Following a series of recent experiences within the criminal justice system, I am forced to concede that the New Justice movement has achieved its final goal.
The exorcism of defendant safeguards has been so complete that not even the ghosts of prosecution onus and burden remain to haunt our courts. Any concern about a withdrawal from human rights legislation has been rendered groundless.
The rights of a defendant to: be informed promptly and in detail of the case against him; have adequate time and facilities to prepare; examine witnesses against him; and obtain the attendance of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as those against him have, in reality, been disapplied for some time already.
I am left wondering what remains of those principles of fairness which originally attracted me to criminal law. In truth, constantly facing the prevailing disapproval of any attempt to test the prosecution evidence, out of a misguided presumption of innocence and liberty, has exhausted my last reserves of enthusiasm.
The planned reduction of criminal legal aid gives clear expression to how little the role of anyone within the criminal defence community is valued. I have become superfluous to the requirement that all criminal law and procedure is to be interpreted and applied to give as much support as possible to the prosecution securing conviction.
Can I continue to live with myself, just going through the motions of turning up as a political expedient, so that the world does not confuse us with the Communist Soviet Union – where the defendant had no rights, no resources and, notwithstanding, bore the burden to prove his innocence? Or is it time to move on to a career where I can still make some contribution and feel a simple pride in doing so?
Hans Dieter Kehler, DB Law, Camborne, Cornwall