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Are judges out of touch with public opinion?

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posted on Mar, 9 2007 @ 03:57 AM
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Has anyone seen this news.bbc.co.uk... ?

Apparently the Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips has said that murderers are spending 'too long' in jail! He also wants judges to be able to reduce the mandatory sentence, which for murder is 15 years.

Does he live in the real world? Most people I know think that when a 'life' sentence is passed then it should mean for life, not just 15 years!

Of course the poor murderers have the human rights act on their side, and it's not their fault anyway because they didn't have a daddy.

It's just the latest thing in a long line of things that judges have said regarding sentencing, but I'm too lazy to look them all up!

It's no wonder criminality is rife in this country. I've known people that 'got away' with petty crimes as teenagers so they moved on to more serious stuff. At least one of them as told me that if they'd been properly punished for the first crime then they probably wouldn't have gone on to do worse stuff.

Anyone have any opinions on this? (ducks and covers . with hands).

[edit on 9/3/07 by jimboman]




posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 07:24 AM
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I think many judges are dangerously out of touch with public opinion and out of touch with reality to be quite honest, though to be fair some are hampered by sentencing guidelines as to what they're actually allowed to dish out.

Judges should come from the communities they serve, not inflict misery on other peoples with flawed political ideals then bugger off home to their safe neighbourhood and not live with the consequences. Some are just one step up from the criminals with the way they've contributed to the social errosion of our communities.



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 12:49 PM
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Whilst some of the sentences passed (or lack of them, in some cases) are very concerning, I remind you that judges aren't supposed to take into account 'public opinion' - that's a politician's job. A judge is supposed to pass sentence using their best judgement (hence the job title
) based on the evidence they've seen in court and the decision of the jury.

The last thing we want is Big Brother-style phone lines where you ring up and vote for the sentence a criminal is given... let's face it, the right to a fair trial would be out of the window if everyone were involved. Some people simply wouldn't have a clue, and we must also keep in mind that the media likes to sell their newspapers by biased reporting. Read a story in the Daily Mail, then read the same story in the Guardian - I suspect you'll find two very different views. Which one is right? Why is that one right? Why is the other one wrong?

Can't really answer those questions in a way that's satisfactory to everyone, can you?



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 02:39 PM
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I met a crown court judge at a social event locally several years ago and realised then just how poor the calibre of judges was. This judge lived in a large house with staff, had been to public school and in talking with this judge, had little comprehension of real life. This judge could not discuss with me or the group anything on normal everyday life.

This judge has let a rapist off with a suspended sentence and fallen asleep during a case (claimed he was just thinking with his eyes closed), meaning a re-trail and thousands of pounds wasted.

So guess what. Judges are out of touch with the public, the people who that are meant to protect and who pay their salaries.

Here's a question. Is there a county court or high court judge who has not been to public school or university?



posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 03:00 PM
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I would like to chime in on this one.
I know that I do not live in the UK, but do have an idea on what may be going on in the criminal court system. As I live in the US, I can only give perspective from that point of view. One of the main problems that the US is having, is not that the judges here do not want to pass a tougher sentence, the problem is that the prisons and jails are over crowded and there is no real room to place all of the criminals. Combined with the fact that the public has to ultimately pay to keep those criminals in there, feed and up keep of the facilities and to pay for the guards, it is quiet expensive. And unfortunately they do have to make choices, be it that they let a criminal out early or a reduced sentence.

Just my thoughts.



posted on Mar, 12 2007 @ 06:20 AM
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Originally posted by Ste2652
Whilst some of the sentences passed (or lack of them, in some cases) are very concerning, I remind you that judges aren't supposed to take into account 'public opinion' - that's a politician's job. A judge is supposed to pass sentence using their best judgement (hence the job title
) based on the evidence they've seen in court and the decision of the jury.


But there’s a very grey area here, are they completely unaccountable to public opinion, these opinions can sometimes be the cornerstones of what we think of as how civilised societies function. If a violent thug has been treated leniently because the judge subscribes to a liberal view that he deserves a second, third even fourth chance whereas the public opinion, especially amongst the community he comes from, is that he is a danger to them who has never been made accountable for his actions and thus continues to offend against them should that public opinion simply be dismissed. IMO there is a dangerous trend in the judicial and political systems where a so called educated elite believe it’s their right to decide what’s best for all of us, with little or no consultation amongst those who will feel it’s impact most. Add to that the often forgotten aspect of justice which is to send out the message to society that it is valued enough to be protected from those who would disrupt it and I would say that public opinion, while not the be all and end all, is certainly relevant.


The last thing we want is Big Brother-style phone lines where you ring up and vote for the sentence a criminal is given... let's face it, the right to a fair trial would be out of the window if everyone were involved. Some people simply wouldn't have a clue, and we must also keep in mind that the media likes to sell their newspapers by biased reporting. Read a story in the Daily Mail, then read the same story in the Guardian - I suspect you'll find two very different views. Which one is right? Why is that one right? Why is the other one wrong?


Agreed we can’t have a system based on populist trends, then again should we have one that is dominated by people who’s life experiences simply doesn’t mirror the communities they’re supposed to be serving, especially when common sense often takes second place to social and political ideologies. And why don’t we tend to see this altruistic liberal streak emerge as often when it comes to crimes against financial institutions, if everyone deserves a second chance then everyone deserves it.



posted on Mar, 12 2007 @ 06:34 AM
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Apparently the Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips has said that murderers are spending 'too long' in jail! He also wants judges to be able to reduce the mandatory sentence, which for murder is 15 years.


Life should mean life, for murder not for a judge to turn round and say oh wait lets reduce the time they have been given, n anyways it is parliament who passes law, not Judges, I cannot see M.P.'s agreeing to reduce the mandatory sentences for murder.

Maybe for lesser offenses such as theft or robbery, or for not paying your council tax, getting caught with cannibis etc, but not for murder.



Does he live in the real world? Most people I know think that when a 'life' sentence is passed then it should mean for life, not just 15 years!


Exactly when someone is given life in prisonment, they shouldnt get the chance of parroyl or the minimum of 15 years. Life should be life period.



Of course the poor murderers have the human rights act on their side, and it's not their fault anyway because they didn't have a daddy.


And what has "they didn't have a daddy" got to do with anything? I find that rather amusing to say the least, are you saying most of the murderes who are put in jail dont have fathers??



The Law in the UK is a joke, judges are a joke and so are the M.P.'s who make up these laws....



posted on Mar, 12 2007 @ 09:20 AM
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Well said spencerjohnstone.

Here's an idea to restore faith in judges. How about a lay person sits with every judge and they have to agree the sentence. You would get the legal experience from the judge and some common sense from the lay person.

I would be more than happy to sit as a lay person.

And I believe judges should be accountability for the sentence they give. I am delighted to see that CPS can challenge a sentence if they feel it is too light.

Credit where credit is due. A good idea from the Labour Government



posted on Mar, 12 2007 @ 02:08 PM
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Yes, it probably would help a great deal for judges to go and talk to some victims of crime to see how it has changed their lives - undue influence? No. Putting their job in context? Yes.

But again, the populist approach to justice is a dangerous one hence why the 'public opinion' element has to be moderated. By all means get the public involved in the judicial process (judges should have to defend their sentences if necessary just as a politician has to defend their policies before Parliament), but I for one wouldn't like to be judged by someone who's been hyped up by the press... knowing my luck, they'd probably bring back hanging especially for me


And spencerjohnstone, you're right - there's no way MPs would vote to reduce sentences when the public are so concerned about crime (especially Labour and Conservative MPs, which makes up the vast majority of the House).

[edit on 12/3/07 by Ste2652]



posted on Mar, 12 2007 @ 05:50 PM
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Here’s Some Proof…
Last year two yobs left a policeman with a life long coma after he refused to light their spliff. Turner (17) was jailed for 8 years and 18 old Samuels for 9 years. But their sentences have now been reduced by a judge by two years for being excessive.

You can see the policeman here: www.dailymail.co.uk... He looks completely retarded; if he was an animal he would almost certainly be put down; but because he’s a human being he’s going to have to “enjoy” a lifetime of diminished brain capacity, humiliation and suffering.

Meanwhile I'm sure the yobs have learnt plenty of new crime skills in our over filled cells, as because they’re so over filled I doubt they’ve been reformed.
Is it really a great day for justice when people like these released even earlier onto our streets?

Labour you are responsible…
Dear Labour I know you have only been running our country with historic majorities for nearly ten years, but during your rule the public has suffered plenty of these kinds of cases, like the 3 months a man was given for raping a baby, or the paedophile who walked free on a court technicality.
Of course parliamentary time is hard to come by; but I hope within the next ten years you will be able to improve the democratic representation of sentencing guidelines. Otherwise people like me are going to vote Tory, and if they don’t do any better, then (and only then) would we consider voting for you again.
Who was it who said “prison works”? Labour (don’t think so).

Big Questions for Everyone…
In a court room surely the criminal should be at the mercy of the needs of the public?
Surely this is only right as when the crime is being committed it is the public who are at the mercy of the criminal?
Should judges be sacked if they can be convicted of poor-negligent judgment?
Should sentences for more serious crimes be recommended by a judge, but approved only by a jury?
What would the public rather: A first class healthcare system for treating the victims of the streets, but violent streets, and massive fear of crime; or would they rather an adequate healthcare system but a first class prisons system? (The NHS is over 4 times more expensive than the prison system).

The prison system costs approximately £3 billion a year (£37,500 times 80,000).
Source: www.prisonworks.org...
the average cost of a prison place for 12 months was £37,500



Meanwhile the 2003/2004 NHS budget is £68.7 billion
www.adamsmith.org...
It now stands at 75 billion
www.telegraph.co.uk.../news/2007/02/21/ndrugs121.xml



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 08:07 AM
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These kind of cases do make you wonder just when someone is going to think 'enough' and go out looking for the scrotes with a loaded gun. And public opinion being what it is at the moment I don't think too many members of the public would be willing to help the police in their investigation.

Perhaps this is a lesson in how discounting public opinion completely merely radicalises it in the end.



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 08:33 AM
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Originally posted by spencerjohnstone
And what has "they didn't have a daddy" got to do with anything?


I think you caught my sarcasm there, because a lot of the lawyers come out with the defence that 'this criminal was from a single-parent family with no father-figure'. That's BS. I know a lot of so called 'single-parent families' where the couple only say they're apart to get extra dole money. Anyway, not all children from single-parent families become criminals.

Back on topic though. I wonder how many of these judges would be so lenient if the murderer or whatever lived next-door to them?



posted on Mar, 13 2007 @ 04:00 PM
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Brings me back to my comment before about the Justice system being a big J O K E!!!!




But their sentences have now been reduced by a judge by two years for being excessive.


The judge who reduced the sentences for those guys who put that police officer in a coma should have had his hands slapped. Or removed from his position as a judge......




Labour you are responsible…


Agrees with you on this part, the present Gov has pushed through too mutch legislation without any backbone in it, basically knee jerking to please the British Public. This ASBOS or what ever it is called is a total waste of taxpayers money, most of the youths now a days see asbos as a trophy and not some form of punishment.



posted on Mar, 15 2007 @ 01:11 AM
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Originally posted by: Ubermunche

These kind of cases do make you wonder just when someone is going to think 'enough' and go out looking for the scrotes with a loaded gun.

Well if it was just one of them that would obviously be a bad idea.

But if it was a group of people “hunting criminals” then that would be a good idea, as you would have thought there might be a better chance of them getting away with it!


Perhaps this is a lesson in how discounting public opinion completely merely radicalises it in the end.


Too right; people are desperate!! Our safety is under threat, says it all really.
And there’s nothing worse than seeing drunk Chav’s on the street, and if you do you certainly “dun wan er look smart ore push ore they could “ask” yu four cash.” (Big mistake; just say no).

Originally posted by: jimboman

I wonder how many of these judges would be so lenient if the murderer or whatever lived next-door to them?

That’s the good news about crime spreading.


All I want is to be able to (at night) use the bus stop, cross the town square, or places like that without knowing that if I hang around too long I’ll be probably be attacked, insulted or robbed.
Crime is getting worse in this country; I think the main reason why the government crime statistics haven’t picked up on it is because it has fallen in areas like Manchester which were economically devastated under Thatcher (not that the South didn’t do well though). Basically given the improvements in the north crime should have fallen heaps under Labour, it just hasn’t. Whatever the case the Yob Mob culture certainly seems to be spreading near where I (and most other people) live.

The Future
Soon we really will need a non-racist organisation like the Ku Klux Clan just to target the criminal under class, perhaps even create exclusion zones-camps that people have to live in once they’ve served typically half their time in prison.
One Spin I really hate is calling life sentences “life”. It’s just not, it’s about 15-20 years Divide Half with parole and remission. 7 or 10 years, some life!!!

Thanks spencerjohnstone for the support. Trouble is people used to accuse Blair of being “all Tory”; how long will it be till we call CamCon “all N. Labour”?

[edit on 090705 by Liberal1984]



posted on Mar, 18 2007 @ 11:23 AM
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Firstly let me say I don't think vigilanteism is the right way to go about restoring law and order on our streets but from what I've actually seen occuring and the almost shoulder shrugging response the various forces of law and order respond with, it stops looking like an act of vengeance more a prudent move towards self survival for the communities in question. You have these various gangs and mobs swaggering around on the streets of the UK with the quite understandable belief that they are virtually untouchable and carrying out what amount to atrocities on the public. We should not be living in a society where waiting for a bus or taking the short walk home from the pub carries with it a risk of serious assault, injury or death. If the powers that be insist on allowing this frontier township mentality to flourish they have no one but themselves to blame.
If that mans family did go looking for them, found them and I saw what they did to them I wouldn't be going to the police as a witness, no matter how severe the retribution was.



posted on Mar, 30 2007 @ 04:43 PM
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Maybe not all judges are out of touch.

www.horseandhound.co.uk...

Seems this judge believes we have responsibility for our actions and can not blame someone else



posted on Apr, 1 2007 @ 12:31 PM
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I don't know how the judicial system works in the UK but in the US, judges are not ALLOWED to go by public opinion. They're supposed to go by the law. Whatever the law says is allowable for sentencing in cases is what's used. I've heard judges give their personal opinion in cases, saying, "I'd like to throw the book at you and see you spend the rest of your life behind bars but the law only allows me to sentence you to x number of years."
Murder, statistically, has the lowest recidivism rate of all crimes; most being committed in a fit of passion. Doesn't excuse the behavior or reduce the need for punishment but, generally speaking, most convicted murderers are not a threat to society as a whole. (obviously they were a threat to the one they murdered).
Pedophiles have the lowest rate of rehabilitation of all criminals and most will even tell you they have no intention of changing their behavior and "couldn't" even IF they wanted to. In the US, pedophiles, statistically, have molested 67 children before they get thrown in prison (if they ever get caught).
Robbery and drug use have a high rate of recidivism. Those 3 (pedophilia, robbery and addiction) do have a high impact on society at large. The robbery and addiction tend to go together.
Not just judges, but anyone in a position of authority and/or wealth tends to be out of touch with the everyday world. Wealth insulates from the baser elements of life-hunger, cold, deprivation, ill health, crime, etc. The wealthy/influential just don't have the same life experiences as the rest of us and really have no idea what we're complaining about. Kind of like: If the peasants can't get bread, let them eat cake. It's cheaper and easy to come by right now." If judges keep making asinine decisions they'll probably get the same response as the queen who made that remark.



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