A lot of people are asking for my “view” on the #BenStokes verdict. I didn’t see or hear all the evidence, and unless anybody was in court to observe what the jury observed, they are similarly poorly placed to offer comment.

The jury was not sure of guilt. That’s all we know.
As I understand from reports, he ran a defence of self-defence/defence of another. It is for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt (ie to make a jury *sure*) that a defendant was *not* acting in lawful defence of self/another.
For an explainer on how self-defence operates, see here: thesecretbarrister.com/2018/04/05/bas…
As for questions of “why wasn’t a particular witness called to give evidence?”, we simply don’t know. It’s not uncommon for witnesses, even key witnesses, not to be at trial.
Sometimes they refuse to cooperate, sometimes they cannot be traced after the event. We don’t know.
Important to bear in mind is that a verdict tells us very little. It is not a finding of innocence. It is simply a conclusion that the jury is not sure that the prosecution proved its case and disproved the defence. Proving a criminal case is a high threshold to meet.
I’ve just seen this, courtesy of @kirkkorner. It’s the “route to verdict” given to the #BenStokes jury, setting out all the issues they had to consider. More courts should publish these in high-profile cases; they’re invaluable in helping the public understand the law.

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More from @BarristerSecret

Sep 25, 2018
There has been quite a lot of anger at this story. I understand why - it instinctively feels as if the bar is being set even higher for victims of serious sexual offences to get justice. As if we’re giving up on them.

But if I may offer a counterpoint from my book [1/6]
Something missing from the reporting and commentary is the fact that independent reviews have shown that, in Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) cases, the CPS misapply the evidential test more often than in non-sex cases. (Report here: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmcpsi/inspect…) [2]
This is partly because of (understandable) eagerness to amend for an historically appalling indifference by police and prosecuting authorities towards often vulnerable victims of sexual abuse.

But it’s wrong to assume that prosecuting weak cases is without human cost. [3]
Read 6 tweets
Sep 18, 2018
Wouldn’t have been prosecuted in the US, of course. They have a constitutional right to bear-arms.
The replies to this tweet show Twitter at its most hateful and vengeful. You people need to shut up and appreciate good comedy.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 13, 2018
Protecting the Protectors is a noble and important aim.

Here’s why this new law does not achieve it. [THREAD]
Obviously assaults on emergency workers are unacceptable. That is so obvious as to be trite, but for the avoidance of doubt, that is my starting point. Anything we can do to offer protection to emergency workers should be seriously considered. But this new law is not serious.
It seeks to do two things:

1) Create a new offence of “assault against an emergency worker in the exercise of their functions”.

2) Create a “statutory aggravating factor” for more serious assaults.

Let’s break this down.
Read 15 tweets
Sep 12, 2018
It’s a reasonable question (although the answer would be easily discoverable to a journalist):

Because all defendants sentenced to a standard determinate custodial term are automatically released on licence after serving half of their sentence (s244 Criminal Justice Act 2003).
There are certain offences and situations where, if a judge believes a defendant to be “dangerous” (defined as presenting a significant risk of causing serious harm), a defendant can be detained beyond the halfway point of their sentence. HOWEVER...
...It is worth reading the remarks of Mr Justice Holroyde, who sentenced Choudary. He indicated a clear view that Choudary was dangerous, and would continue to “spread his message”. But the offence of which Choudary was convicted was not one to which the dangerous laws apply.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 3, 2018
These stories are becoming increasingly popular with the media. Criminal steals big wodge of money, soft judge only makes them pay a fraction of it back.

A brief thread is in order. [THREAD]
When someone financially benefits from a crime, the Crown Court has the power to make what is called a “confiscation order”. It has two parts: (1) The “benefit” - ie what has the person had. (2) The “available amount” - what assets does the person currently have.
The court makes a confiscation order in the lower of those two figures. A person will only be ordered to pay what they can actually afford, as failure to pay can mean the person is imprisoned, and it’s not very fair to imprison people for not paying what they haven’t got. BUT.
Read 7 tweets
Aug 30, 2018
Gather round, folks! It’s time for another round of What Is Andrew Pierce Wrong About This Time?

[SPOILER: Everything]
“No other sanction”. Well that’s a lie right off the bat. The news report is here. And we can see that the court imposed a community order, a restraining order and costs. There would also be “requirements” to the community order, such as unpaid work or a rehabilitation programme.
It’s important to note that there are few facts given. The charges aren’t even specified (“assault” is not an offence), and no information is given about the reasons given by the court for passing that sentence.
Read 7 tweets

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