I'm still trying to process the bizarre scenes at Bristol Magistrates Court today.
A directions hearing was held for the controversial case of the police officer who Tasered Ras @Justice4Judah but it didn't happen...
bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-n…
#Bristol @CleoDanceBaton @pgmhart
Everyone attended what I imagine the prosecution, defence & judge via video link from Westminster assumes would be a formal yet cordial chat about admission of evidence in the case where a police officer is charged with assault.
It was thought that the defence would seek a ruling restricting the evidence admissible in this case.
But he didn’t. Instead, with press: (me from @BristolLive @stevenmorris20 @clairehayhurst @PollitaMarch) he said he wanted to ask if some evidence could be heard ‘in camera’
More than that, he wanted to make that application to bar the press and public from part of the trial right there, and bar the press and public from that too.
There were around 50 members of the public in court.
The defence barrister is representing the police officer accused of assault. The CPS barrister is representing HM the Queen and, I guess, all of us but in particular the alleged victim in this case, Judah Adunbi, 64, who was walking his dog, stopped by police & ended up Tasered.
The CPS barrister had no representations to make about the application to hear some evidence in camera (behind closed doors) nor whether the application itself should be made in camera.
‘Are you sure you have nothing to say?’ said the Judge.
Thankfully, the press is entitled to make representations if they are getting kicked out of a court case.
So I did, pointing out that it was impossible to challenge any application to bar the press & public from part of the case, if the application itself was also heard in camera
‘I see your point’ said the judge.
But he said there was obvs a submission the defence wanted to make in camera so what he’d do would be hear the defence reasons why the application had to be heard in secret, not the application itself, and decide if it should be made in camera
Still following?
It gets stranger
I said that if he decided to hear the submission in secret, or indeed some of the trial in secret, we would apply for a brief adjournment as we would be certain to challenge either of those rulings.
And then we were all out into the corridor.
We came back.
The judge then announced that, while we were out, the defence had not made any submission on hearing part of the case in camera, or any submission why he might want to, after all.
We didn’t know why this had now happened. Or not happened.
But as we then thought we would turn to the defence submission we thought we were there for - what evidence would be admissible - there was another surprise.
There would be no further submissions today. The hearing we were having would be reconvened at Westminster Magistrates Court (where the judge is based & was speaking from).
That’s 120 miles from Bristol.
It gets better....
And that hearing would take place on the day before the trial is due to start.
We are not, still, 4 weeks away, sure where that trial will take place. It could be Chippenham (30 miles) or Salisbury (52 miles), but probably Salisbury.
And because that hearing on what or who can give evidence is the day before, it means witnesses & victim will not know for definite if they are required to go from Bristol to Salisbury until less than 24hrs - maybe just 12 hrs before they should set off.
I do not know what it is that the defence don’t want in open court. I don’t know what submissions on evidence they are going to make.
But what is clear is that they were not prepared to make them in a court in Bristol in front of the press and public.
There was no explanation as to why, if the hearing today in Bristol was already in progress, the defence could not make its submissions then, since we were all there.
There was no explanation as to why, since today’s hearing took place in Bristol with the judge appearing via video link from Westminster, that same arrangement couldn’t happen again for the reconvened pre-trial hearing.
But no, the deputy senior district judge for all England is based in Westminster and anyone interested in hearing this hearing will now have to go to London and then (probably) Salisbury the next day.
This case, its hearings and listings, have already been moved around more than a rock band on tour. Some hearings were scheduled & never happened, some did happen. I think places include:
Taunton, Salisbury, Southampton, Swindon, Chippenham, Bristol.
Clearly the police officer concerned should have a fair trial - it should be scrupulously fair & be seen to be fair.
Justice must be seen to be done, and all that. For @BristolLive that’s proving to be quite a challenge.
bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-n…

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pls RT far and wide. 1/n
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