If you have recently experienced a delay in a criminal court please take a moment to leave a short reply below which explains:
(1) How long the delay was;
(2) When and in which court it happened;
(3) What caused the delay;
(4) The case name, if disclosable (please respect any reporting restrictions which may be in place).
It’s up to you what information you post about yourself of course, but be aware that anonymous replies will carry less weight than replies from identifiable and credible sources.
If you would prefer not to have your reply (or part of your reply) posted here but you still want to inform us of a delay (or matters relating to a delay) which you have experienced, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will treat it in confidence.
Please do try to ensure the accuracy of any information provided as the purpose of this exercise will be frustrated if the Ministry of Justice is presented with unreliable data.
The South Eastern Circuit
Taunton Crown Court, 18 June 2013, R v Hardwick. Rape trial, young complainant, late provision of edited DVDs of her evidence. Unintelligible/inaudible over the court’s playback facilities due to poor original sound quality at police ‘recovery suite’. Transcripts had not been edited to enable them to be copied for the jury to follow. 2 hour delay while CPS undertook this task at an office distant from the court. Consequence – complainant had to return on a second day for cross-examination.
Carmarthen Crown Court last friday, I had two cases which were committals for sentence of summary only offences committed to the crown court under s.70 POCA. The Learned Judge refused to proceed to sentence because he disagreed with the level of charge and felt the CPS should have proceeded with a more serious charges. He has adjourned both cases having recused himself from the cases. he has also listed separate mentions for the CPS to come to court to explain themselves. Having had a wasted day on friday I now have to attend crown court on two more occasions for no more money (working on committal for sentence fixed fees).
Leicester CC, trial fixed November 2012, three complainant historic sexual offences including rape. Edited discs not available until morning of trial, court equipment would play (randomly) 2 of the 7 discs. Court office would not allow OIC and CPS caseworker to test discs on their DVD player, would only do so under the ‘supervision’ of court clerk. Discs all worked on court equipment which then had to be transferred to our court. Total delay probably 3 hours
R v Du, Northampton Crown Court 10 May at 2pm: allegation of quadruple murder. PCMH listed at Nottingham Crown Court before Mr Justice Flaux. We requested a later date as PCMH could not be effective and instructed counsel not available. The date remained. Counsel (briefed only for that hearing) and solicitor travelled from London to Nottingham early to meet client (who speaks no english) in cells. Interpreter required but none arrive. Client produced from HMP Woodhill (Milton Keynes). The interpreting service had wrongly booked interpreter to go to Northampton. The interpreter told them the day before it was Nottingham.Interpreting service- Capita?- refused to pay her public transport fees to Nottingham so she could not attend.Case called on at 2pm, no interpeter so hearing vacated and adjourned 6 weeks.
It could never have been an effective hearing and we made that clear to the court, but the barrister and solicitors had to travel to court for no pay (no fee for counsel, fixed fee LGF for solicitors) for a non effective hearing when no communication could even be had with client and court costs of that hearing, costs of transporting client, costs of additional security far outweighed the public transport costs of interpreter.
City of Westminster Magistrates Court extradition Azerbaijan v N- various. DJ refuses to hear bail aplication as court fail to produce client. Counsel and surety from Cumbria had attended- surety had to arrange care for sick wife. On same matter for bail application and mention, court again fail to produce client- despite specific requests to do so. On this occasion DJ hears from the security and witness who attended from Cumbria (and made arangement for care of sick wife). No consistency. Private case, but enormous costs to client and court for non effective previous hearing (and immense frustration.). No fault of solicitors or client, but enormous costs incurred
R v W and ors (private). Inner London Crown Court. GBH trial, listed specifically early as Judge deemed that too much time had already passed since initial arrest (due to 6 month bail period) ultinmately was not effective as prosecution failed to instruct expert promptly and served report too late which Co Defendant wanted their expert to comment on and Judge had judicial “duties” which meant he could not complete the trial. Our attempts to vacate the week before not successful so both counsel returend from family holidays abroad for a trial which the Judge knew could never happen. Enormous wasted costs to court, counsel and defendant due to no fault of theirs which could never be recovered.
Courtdelays was e-mailed and told of this odd listing at Staines MC:
Staines Magistrates Court- 21 May 2013
Represented 6 clients as duty solicitor.
All cases ready by 11am and by no means the last solicitor to notify the list caller that I was ready.
Court decided to leave all duty cases until the end of the day (nothing called on until 4pm) even though I made it clear that 4 of the cases were likely to need a fast delivery report. Probation available to do these reports but had been told that they could not do them unless specifically ordered by the Court. Probation left twiddling their thumbs all day. 4 clients forced to return on another day for FDR and sentencing (two of whom were in eligible for LA and had to self rep).
This was not an intelligent use of time. Discretion in this court appears to be exercised in a very strange way at this court.
Courtdelays was e-mailed and told about this case at Snaresbrook Crown Court:
(1) PCMH hearing entirely wasted and adjourned for 3 weeks, 5 counsel in attendance.
(2) Snaresbrook, Court 11, 23rd April 2013
(3) 5 handed indictment, human trafficking. Defendants were supposed to appear via videolink. a) No interpreters attended b) One defendant was female and at Holloway, the court had not spotted this and so no videolink to Holloway was booked c) The court did not have an indictment, nor any papers d) the defence had not been served with a full set of papers, including ABE transcripts outstanding e) the CPS wished to review the case to see if further charges should be added. The PCMH could not proceed and the cost of the entire hearing was therefore wasted.
(4) R v X and Ors – case ongoing
Courtdelays was e-mailed this account of a trial by a Recorder:
I have just completed a trial in which I was sitting as a Recorder trying the case. The case was listed for 3 days but lasted into a sixth day. This was not counsels’ fault. On the first day of the trial the officer in the case failed to attend with all of the original exhibits and the case file, thus delaying the start of the case by about 1.5 hours. On the second day the jury raised for the first time an association with one of the witnesses and then the fact that they had observed two witnesses discussing the case over lunch. Enquiries were necessary into these matters causing further significant delay. On the third day, when the officer above was due to be giving evidence she did not turn up until 11.30am thus wasting a quarter of the court day. She had been working since 7am including using her car to measure distances in the case which was a dangerous driving case. This should have been done before but had not been. Although fairly close to court she didn’t drive on to court when she had finished in good time to arrive at court because she had been told by her superiors that she had to come by public transport as it was free and the police wouldn’t reimburse her £25 petrol money (estimated cost). The net result was a cost to the taxpayer of approximately £2000 (estimated cost of wasted court time to the system) to save £25. None of these matters were contributed to in any way by counsel so why should they be paid less as a result of the failings of others? Cuts to the budget of the CPS also meant that there was only one set of photographs of the locus, at least an extra 2 hours was spent on the case as the one set of photographs was passed around the jury laboriously. Again this was not counsels’ fault and beyond their control. When counsel was paid properly they might have paid for a copy of the photos from their own pocket out of a sense of goodwill but why should they do this now given that they are paid so little and it is proposed that they will be paid still less? I raised the issue of the third day late attendance with first an inspector (who was somewhat truculent) and then with the Borough Commander. He entirely saw the point and said he would try to ensure a system in place for the future but it was effectively £25 saved from his budget whereas the £2k was being paid for elsewhere
Woolwich Crown Court. R v A & Ors. Fixture of 2 weeks delayed for a week, with young defendants in custody, as no judge or court available to hear trial. We were told this at 1.55pm having been listed at 10.30am. 5 counsel involved, some now have to return trial as runs into other commitments. Young defendants loose out on counsel they know and trust because there is, yet again, ‘no court time’.
06 June 2013, R v Fitzpatrick, Blackfriars CC. Def picked up on a warrant, I was notified through solicitors before 9.00am. Headed to Blackfriars. Lunchtime came & went, def not been produced. Court not able to tell me anything. I contacted police station who tell me def is being taken to Highbury Corner MC – no explanation why. Speak to list office who confirm this & tell me to go to the mags court. I do so. Predictably, mags court don’t accept him as he’s produced on a CC warrant; def (and me) finally arrives at Blackfriars CC at approx 3.30pm. Brought up to court shortly after 4.30pm once Judge has finished a trial. My fee for the day – zero.
http://wp.me/p3vDId-29 is a blog about the delays encountered in my trial recently. Manchester Crown Court. R v Randles.
1. Four and a half hours
2. Bromley Magistrates court 25th June
3. Serco. Defendant was not produced from croydon police station to court until 13:30 for a 9.30 hearing. Not allowed into cells until 2pm to take instructions.
4. R v Rowe
5 examples from R v Anderson, Bobrovas, Zveiba, Novikova, Novikovas. Southampton Crown Court (Court 6). Fraud trial.
(1) 3 days.
(2) 8, 9 and 10 May 2013 (Day 2, 3 and 4).
(3) CPS jury bundles (4 x lever arch files) had not been copied or brought to court.
(4) As above.
(1) 1 day.
(2) 28 May 2013.
(3) Leading counsel for the CPS was ill. His junior could not take over (to lead the officer through telephone schedules) because she was only briefed 1 week before trial and did not have sufficient knowledge of the case.
(4) As above.
(1) 1 day.
(2) June 2013.
(3) Juror ill.
(4) As above.
(1) 2 hours.
(2) June 2013.
(3) (Same) Juror overslept.
(4) As above.
(1) 1 day
(2) June 2013.
(3) Defendant ill.
(4) As above.
R v Facuna southwark crown court
2 aborted pcmhs due to no interpreter
Credit for delayed guilty plea may be an issue
Postsript to R V Pham above
After 2 adjourned hearings above . Client was put over to today to see court psychiatirc team. They had not been told about him because resulting office had not bothered processing , nor had they (again) bothered to book Vietnamese interpreter. Mental health team agreed to see him but because they hadn’t previously booked him in, they could not wait for interpreter to arrive as they had apts elsewhere. Local interpeter could have turned up quicker but ALS interp not untill 2pm.
Manchester Crown Court -April 9th 2013. R v Dishous. I represented the dedendant. The defendant was Somalian. The Somalian interpreter attended the first day of trial on the 8th April,was sworn in and advised to attend court the following day by the trial judge.He failed to attend court the next day,the 9th April 2013. I understand that he accepted a translation job at the Criminal Court of Appeal the next day, l shortly after being advised to attend the Manchester Crown Court on the 9th April by the trial judge.!
The interpreter subsequently advised (falsely) he had been told by counsel/ advocate that he was not obliged to attend court the next day the 9th April 2013. An entire day was wasted as no interpretator was available .The trial was adjouned until, the 10th of April.The original interpreter was replaced with another interpreter . Ironically both interpreters came from the south of england, notwithstanding that prior to Capita,the court would have normally used a a locally based interpretator from the Somalian community in Manchester,saving travel and hotel expenses. An entire court day was wasted.
Patrick Harris.Solicitor/Advocate.Clifford Johnston &Co- Solicitors.Manchester
Old Bailey. I was due to start a trial on Monday 3rd June. A few days beforehand the court informed us that the preceding trial had overrun so we were put back to Weds 5th June. Late on Monday 3rd, the list office called to inform us that the trial was now going to start on Tuesday 4th. Silks on both sides – turned up on Tuesday only to be informed that the list office had not informed the jury bailiff so we did not have a jury panel. On Weds 5th we swore a jury, opened the case, called 4 witnesses but witness 5 went awol at lunchtime so we could not sit beyond 2.45pm
On Thurs 6th June a juror was sick. On Friday 7th June the juror was still sick. On Monday 10th June all 12 jurors were present, the rest of the case was presented, I called my client and had made my speech by 4pm on Weds 12th June
Basildon Crown Court. R v Sobodu. Listed for sentence at 10am. Defendant in custody but not produced until midday. Sentence dealt with at 12:45 pm. Delay: 2 hrs 45 mins.
Basildon crown court R v Zelenas 23/06/12. Listed for committal for sentence. Interpreter requested by court but none had been provided by capita. Defendant unrepresented. Sentence could no proceed without interpreter. Case had to be adjourned for 4 days to obtain an interpreter.
We were tweeted about a month ago by a member of the Bar who attended a sentence hearing (unpaid of course) listed 10.30 on a Thursday. Judge had ongoing trial and said, “come back at 12” List Office then says, NB 2. They come back at 2, and judge says “come back tomorrow.”
Tomorrow was the first day of his family holiday. Such was hi commitment to his client, he cancelled the holiday.
So he lost his holiday, lost the cost of it, and was paid Nothing for two days!
Wolverhampton Crown Court. Listed for PCMH on 29th May on eight handed case. Nine advocates present, some from London. No interpreters attend despite court confirming they were booked. PCMH relisted for 13th June.
Courtdelays was e-mailed and told about a rape trial at a London Crown Court. ape trial. Unable to sit afternoon of Day 1 – no Polish interpreter. Unable to sit first hour of Day 2 – other business in court. Unable to sit last hour of Day 3 – other business in court Day 6 – Marked NB 11 but did not sit until closer to 11.30 – no idea why.