UK legal aid proposal: bonuses for lawyers whose clients plead guilty


#1

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#2

Well that makes perfect sense. The fee structure encourages unethical behavior, but there's no danger because lawyers don't behave unethically. Do I have that right?

In America this is called a moral hazard. Do they use the same term over there?


#3

I wasn't certain if the final line of the article was meant to be an actual quote, or just a sort of sarcastic supposition of what might be said. I tried a few search engines, but only got results leading back to this article, so I'm currently assuming it's the latter.

I can't say I much like the notion of flippantly putting words into someone else's mouth in a journalistic setting, whether merely for the sake of sarcasm or not. It's one thing for a journalist to editorialize a bit and include their personal opinions regarding their article's subject matter, but it's another thing entirely to craft false quotations that might readily be misunderstood by any reasonable reader to be actual quotes, despite whatever intention to be "obviously" sarcastic.

Anyway, as for the topic of the article itself, I sadly cannot say I'm surprised by this development. The UK seems to be going insane as of late. I'm personally glad at the moment to not be a citizen or resident of the United Kingdom, but still... is there anything people across the pond might be able to do to combat grossly unjust developments like this? I hate to think these measures will go unchallenged.


#4

is there anything people across the pond might be able to do to combat grossly unjust developments like this?

Stop being poor.

Obviously.


#5

It's curious to me that right after complaining about how little good there is to be had in offering nothing but flippant sarcasm, and then asking quite seriously if there was anything to be done to actually help improve an otherwise terrible situation, the very next response consists only of yet more sarcasm and flippancy in the form of knee-jerk memetic mimicry.


#8

They could save a few bob by getting rid of the Norman Bates' mother costumes they all wear. Perhaps they could then use the extra cash saved from not cross-dressing to get a Constitution.


#9

Sometimes you can only laugh in the dark.

This kind of crap, in varying degrees, has been going on for quite a while in both the US and UK; only recently, however, have our respective oligarchies felt so comfortable about being blatantly obvious about it.


#10

It seems to me that is only a money saving move for the government if jails in the UK are dramatically cheaper to run than those in the US.


#12

But if anyone calls him Francis, he'll kill them.

Chester seemed a wise compromise.


#13

We really mustn't tire in the face of this cascade, this river, this flow of rights-destroying garbage.

Back to basics - the point of appointing counsel is to ensure the defendant receives the best legal representation possible, so that they are assisted in their Styxian journey through the arcane rituals, speech, grammar and odours of the legal swamp.

Innocent until proven guilty is not just another catchphrase - it is one of those thin pillars that protects the entirety of society.

Lobby your MP, or soon find yourself tied to the wrong end of a seesaw and being dunked in a river for 20 minutes to see if you're a duck.


#14

This proposal for England and Wales makes the cuts to legal aid in Scotland from earlier this year look almost sensible in comparison.

It's always interesting to see how devolved government leads to different takes on the same issue, and as always
Carthage must be destroyed keep these differences in mind next year.


#15

The problem is - all of this enhances the power of all political parties. They're a megalomaniac bunch, and undermining the centuries of change for the better is a complete draw for them.


#16

You're clearly well-versed and capable of self-expression. Dissent is great. But you first attack the curators, then make your point. It's a pattern you follow. Maybe time for a change?

Do you work for Reddit?

Seriously - if you've got an issue with the editorial techniques, please open a topic and curate that yourself. Maybe Cory & Co will listen, maybe not. If it's an important issue to more people, maintain the profile and see what happens.

I can tell you though, whether it's accurate reportage or not, the second I read your opening gambit for attention, I know you're complaining / whingeing, or trolling. The pattern, the repetition, lean me to the latter.

BB comments have become trolly of late, and if you've got useful stuff to say, format it and say it, otherwise every single reader will i.d. you as a troll.


#17

The government's premise, that they can save money by inducing guilty pleas, is flawed. The cost of locking up an innocent person is £53,000 per year in operating the prison, together with the lost tax revenue from that person whilst incarcerated, and going forward if they find it hard to work after prison. Lawyers are expensive, but they do an important job in keeping innocent people out of jail. If the government's hypothesis is that lawyers cost too much, the solution is to apply a pay freeze, or below inflation pay rises in the public sector so that the cost of legal representation will fall gradually going forward. The legal system loses legitimacy if the advocate of the Citizen Accused is financially incentivised to plead him guilty.


#18

One could be cynical (and possibly simple minded like myself) and suggest that this is yet another in a large number of recent moves whose sole purpose seems to be to get votes from the Mail/Sun reading middle classes (I'm being unfair, I know). Logic over prison costs, etc. (although I presume that not all the victims of this would go to jail) gets thrown out the window when you can imply that you are clamping down on scroungers (because of course all poor people are lazy scroungers don't you know? italics for the people confused about sarcasm) and the old chestnut of being tough on crime (less people getting off with it). Those tabloid junkies won't think about this policy at the ballot box because it's easier to convince them of the savings on benefits and guilt of criminals (why else would they be guilty?) than the inner workings of a complex legal system (or, for that matter, any of the other fiscal problems that are far worse than the benefits system - b/millionaire tax evasion etc).

Personally, I just see it as yet another in a long line of direct attacks on the poor. Tory scum really do fucking hate the poor. (Signed, opinionated bastard. Swearing utterly necessary)


#19

Don't English courts have rules against representation by someone with a patent conflict of interest? Is there some disciplinary body that can tell lawyers that they are violating ethical duties by representing someone on such terms?

I know it's conventional to imagine that lawyers are devoid of ethical instinct, so people may think it's funny when I say that I, reacting as a lawyer, am ethically horrified by this. The common-law adversarial approach requires that a lawyer have a loyalty to the client that is nearly absolute; in the short version, it's subject only to a duty of candor towards the tribunal and a duty to prevent new crimes. This may not be the ideal system overall, but it's what's in place. Given that, it's beyond unethical to accept money that may induce action against the client's interest.

I can't imagine how something like this could be remotely acceptable.


#20

And yet they so need them.


#21

In the words of some of the lawyers affected by this:

"By law, [council is] already obliged to advise clients about the benefits of an early guilty plea, by way of credit on their sentence … It doesn't take a legal background – or criminal record – to realise that these incentives for a guilty plea and disincentives for a trial are an affront to justice."

"There are some cases in the crown court where a quick guilty plea will earn a lawyer a 75% fee increase"

"The only conclusion to draw from these figures is the sad truth that the new fee structure is ideological and has nothing to do with austerity."


#22

Divide and conquer! No rich / poor divide, no conquer!


#23

Wasn't something like this going on in Texas? I don't think it was official, as in merit pay, but there was too much coziness between the DA's and the PD's office. I can't find any specific links, but it involved racially and economically biased arrests, Project Drug Sweep in Hearne.
I believe the Innocence Project became involved, it may have been a Frontline story where I learned of this. Everyone was pushed to plead guilty.

When people have the convictions on record, I believe that they can't get social services like food stamps after. So it does save government money, in the worst possible way, of screwing poor people doubly. Anyone recall this?