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Rounded Corner


I am enjoying the writing style of The Secret Barrister and the accuracy of his/her observations and explanations of the authentic daily work of criminal justice in the book “Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken.  In the chapter about bail and bail review and the client Rio and the charges of multiple rapes of his partner, Lori:

“The absence of the defendant from his own hearing has a strange effect.  On the one hand, it makes your job a little easier when defending.  Unlike in the magistrates’ court where you may be trying to persuade an unimpressed bench of your client’s bailability, punctuated by helpful yelps from the dock (‘Tell ‘em I’ll go on tag.  I’ll do fucking anything!’), no such distractions prevail here.  The judge is forced to imagine how unappealing your client is, rather than have the proof of the pudding shouting racial epithets from the back of the court.  But it also means that the defendant is shielded from the reality of the cursory treatment that his bail application may receive.

As for the recent allegations, they were all lies, I had learned from Rio’s written instructions in Alan’s brief.  He never forced Lori into sex.  He wouldn’t.  He didn’t need to; he got all the action he wanted from all manner of local lovers (Upon meeting Rio, his missing teeth and impressive, two-seat encompassing girth cast this strand of his instructions into dubious relief, but I suppose the heart wants what it wants.) In fact, it was one of these lovers, and specifically, her presence in Rio’s bed when Lori returned home early, that lay behind the outpouring of false allegations from the conniving, scorned complainant, well aware that Rio’s disreputable history would bolster the credibility of her false allegations.

Detention in remand effectively starts the moment you are arrested, when the police turn up unexpectedly one idle Tuesday afternoon while you’re midway through hanging up the washing, or as you arrive home from a double shift.  From that moment, your freedom is the property of the state.  You can be detained at the police station overnight, taken to court from the police cells and then formally remanded until trial.  It could be months, if not years before you are returned to normality.  And every day that passes is another day that your life is continuing without you in it.  Your partner going about their business.  Your job still needing to be done.  Your children hitting their developmental milestones.  Rent accumulating and bills piling up, and the consequences of their neglect – dismissal, eviction, repossession, disconnection – awaiting you upon your release, or, more painfully, exacted upon your loved ones as you watch their suffering helplessly through the prison bars.”

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