the legal differences are so great that it would not necessarily apply in the US. In the UK there is a perception amongst the Daily Mail reading public that there is a lack of parity in rape cases and that proceedings are biased toward the complainant - one aspect of which is granting anonymity to Ms A but not to the D. It doesn't matter whether this is true or not, those people are making decisions based on their perceptions. If a change can be implemented that causes no harm to the case, but could easily have a wider social benefit, it is surely incumbent to consider the issue.

I hope you will not mind if I copy your original article and my response for my blog, as well as posting this response here.
________________

I should also note that I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to rehash the arguments and improve on their clarity before I ever have to do the same thing in front of a committee. I also recommend her blog for useful example in debates on this issue.

09 April, 2009

More unintended consequences

Cracked has an article on 5 laws with unintended consequences - Freakonomics style and worth the read.

Hat tip: Prometheus Titan (his blog here)

05 April, 2009

What law would you change, and why?

Traditionally, I've gone for my 'change maternity leave into parental leave' rant. Then there are all sorts of laws which are great to change in debate world, but less suitable to discuss in an interview.

Now, I think I might opt for anonymity for people accused, but not yet convicted, of serious sex offences.

I think that rape is a very serious accusation to make, one of the most serious after murder. Why, therefore, would I argue to grant anonymity for rape and not for murder? Well, it's because the accusation of rape is far easier to make.

With murder, you need a body, for starters, and then there needs to be a plausible explaination as to how you saw the murder occur (you being the accuser in this case). Murder is a crime of action, more than anything else. If you kill a person, if you don't have the requisite mens rea, it is still considered a very serious crime indeed.

With rape, every part of the act is legal, providing it is done with consent. Rape, as a crime, therefore depends on the 'more difficult to prove' issue of consent. The complainant and the accused can both agree that they had sex, the only fact in issue is whether she said 'no' or not and the evidence for that is almost certainly going to be less cogent than a dead body.

I also wonder whether treating a person accused of rape with more sympathy may improve the conviction rate. There can be no doubt that some women 'cry rape' and are lying, however, my gut feeling is that this is a very rare phenomenon which is exaggerated when discussing conviction rates. However, the perception that it is frequent does create a certain amount of sympathy for those accused of rape 'perhaps she's just being nasty - it'll destroy his reputation whether or not he is convicted'. I wonder if a jury, who are perhaps sure that he did it, but only by a narrow margin, might sometimes think that the accusation means that he has suffered enough, and acquit on that basis.

What are you views? And what law would you change, if you had the chance?

25 March, 2009

BVC provider query

I have just been asked the following by a friend, and would be interested in your opinions:

He has applied for the BVC and has offers from MMU, UWE and City.

He did his undergraduate at MMU.

He cannot decide between MMU and City. The course fees for MMU are c£9,500 and the course fees for City are £14,500. He has applied for an Inns scholarship but does not know if he will get it. He has to make his choice on BVC provider before he will know this information.

I told him that knowing what I do now, I would probably still choose MMU as it looks after its students more (for all its flaws). OTOH, City has a higher pass rate (though having seen a sample exam and heard about the teaching, I think it may be due to different exames) and he wants to avoid being 'just' MMU all the time.

Your views? City or MMU?

17 March, 2009

OLPAS 2009

Well, it would seem that it's the time of year when we all start complaining about how rubbish pupillages.com is - and with good cause.

This year, however, the site has been re-done which offers SO much more scope for comment.

Firstly, the good:

The ability to search by city/circuit is a very positive step. The old system of London/everywhere else showed the wonderfully London-centric view which ends with counsel trying to put forward the argument that his client would of course have time to drive from Manchester to Newcastle and back, in his lunch hour, because both are 'oop north' and therefore close to each other.

Ironically, this year I am applying to all non-OLPAS chambers in the order of application deadline rather than my approach last year which was to prioritise the North West, which makes this function less useful - but I will still give credit for it being there.

Secondly, the glitches:

I can only assume the 'search by deadline' date issue is a glitch. For those of you who haven't experimented with this one, let me explain it. I had assumed that 'search by deadline' would mean that if I typed in, say, 31 March, I would get all chambers with deadlines between today's date and 31 March. It turns out that isn't the case. When you type in a deadline, it will only give exact matches. Combine this with the loss of newsflash and it means that every week I'll be search the next 14 days using 14 separate searches. Again, I can only assume this is a glitch because who in their right mind would design this deliberately?

Thirdly, the bad:

Law minx and the comments on Andropov's page have covered this to a large extent but starting with no FAQ page and finishing with 'too many clicks'. The first is self explanatory, the second is that in order to see what is in a sub- sub- section, I have to click on it as the summary up front isn't detailed enough. I can see how having a long page time out on you is frustrating, but so is not being able to finish a page.

The other deeply annoying thing is how long the 'free text' boxes are. If you need 350 words for whatever it is they are asking about, I would suggest you probably need the skill of being concise. It also means that a pupillage committee has to spending longer reading waffle on forms meaning, ironically, they have less time to actually consider them.

I was surprised, last year to find out that pupillages.com doesn't charge for the service. That's commendable, but I wonder if it would be able to provide a better service were it to charge each applicant a small sum each year to use it - say £10. The sum isn't enough to put people off (even UCAS is £15) but would perhaps allow them to give better service.

11 March, 2009

Northern Ireland attacks

D Doyle has a very interesting post on the Northern Ireland Army attacks of last weekend. I recommend reading it. Here.

25 February, 2009

Bar Boy

Please let me view your blog!

24 February, 2009

More on Macmillan

Well, after a bit more research I found out here that the Crystal Macmillan prize is "A memorial prize [which] is awarded annually in her name by the society of the Middle Temple to the highest placed woman student in the bar's final examinations".

Who'd have thought it?

20 February, 2009

placebo+nudge=panacea?

Interesting article on Comment Central about placebos, both in medicine and in the economy.

I don't think homeopathy works, per se. However, it certainly has an effect when people think it will. Given that many diseases to have a psychological link (look at how quickly many patients recover when told they will be discharged in the next few days) then perhaps it is as well to continue to use homeopathy for 'homely' diseases - ie: fairly regular, uncomfortable but non-life threatening - such as eczema. Just because the science doesn't add up, if the sugar pill has the same affect on the patient as the 'real' pill and sugar is cheaper, give out lots of sugar pills.

The time I think there is a problem is obviously for diseases such as cancer. If people have got used to believing the sugar pill works for their coughs and colds, I can easily see a number of people trying the same for their cancer.

In the economy, I agree with the article's 'unethical' point, but equally, all of the economy is a confidence game (I don't say this is bad) so perhaps there could be a middle line to tred betweenthe outright lie and the modifying of behaviour - perrhaps a 'nudge' is what is needed.

Books

Well, this seems to be a more intellectual version of the '25 things' meme going around Facebook:
The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Instructions:
1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.
5) Tag some friends


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowlin x+
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible - x
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell x
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman x+
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott x+
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare x (done enough, anyway)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk x
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffingber
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald x
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams x
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck x
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll x
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy x
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x+
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis x+3
7 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini x+
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres *
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden x+
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne x+
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell x+
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery x
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy x
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood x+
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan x
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel x+
52 Dune - Frank Herbert x
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth x
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon x
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens x5
8 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon x+
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck x
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov x
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt x+
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold x+
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding x+
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens 7
2 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett x+
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson x+
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome x
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell x
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert x
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White x
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom *
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton x+
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad 9
2 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery x
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks *
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare x
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl x
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

TotalRead: 44
Loved: 19
Want to read: 3

I'm somewhat hindered by the fact I dislike most 19th century literature - if I could count the ones I've watched the BBC adaptations of, I'd be sorted :)

Ironically, I would guesstimate that I own at least 85% of these....

19 February, 2009

Silks 2009

Well, it turns out that Scary Defence Barrister has just been made a Silk.

Makes her even scarier, IMHO, but she deserves it really.

17 February, 2009

Free Pizza

Two-for-one voucher for pizza at pizza express valid until end of February from the Times website.

12 February, 2009

Competitive government?

On Megan McArdle's blog, one of the commentators posted this, which is interesting.

"I've never seen a libertarian theory of the economy that's plausible in a country as large as the US. I think things like voluntary payments in lieu of taxation might work in a community of, say, 100 homogenous people."

Bob, what makes you think the current system is plausible? It should be obvious to anyone who is paying attention that the American system of government has broken down. The checks and balances of the three branches of government have failed to check and balance and the growth of state power has not only continued, but accelerated. Government spending has increased as a percentage of national economic activity to the point where the risk of default or hyperinflation approaches a mathematical certainty. Supreme Court Justices and legislators are biased toward increasing presidential power because, among other reasonst they draw their paychecks from the Executive Branch Department of the Treasury. Personal freedom has diminished to the point where we actually celebrate the ability to choose between despot A and despot B the way a condemned prisoner might be grateful to choose between death by hanging or firing squad.

The reason why I am so concerned about the usurpation of power by the Executive (and to a lesser extent the Judicial) branch is that the effect is a transfer of power from the citizenry to the government as a whole. Only Congressmen and senators are directly elected by majority vote. The president is selected by the Electoral College and the justices and judges of the federal courts are nominated by the president. The legislature is the branch of government most accountable to the people and it is the branch that has yielded it's authority to the other branches. Among other things, it has lost much of its authority to make war, negotiate treaties, and control spending.

Many patriotic Americans will argue that, although the system is imperfect, it is still better than many alternatives. I actually agree with that claim, but that doesn't mean that the current state of affairs is acceptable. A failure is a failure, regardless of the degree to which it is preferable over worse failures. Having herpes is wonderful compared to having AIDS. House arrest is better than prison, but the domicile we are confined to is starting to look more and more like a penitentiary every day as the cage's gilding loses its luster. Considering the rate at which our less-than-ideal situation is deteriorating, the "it could be worse" defense is particularly unconvincing.

The central weakness with constitutional government is the government's ability to use its rule-making power to modify the rules that limit its power. This is accomplished through constitutional amendments, presidential signing statements, judicial review, judicial activism, selective law enforcement, and other legislative tricks. In the U.S., this has meant that, in just over two hundred years, the government has morphed from a relatively benign force of minor inconvenience into a near-omnipresent leviathan that interferes with almost everything we do. It may not be totalitarian yet, but it is clearly headed in that direction. In order to arrest and reverse this descent into servitude, alternatives should be considered.

I propose that, instead of three branches of government, we adopt three (or more) completely independent and non-territorial governments. I make this proposal because it is not the concept of checks and balances that has failed, but the inadequacy of the particular system in place that is the source of our problems. I know this is a radical proposal, but no more radical than the constitutional republic that we live under now was when it was first proposed. A radical solution is called for because, in my opinion, attempts at incremental reforms have been no more effective than efforts to liberalize the mafia or the Ku Klux Klan would be. It is simply not in the nature of a territorial or monopoly state to relinquish its power or operate in a non-coercive fashion.

Considering how unusual non-territorial competing governments are, several objections spring to mind. I will address a few of them here.

1. Isn't a known but flawed system preferable to an untried solution?

In fact, a system similar to that which I propose lasted for 300 years in Saga-era Iceland, which is longer than our current experiment in democratic republicanism has been running. Actually, as drastic as my solution admittedly is, when looked at another way, it is not so radical. People have the option of changing governments today by moving. I am merely suggesting we extend that same option to those who choose not to relocate. By increasing the ease at which we could switch governments, they would be forced to become more responsive or risk losing their subjects (and tax revenue).

2. Wouldn't a lack of a strong central Government invite invasion?

It's true that a group of non-territorial governments would be less able to protect us from foreign and domestic threats, but the upside of that limitation is that the governments themselves would be less threatening both domestically and abroad. The attacks on Pearl Harbor and the World Trade center killed thousands, but not nearly as many as the Washington policies of slavery, the draft, Indian eradication, and Jim Crowe. Protection from government is at least as important as protection by government, and a decreased ability to prevent attacks is a decreased ability to aggress against other nations and consequently a decreased likelihood of provoking attacks against us.

3. What's to keep anyone from just choosing no government and stop paying taxes altogether?

Most people would still prefer to choose a government for the same reason most people now prefer to buy food rather than growing or raising their own. In economics, the phenomenon is known as Specialization. Nothing would absolutely prevent anyone from opting out of collective government altogether, but the benefits of specialization would encourage most to retain the services of a government at the same time such an arrangement would ensure that the governments would provide services equal to or exceeding the tax revenue they collect (otherwise, they would go out of business).

4. Wouldn't having several competing governments be less efficient?

Some economies of scale would be lost by having several redundant governments, but the benefits of competition outweigh the benefits of monopoly. If governments were run more like private businesses, the incentives would be reversed. Currently, a state agency that does a poor job asks for and receives more funding, which effectively rewards poor performance. Alternately, private companies usually lose revenue or go out of business altogether when they perform poorly and they profit when they do well.
These objections are by no means comprehensive, nor are my responses to them. The purpose of this proposal is not to end discussion but to start it. Real world constraints require practical, not utopian, solutions. As time progresses and the failure of democratic republicanism becomes more apparent, this discussion will assume greater importance and the need for some kind of alternative will be obvious. In my pursuit of a solution to the separation of powers problem, I have drawn on the ideas of many others. I don't claim to have developed this idea on my own and in fact very little of it is original. My goal is not to challenge the ideals of the American Revolution, but to advance them beyond their current implementation. Liberty is a noble objective in itself, but it is also the surest path toward future prosperity.


And later

"There is no choice between government and no government, there is just the choice between big government, small government, and good government/bad government."

DrPat, there is a choice between a state and no state. It's MONOPOLY government that's the problem. Voluntary, competing governments of varying sizes with no permanent exclusive territorial areas of operation would work, just like the providers of every other kind of service works this way.

"At least with our current system, everyone has some sort of say."

Really? Which election was decided by your one vote? Assuming there was ever a 1 vote victory, do you honestly think that it would stand or would it get thrown into court? Voting is worse than a waste of time. It lends legitimacy to a thoroughly corrupt system.



I very much like the idea when it comes to provision of goods and services, and taxation, but I wonder what the response is if a person who affiliates with government A commits a crime against a Ber. Will the Aer be metaphorically extradicted to B's criminal justice system?

I would link to Bearded Spock's blog but his name takes us to this link instead.

09 February, 2009

Scrabulous

Scrabulous is back on Facebook, though it's renamed to Lexilous (or similar) and has 8 letters.

I'll admit to being a little OCD on scrabble, I like it and I'm good at it - not the least because I learned the two letter word list a loooong time ago.

It's quite amazing how much harder the game is when you have one extra letter. All the bingos which usually fall into place fail me utterly.

Nevertheless, I battle on. Mr Zero, it's your go.

08 February, 2009

Coupling

Just spent most of the weekend watching coupling.

I'd seen the first series before, but not seen any of the others and had forgotten how funny it was.

I do recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it.

My only problem is how much sense Jeff makes. Ahem.

04 February, 2009

News

I'm engaged!

03 February, 2009

It's a panacea!

An Indian Court has been petitioned to ban Google Earth because it allegedly helped the Mumbai terrorists plan their attacks.

Yes, well, so did the map makers of paper maps. And the airlines/train companies who transported them. Don't forget the markets that fed them.

Ahem, for a far moer articulate rebuttal ofa silly idea, click here.

02 February, 2009

Riding out a recession? Training contract

Well, it seems the best way to ride out the recession is to be a trainee in a law firm as they are almost completely unsackable - even for gross misconduct, let alone minor details like profit margins.

In order to sack a trainee, you need the permission of the SRA....

More here.

01 February, 2009

Dreaming of Galbraith

Goodness knows what was going on in the depths of my subconscious last night but I merrily dreamt all about Galbraith submissions. That and images of plums and little piles of dust (representing duff, I imagine) were floating in an out... I think I need to drink more and eat less chocolate!

My only possible reason for this is that the case with Scary Defence Barrister has finished and in the last two cases against her, she has made submissions of no case to answer (and she was successful on one but not on the other, if you're interested in the record) at half time.

The way that hearings work is that, unlike criminal trials where there usually aren't too many allegations, there tend to be a great many made. It is therefore possible to have withdrawn, admitted and lost 50% of these at half time, but still have enough left to make up a case which could potentially lead to impairment. By way of example, the case that is starting on Monday has about 80 allegations (from memory).

However, many allegations aren't in themselves perjorative, it is only when they are added together that they may become so.

Whilst I'm on the theme, the hearing process is also different from a normal criminal trial because there are three stages rather than 2. Obviously, in a trial the facts are decided upon and then it is sentancing. At a hearing, the panel firstly decides which facts are found proved. They then decide whether, on ther basis of the facts found proved, that the practioner's Fitness to Practice is impaired. Finally, if they have decided that there is impaired FTP, they decide what sanction, if any, is appropriate.

Ok, a very boring post and possibly the most detail on my job that I have ever - or will ever - blog!

Needed to get it out of my system less the crazy dreams start again!

Real time, real life, dead people tweets

Genny Spencer is twittering a day-by-day diary of a 1937 farm girl.

You can follow her here. Definitely worth a visit.

31 January, 2009

Chrystal Macmillan Prize

Well, I was pleasantly surprised to open the post today and find a letter from Middle Temple enclosing a cheque to me for being awarded the 'Chrystal Macmillan Prize' in 'recognition of [my] acheivements on the BVC'.

A brief research on the internet shows that Chrystal Macmillan was a suffragette and one of the first female barristers, the prize is therefore for women at the Bar. However, more than that, I have been completely unable to find out.

I have e-mailed Christa Richmond back and will update you all as soon as I have more information.

______

I also have some VERY exciting other news (not related to the Bar at all) but will have to wait for a few days before telling you. . .

28 January, 2009

The funniest man in the world has a blog....

I have just discovered, to my joy, that the funniest man in the world (or at least the 2007 and 2009 debating world championships) has a blog.

For those dear blog watchers out there who don't know who Willard Foxton is, I can tell you that words cannot possibly do him justice and you just MUST go over and have a read.

He will be added to the blog roll straight away.

(ps: the rule with Willard, by the way, is that the more outragous a story seems, the more truth there is in it. A story about him being kidnapped by pirates whilst shopping for milk is likely to be true*, a slightly humourous story about who said what to whom is less so).

* to understand Willard's relationship with the truth, try imagining the truth as a person. Now imagine their relationship is as functional as a play boy bunny's relationship and about as long lasting. Then you're about 6.5% of the way there.

26 January, 2009

Japan and languages

Well, I got the Japanese tour so I'm very excited about that. I go in October, which is useful in terms of annual leave.

Decided that seeing as the Japanese are allegedly about as good at foreign languages as the English it would be a good idea to spend the next few months being able to read and speak some Japanese before I go.

Turns out, after a very brief bit of internet research, that having learned Chinese for a year is helpful when it comes to one of the three scripts that they use. More helpfully, Salford University offers evening classes which I think I might take up as they seem reasonably priced and I can (just) get from the office to the classroom by 6.

I have to say, I've missed learning stuff since leaving uni. The job has been quite good in that repsect as most of it is still new, but I like to learn for it's own sake and I think languages could be useful in this regard.

I'm too old to become fluent in another language - though I am encouraging the Boy to get work in Germany if he can because that would be my best bet for a second fluent language - but I think it would be good to have c250-1000 words in say 15-20 languages and a smattering of grammar. Means you can be understood literally anywhere in the world and could usually get around.

So far on that list I probably only have 4 - good German, basic French, very basic Chinese and very very basic Turkish. By very, very basic I mean I can count to ten, ask where stuff is, order various foods and drinks and haggle at a market as well as the various 'polite words' - it's all vocab, no grammar.

In non-Roman scripts, learning how to look a word up in a dictionary can take ages in its own right. Try "我是英国人" without using an online dictionary. And typing into a computer is also a lesson in itself (in this case, I typed the pinyin in making sure it was on Chinese input setting and the computer converted the pinyin into characters)

Moral quote of the day

"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."

-Jingo, Terry Pratchett

24 January, 2009

ESU interviews

I recently applied for ESU debate tours and went to London for the interviews today.

Was asked what I was doing in life and I am increasigly glad for The Barristers as I now get to say "well, I've just finished Bar school but I'm working as a paralegal whilst I search for pupillage which is like a barrister apprenitceship" and the response is "oh yes, I watched the TV programme on that..."

My first choice is Hong Kong, then Japan, then Lebanon, then Bermuda, then Austria and then Armenia.

More details on interview tomorrow - tired and bedtime now. Yawn, zzzzzz

Fingers crossed!

23 January, 2009

Home Schooling

I was reading one of NHS's facebook notes and so have directly stolen the following from him, needless to say, I like it. for those of you who do know him, the link is here . EDIT: Forgot he has a blog, the original post can therefore be seen here.

_____
The government loves micro-managing classrooms in the state sector. And why not, you might ask? It's their money, and if they want to decide what consitutes great literature, a major historical event or the right way to introduce literacy, then who are we taxpayers to quibble?

But the government often tires of its own toys and experiences an irrepressible desire to reach out and play with the education of children who don't use state schools. This would seem not to be their business, until you remember this is the 21st century and they hold both the rights'n'responsibilities card and the child protection card.

The latest finger-dipping is yet another review into home education, the Elective Home Education Review, which will be the fourth review into home education since 2005. Education, education, education, education: if only reviews were outcomes...

Headed by Graham Badman, the EHER will consider
1) Whether local authorities and other public agencies are able to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities for safeguarding and ensuring a suitable education for all children.
2) Whether home educating parents are receiving the support and advice they want to ensure they provide a good, balanced education for their children.
3) What evidence there is to support claims that home education could be used as a ‘cover’ for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.

Allow me to translate.

1) In 2006, The Education and Inspections Act placed a duty on all local authorities to make arrangements to identify children not receiving "a suitable education". Without knowing what happens in your living room, they can't make that judgement. So inspectors need to be sent into people's homes to gather that information. But we don't know how many children are home educated - between 20,000 (DCSF) and 50,000 (Education Otherwise) - so expect a policy requiring parents to register their home-educated children with the local education authority.

2) Home educating parents often do not want or seek advice from the LEA: it is, after all, the organisation whose schools they are avoiding. Nor are they under any obligation to receive such advice. But as Mr Badman reminded the BBC "Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home but with those rights go responsibilities, not least being to secure a suitable education." Expect the word "suitable" to be defined by Mr Badman and the inspectors to have a strong mandate.

3) The child protection card. If the government can find a single example of neglect or abuse, it gives it the green light to investigateand regulate the lives of all home educators. You can only find a bad apple by checking all your apples. The government hasn't yet given an example of alleged abuse - Education Otherwise asked for the evidence and none was provided - but making the claim means that a claim has been made and must, therefore, be investigated.

Parents have a right to educate their children privately or using the state system. This private education can be in a school or at home. Parents who choose home education are often helping their children to escape the abuse of bullying, or get out from the anti-learning culture of their LEA schools. The government is heaping review after review on these people and branding them as potential abusers.

The government wants to control and regulate the education of every child. How else can it guarantee every child an equal start in life? Parents may play the freedom card, but rights'n'responsibilities and child protection will surely beat it.

22 January, 2009

Rickshaw analysis

It's questions like this one (on the varied behaviour of rickshaw drivers in Mumbai and Delhi) that make me remember why I love the Freakonomics blog :-)

The human side of the second law of thermodynamics

People behave more badly when they are in worse environments.

By worse environments, I don't mean surrounded by bad people or violence or crime.

Litter, disorder (mislaid shopping trolleys) and graffiti all made people behave in less acceptable ways than when the same situation was set up in a tidy/pleasant area.

Well worth a read, here.

(For physics geeks, go here)