Thursday, 30 April 2009

Adjudicating in 140 characters or less

Magistrate Twitter From the Solicitors’ Journal 27/04/09:

A magistrate accused by a colleague of inappropriate “tweeting” – posting texts on networking website Twitter – has resigned.

Professor Steve Molyneaux, aged 54, posted updates from Telford magistrates court under the user name “ProfOntheProwl”.

According to the Mail on Sunday one of the posts read: “Just about to hear application from three robbers from Manchester as to whether to remand or not.”

Another read: “Called into court today to deal with those arrested last night and held in custody. I guess they will be mostly drunks but you never know.”

Mr Molyneaux, who had been a magistrate for 16 years, said everything he reported on Twitter had been said in open court, and denied posting while a hearing was in session.

He told the BBC that the judicial system needed to embrace technology to improve transparency and let the people see that justice had been done.

He announced his resignation on Twitter.

I’m all for the judicial system embracing technology and improving transparency but I’m not sure this is the right way to go about it. After all, I’m not sure that having a magistrate tweeting: “I guess they will be mostly drunks...” etc. is particularly conducive to letting citizens know justice will be done.

Magistrates have a tough time conveying a reputation of robust and unbiased cogs in the judicial machine as it is without one of their more tech-savvy members tweeting his every thought on a case. Whether Professor Molyneaux was tweeting ‘in session’ or not isn’t really the point: it was still inappropriate. Given the reciprocal nature of tweets, it’s interesting to wonder just how his followers’ responses shaped his thinking. Either way, the simple fact remains that a key figure – and I use that term loosely – in our judicial system to be tweeting doesn’t really convey the right message: that the magistrate is open-minded, unbiased and will adjudicate solely based on the evidence put before him.

Still, maybe the idea has potential for a 21st century judicial system. While a magistrate should not be seen to tweet, perhaps it would be acceptable for a court clerk to - as an extension of his administrative duties? Maybe, in jury trials the idea could be expanded even further and a Facebook group set up for the jury to engage in. Let’s not leave the public out though: maybe a live video-stream of the proceedings, a YouTube video of the ‘trial’s highlights’ and associated chat room for the public to put their own thoughts to the judge in real time. Such changes would no doubt be referred to as the ‘Justice 2.0’ wave, or would ‘social adjudicating’ be more fitting?  No?

But seriously, all things considered, I think the justice system is arguably better off without the Prof’s tech-savvy contributions. And as for tweeting confirmation of his resignation? Well, nice touch, Professor Molyneaux.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The sign of a hard-working law student

Checked my LLM folder on my computer today, you know, just for the hell of it.

My LLM folder

Was surprised to see it had reached the mammoth size of 283MB and had 862 files with 66 folders. Wow. And I’ve still revision work and the full fury of my dissertation to be thrown at it yet.

The fact the folder houses 862 files doesn’t really surprise me. The size is certainly an eye-opener and is due in large part to all of the journal articles I’ve used for assignments that I’ve downloaded in PDF format. The downside of open standards I guess!

While on this topic, I thought I might share my back-up and syncing strategy with the blawgosphere. Law students, in my experience, tend to be lousy at backing-up, but with the wide range of free automated backup and syncing tools available today, there really isn’t an excuse any longer.

My precious LLM folder is backed up (and synced) to a USB key using Microsoft Synctoy 2.0. Creating a folder pairing between the folder on my PC and the USB key means that syncing is just a one-button-click job – just as it should be. You could even automate the process via Task Scheduler in Windows. My LLM folder is also backed up (and synced again) to the cloud and a laptop using the fantastic Microsoft Live Mesh, though I guess MS haters out there can make use of services like Dropbox instead which works well across Windows, Mac and Linux. Technically, Live Mesh is still in Beta but I’ve been using it for virtually a whole year and have had no problems with it. Overall, I’ve found this happy back-up and syncing arrangement to serve my needs well for the past year or so.

I also perform random backups to external hard disks and the web. I’ve been a user of BT digital vault (their free service, that is) for a couple of years or so and find it adequate. I’ve used a variety of web-based back up services over the past few years (a few which have since disappeared from cyberspace) but with Live Mesh and BT’s digital vault, plus my variety of on-site backups, I think I’m reasonably well prepared. Still, there’s room for improvement, I guess: I might add a Networked Attached Storage (NAS) solution or a Home Server to my computing arsenal. After all, it’s the type of thing you can’t have too much of - when it comes to backups, more really is more.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Avoiding Allegations of Discrimination: What NOT to say

From BBC News 14/04/09:

A cabin crew boss was forced to employ only young, slim, single women to crew private aircraft, a tribunal has heard.

Alexandria Proud, from London, has claimed unfair constructive dismissal by charter aircraft firm Gama Aviation.

Miss Proud said she was verbally abused by aircraft owner Alireza Ittehedeh and not supported by her employer.

Gama Aviation supplies pilots and flight attendants for about 30 privately-owned aircraft.

Miss Proud said she was forced to discriminate when recruiting cabin staff on grounds of sex, marital status and age, and criticised for not getting enough suitable candidates.

"The successful candidate would be female, physically attractive, aged 18 to 30, single and no larger than a size 12," said Miss Proud.

"I was also specifically informed that if there was a male flight attendant it would be thought that he was gay and the owner would not tolerate such an individual on the aircraft."

Miss Proud issued a formal grievance against the firm's director of operations Steve Wright after he behaved "inappropriately" and was aggressive, the Southampton tribunal heard.

I know throw-away comments are uttered on the spur of the moment with little regard paid to tact (and legislative provisions relating to discrimination by employers) but if there was ever a classic example of something a boss should absolutely not, ever say to his recruiter, this is surely it. But besides from the potential for falling foul of employment discrimination legislation, I don’t know how much business-sense it would make to hire candidates who were very similar in age, sex, weight and appearance etc. Given the diversity of people who own private aircraft, it seems unlikely that they would all have identical desires as to the cabin crew they would want to serve them in the skies. I’m also curious as to how Mr Ittehedeh would react to discovering that certain members of his exclusively female cabin crew (who ostensibly conformed to his exacting standards) were actually gay. Would he find that equally egregious?

Granted, the allegations are as yet unproven but I’ll be watching this one with interest. The tribunal continues.Airhostess

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Office Jargon and Cliché Heaven

offensive office jargon

Courtesy of The Mail 16/06/08::

Some of these office-based clichés are worse than others. Often times, it’s not the jargon that people object to but rather the people uttering it. I’m sure we can all relate to a moronic middle manager chirping out the office clichés like they’re going out of fashion. Jargon is fine when used in context (which includes it being readily understood by the audience) and is a more efficient means of expressing an idea. More often than not, gripes about office jargon stem from users muttering these phrases to obfuscate real meaning – usually because they haven’t got an answer, don’t understand the situation fully themselves or because saying such phrases play to their ego.

It doesn’t change things though: a moron is moron whether he engages in blue-sky thinking or not.

Some of my favourites:

“Going forward” – What?!? What’s wrong with that? It’s clear, easily understood and unambiguous. I recall using it in a recent paper as an alternative to ‘in the future’. Seriously, move along – nothing to see here.

“idea showers” – apparently these are the new ‘brain-storms’ or ‘think-tanks’ blahdy blahdy blah. Some people claim to have their best ideas in the shower. When used in the office, though, this surely can’t be meant so literally. I tend not to engage in idea showers – I just beat them around with a wet towel. Next?

“let's touch base about that offline”. Wow. What a howler. I don’t know what it means and I very much doubt anybody using the phrase would either. Kill it. Kill it now.

“low hanging fruit” – I kind of like this one, if only for the exotic connotations it brings with it. I think it’s readily understood and providing it’s used in the right context and all that, I don’t see the problem.

“pre-prepare and forward planning” “Is there any other kind of preparedness or planning?" - Good point, ‘Edward from Exeter’. Pre-prepare is ridiculous, forward planning only slightly less egregious. I guess where it’s used to differentiate between planning for an imminent event and one somewhere in the more distant future, it’s just about justifiable. But I’m being generous here.

Caroline Garlick, Ayrshire: “I work in one of those humble call centres for a bank. Apparently, what we're doing at the moment is sprinkling our magic along the way. It's a call centre, not Hogwarts." Bless her for her honesty. I think it’s fair to assume none of us have any magic to sprinkle – and particularly not call-centre staff. If, though, magic might mean vagueness, general unhelpfulness and a propensity to put you ‘on hold’ for no good reason, call centre staff have it in spades. I know ‘managers’ (and I use that term loosely) have got to rally the troops somehow, just please find a more appropriate, less cheesy way of doing it.

“from the get-go”. Oh come on! Get over yourself – there’s nothing wrong with it, providing it’s not over-used.

“360-degree thinking” – not heard of this one before. Nah, bin it.

110% - I think my GF was recently bemoaning this brarmer. We both concluded it was reserved for idiots and morons (middle-managers then).

Other brarmers:

“strategic staircase” – no idea.

“drill down” – what, to the centre of the earth?

“high altitude view” – Reminds me of Paul Thurrotts’ fave “mile-high view”. Still, I love your content, Paul! :-)

“Wouldn't want to wrongside the demographic” – Kind of catchy but not if it’s uttered more than half a dozen times.

And the winner is:

“You can't have your cake and eat it, so you have to step up to the plate and face the music” – Wow. New record for the most cheesy metaphor-mixing in a single sentence.  Takes cringing to a new height.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Solicitor-Advocates Blasted Over Alleged Incompetence

From the Law Society Gazette 23.04.09:

An extraordinary public row has erupted over the role of solicitor-advocates after a Crown Court judge told a court that he came close to discharging a jury because of concerns that a solicitor lacked the competence to represent his client properly.

Speaking in open court at the end of a two-week criminal trial, Judge Gledhill QC (pictured) criticised the performance of three of the four solicitor higher court advocates in the case

One solicitor ‘addressed the jury directly’ on two occasions in cross examination, another ‘clearly had no idea what the rules of re-examination were’ and the jury was ‘misled about one of the defendants’ bad ­character’.

‘The list goes on and on,’ he said.

At one stage, Gledhill said, he was so concerned about the lack of experience and competence of one of the solicitors that he felt he might have to conclude the defendant was ‘not properly represented’ and discharge the jury. ‘Fortunately that stage was not reached,’ he said.

Gledhill said the solicitor in question had done his best but ‘his knowledge of the law, procedure and advocacy skills fell below that which is needed in this case’.

Oh dear. ‘Done his best’. Hmmm.... ‘Never mind, Old Boy – you tried’. Sounds something like a pompous parent would say to his child after a disappointing performance on a school sports day.

Quite frankly, I’ve always been a bit sceptical over this hybrid role for solicitors in England and Wales - if only for the problem of overcoming the disdain with which they are so clearly viewed by the bar and the judiciary. Like it or not, the view that ‘sol-ads’ are second-rate barristers is prevalent out there and I think it’s been remarkably clear for several years they have quite a battle on their hands to gain acceptability for their advocacy work. Whether it’s justified or not isn’t really the point, either. I would guess that more often than not, the lack of competence is more a perception than a reality but that doesn’t make the hurdle any easier to surmount.

Quite where an answer lies in helping solicitor-advocates gain greater recognition for the quality of their advocacy, I’m not sure. Answers on a postcard please.

And as for the faux pas in this case? Well, perhaps they’d been watching a bit too much Boston Legal!


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

UK Microsoft Ads Leave Apple Without An Answer


The new Microsoft ads which have finally responded Apple’s more direct and hard-hitting approach towards Redmond themselves have been (justifiably) applauded far and wide.  After the lukewarm reception which the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld ads received, Microsoft’s second wave of ‘I’m a PC’ ads thankfully fared rather better.  Then, in recent weeks Microsoft has aired a series of ads showing Lauren and Giampaolo with a certain budget shopping around for laptop PCs.  The key points highlighted in the ads are the vast range of choice for hardware running Windows and, perhaps more crucially, the fact the shoppers quickly dismiss Apple as a viable option because of the extortionate prices they charge for their hardware (which the bevy of Mac fanboys out there remain perpetually blind to of course).

And now with the release of a series of UK ads (such as Danni above) Microsoft have really upped the ante.  Specifically designed to showcase the simplicity of MS software, these ‘charming’ ads have gone down an absolute storm.  As Paul Thurrott pointed out in his blog:

[w]hat's so perfect about these ads, of course, is that they cannot be attacked. While Macworld and every Mac fanatic site on earth are busy deconstructing the "Laptop Hunter" ads and "Apple Tax" stories with frenzied and increasing desperation, there is absolutely nothing that Apple or its crazy fanatic followers can do to counter these cute kids using Windows. Any retort would just look stupid and mean-spirited.

You can view the other UK ads here.

Love it.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Summer Term Starts

Pencil Pot

I knew this day would come but that hasn’t made its arrival any easier to accept. Yes, today marks the start of the summer term and all of the revision/exam fun that goes with it. Before the games can begin properly, though, I’ve got to wrap up the coursework-based modules.

I’m not quite up to where I’d wanted to be as have my final corporate governance paper to write before I can switch properly into exam mode. (Before the start of the Easter break I had stated I wanted ALL papers written by the end.  Hmmmph: so much for that). Still, I started the research for the paper last week while I was down in Cornwall so aim to have it finished by the end of this week (subject to change and all that).

Unfortunately I have to head into the city for the next 3 days straight – which is a bit of a hassle. Still, I don’t want to miss a single session at this stage in case any precious exam-hints are given out. More so this year than any other, even before Easter, it felt as though things were wrapped up and it was all over bar the shouting exams. Unfortunately, two classes have spilled over into this term – Company Law and Corporate Governance. Just brilliant!

I’m also bracing myself for the final instalment of course fees to be snatched from my bank account in the next few days but can at least take comfort from the fact I will not be shelling out on any more education for the foreseeable future. 

Oh and if there were any doubt that summer term has arrived in full vigour, the fantastic weather has descended and I’m stuck inside tapping away at a computer keyboard.  Sounds about right!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Boys will be boys

Orchard v Lee [2009] EWCA Civ 295

From the Solicitors Journal 07/04/09:

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a 13 year-old boy who ran into a dinner lady and seriously injured her during a game of tag in a school courtyard was not liable for negligence.

“13 year-old boys will be 13 year-old boys who will play tag,” Lord Justice Waller said. “They will run backwards and they will taunt each other. If that is what they are doing and they are not breaking any rules they should not be held liable in negligence.

“Parents and schools are there to control children and it would be a retrograde step to visit liability on a 13 year-old for simply playing a game in the area where he was allowed to do so.”

However unfortunate this ‘injured dinnerlady incident’ might be, working with kids is sometimes like this. Thankfully, commonsense prevailed and the law has made no attempt to curtail children playing what must one of the oldest games ever devised. Of course children have a duty not to do utterly ridiculous acts (generally speaking) but they also must be afforded the freedom to play and enjoy childhood games unencumbered by regulatory shackles. This is surely the correct decision, no matter how you slice it.  And besides, from what I remember, dinnerladies are generally officious enough as it is, without the law purporting to feed their power trips any further.

But seriously, this kind of thing goes with the territory of being a dinner lady.  My message is simple; Working with children can be (occasionally) dangerous. If in doubt, don’t work with them!


Thursday, 16 April 2009

My Legal Space: On the road/Easter edition

As regular readers of Law Actually will know, I’ve travelled down to my home in Cornwall for a few days, visiting my poor neglected parents and indulging in a bit of R and R etc.  I’ve made a point of not working too much (though did start my research for my final Corporate Governance assignment earlier today). I thought it was high time I provided another '’My Legal Space’ photo so here’s an ‘on the road’ edition.

I’ve deliberately travelled light (in terms of my legal-gear) bringing just a laptop with me and no papers/books etc.  As you can see, I’ve been getting my sustenance from Coca Cola and a tube of mini eggs this afternoon.  Happy days!

Fun Fact: my favourite mini eggs are the yellow ones; my GF claims there’s no difference between the colours though!

Think Before You Post… Will the message ever be heeded?

job hunting law In a paper I wrote recently concerning the future of social networking, I argued that the single most effective solution for its safe use going forwards was the need for education to be heightened. This educative solution focussed on many things, from privacy related issues to piercing the virtual veil – a concept that I coined late last year. My recommendations were quite far-reaching and centred on a broad, multi-pronged approach to raising education and knowledge of the full-blown implications of social networking. On this basis, I guess, sending out reminders to job-seekers that their online actions can have real world implications – particularly for their job prospects – can only be a good thing.

From an email that dropped into my Inbox overnight from

Social networking is a relative newcomer in the world of online recruitment and research is still being carried out into its effects.

However, it has already had a massive impact on millions of people and it would be naive to believe that you are immune from its effects.

When companies are researching a potential candidate for a job, running the person's name through Facebook or MySpace is increasingly becoming a routine part of the process.

Think about it. Would you really want your potential employer to see photos of you from a night out, your last holiday or another personal event? Would they present you as the most suitable person for an executive job?

Repeating the same message countless times, though, is of little use. Ultimately, those users who document some of the wackier things they get up to in their spare time on social networking sites really have to stop and take that message on board.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Social Networking User? Yes?...Then you're a bad person!

Facebook bad person

Just as my feelings towards social networking are beginning to mellow slightly, I'm told that it's making me a 'bad person'.  Great.

From the Metro 14.04.09:

Using Facebook or Twitter may make you a bad person because it ruins your moral compass, it has been claimed.

Fast-paced modern media, such as Facebook updates and news feeds on Twitter, do not give us time to reflect and could make us indifferent to human suffering, according to a group of researchers.

Children could be particularly vulnerable because their brains are still developing, it was claimed.

'If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality,' said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, from the University of Southern California.

Monday, 13 April 2009


I’m heading back home to Cornwall for a few days tomorrow. The weather isn’t supposed to be great – that’s Cornwall for you – but it should be good nonetheless. I’ve not been back since early September so I guess this trip is overdue.

I’d originally set myself the goal of completing my IT law paper before leaving. It’s virtually done now but I still need to edit about 300 words out and finish the referencing. Quite why this assignment has been akin to having several teeth pulled I don’t quite know but I’m certain it’s going to feel great when I’m the other side of it. :-)

Anyhoo, I expect I’ll still be keeping my finger on the pulse of the blawgosphere while I’m gone – just a bit less frequently, that’s all. In any case, we seem to be going through a bit of a lull at the moment. It’s that time of year, I guess.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Bar Stool Driver Charged with Drink Driving

Only just stumbled across this gem. 

From Sky News 02.04.09:

A man in Ohio has been charged with drink driving after he crashed a motorised bar stool at 20mph.

Kile Wygle, 28, adapted a regular bar stool and fitted it with a steering wheel, tyres and a small engine.

He managed to escape the crash with only a minor injury to his head but immediately had his licence suspended by police.

While he was being treated by paramedics, Wygle told a police officer he had consumed "a lot" of beers before he drove the stool.

However, he later changed his story saying he only consumed alcohol after the crash.

"I drank quite a bit after I wrecked because my head hurt so bad," he told a local TV station.

"I went in and drank a half a bottle of whiskey."

As you do.

So it seems that racing motorised bar stools is considered a sport in some parts of the US. I guess everyone needs a hobby.

Motorised Bar Stool

Friday, 10 April 2009

When speed humps can kill

Speed Hump In browsing a semi-humorous article entitled ‘The 5 Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don't Work)’ that I found via Digg, I stumbled across a link relating to speed humps and how they impede response times for emergency vehicles.

Pretty obvious, you might think. But it was the extent of the problem which interested me and the irony behind the perception of their life-saving value – at least in some parts of the world.

From Bromley Borough Roads Action Group:

The Chairman of the London Ambulance Service, Sigurd Reinton, recently claimed that speed humps are killing hundreds of Londoners by delaying 999 crews. He said “For every life saved through traffic calming, more are lost because of ambulance delays.” 

There are about 8,000 heart attack victims in London every year, and London has a particularly poor survival rate. One reason is no doubt because even a small delay increases the death rate enormously. For example 90% of victims survive if treated within 2 minutes, but it falls to 10% if treatment is delayed for 6 minutes.  So for every additional minute of delay caused, up to an extra 800 victims of cardiac arrest could die. This compares with a total of 300 people who die from traffic accidents.

Research in the USA supports these claims. One report from Boulder, Colorado suggests that for every life saved by traffic calming, as many as 85 people may die because emergency vehicles are delayed. It found response times are typically extended by 14% by speed-reduction measures.

Mark Belchamber examined the effect that speed humps have on paramedic response times and patient care in a thesis available here.

The study main consisted of asking 36 paramedics from different parts of the country for their experiences, and their response to humps. For example, 66% would deviate to avoid humps even when on emergency calls, and half of them were willing to add 2.5 minutes to the response time as a result.

88% of paramedics felt that speed humps interfered with CPR or other medical procedures. All respondents considered that a number of patient conditions were affected detrimentally by speed humps, particularly spinal or back injuries, and fractures generally.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

New Blog Theme: Law Actually 2.0

Law Actually 2.0Yes, it’s official: Law Actually 2.0 has arrived.  My previous blog design had been in place since May 2007 and it was coming to the end of its planned two year service.  I felt it served Law Actually well and was obviously based heavily on the visual style adopted by the film, Love Actually, to which this blog duly owes its name.  I know – I’m not particularly proud of it!  Alas the style was getting a little long in the tooth and I’ve wanted a 2nd sidebar to accommodate the growing content for a while now.

So, yeah, here it is.  This style wasn’t my first choice.  I had initially opted for something a bit more laid-back and, dare I use the word, grungy!!  You can check that style out over at my other (and now defunct) blog, F1 Central.  It’s a kind of ‘what might have been’. 

law actually initial

Feedback from my ‘focus group’ suggested it wasn’t ‘lawwy enough’ and perhaps was a touch too grungy.  I don’t know: I still kind of like it. 

So, I duly went back to the drawing board and came up with another design for Law Actually 2.0.  I reverted to a style which incorporated red as a key colour and law-ed it up a bit more.  It was going to adopt a filmstrip design as part of the header and footer, but ultimately I felt that little ‘Polaroid stills’ looked better.  Some of my annotations seem a bit lame but it’s a work in progress, I guess.  Plus, with this style, I can change the header photos and annotations as and when the mood takes me, which, if history is anything to go by, will probably be quite often. 

The new design isn’t perfect and I’m still fiddling here and there. Not-so-fun-fact: I’ve given myself no end of trouble by word-wrapping post photos to the text (particularly blockquote text) for the past year and a bit which I’ll probably have to go back and change.  It looks really bad in Internet Explorer, but, I guess, if you’re using that browser, you’ve brought it on yourself.  I’m just kidding.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009



No doubt many of you will recognise this from the latest series of the IT crowd, but it’s such a good parody of social networks -and particularly Facebook – that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it on Law Actually.

In the explanatory video of what Friendface is all about, an analogy with contagious illnesses is drawn.  And I think that’s about right for a lot of social networks out there.

Some of my favourite quotes:

“Each Friendface page is like a petridish filled with Friendface germs.”

“It’s basically a diseased face of friendship.”

“Just sign up to Friendface by giving us all of your personal information.”

“We own everything you put on friendface – it says so in the terms and agreements. But don’t worry about that, we won’t use it to do anything bad – we promise!”

Later in the actual episode, Moss bemoans that his mother has signed up to Friendface, meaning he must endure yet another channel of communication with her. When colleague Jen suggests that that can only be a good thing, Moss’ reservations quickly become understandable when he reveals she’s set her online mood to ‘sensual’.

Love it.

You just can’t beat this stuff.

Monday, 6 April 2009

My legal space/3rd IT law paper

Not so tidy, eh?  I came in for some stick for my last legal space photo, with allegations to the effect that I’d ‘staged’ it.  That wasn’t true – it was merely taken on one of my ‘neater’ days.  But anyway, here’s another photo just to demonstrate that I’m not always like that.

This pretty much sums up my whole experience with this 3rd and final IT law paper.  I feel it really ‘speaks’ to the progress I’ve made and sense of direction I’m experiencing with my thesis.  Oh yes!

I’m about to start the ‘writing process’, so, you know, lots of luck and motivation needed.


Facebook Friend Saves Teenager’s Life

Facebook suicide note I know I rag on Facebook quite a bit, but this story is truly amazing.

“A British teenager’s suicide note on Facebook sparked a transatlantic rescue mission which saved his life.

The 16-year-old boy’s threat to kill himself, sent to a girl 3,600 miles away, in Maryland, America, was the starting point for an extraordinary race against time.

When she read his private post at 11.30pm on Wednesday night his American friend told her parents, who called the local state police.

The only details they were given were his name and the fact he went to school in Oxforshire [sic].

Within one hour the girl’s distress call was passed all the way across the across the Atlantic to Thames Valley Police via a White House Special Agent, the British Embassy in Washington DC and The Metropolitan Police in London.

Armed with scant facts from his Facebook profile, Thames Valley Police Officers turned to other internet sites, including Google and online electoral roll search services to trace him.

They managed to narrow down the boy’s home to eight possible addresses, dispatching officers to each one.

At 2.30am, three hours after his message was sent the boy was found at the fourth address, alive but suffering from an overdose of prescription pills.

The boy, who has not been named, was rushed by ambulance to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he made a full recovery.”

You can read the full story here at The Times.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

More courtroom shenanigans

Gary Slapper’s most recent entry in his tireless exploration of those weird and wacky cases that are peppered throughout case law touches on a rather mischievous topic: bare faced cheek. legal bare faced cheek

From the Times 02/04/09:

Faced with a tough legal challenge, a law academic should be able to strip away anything superficial and quickly get to the bottom of the matter.

Megumi Ogawa, a lecturer in law, did that unconventionally when representing herself in an Australian trial recently. Unimpressed by the prosecution’s case against her, she lowered her trousers and bared her buttocks at the judge.

For presenting her rebuttal in that way, she was given a predictably poor mark and jailed for four months for contempt by the Brisbane District Court.

[D]uring the trial, she was forcibly removed from the court several times for sustained high-pitched screaming, making statements calculated to bring the justice system into disrepute and violent wrestling with security officers.

(As opposed to gentle/peaceful wrestling, I suppose?)

All this talk of mooning at a judge reminds me of a Christmas card design stocked by professional gift specialist, Carbolic Smoke Ball:90190Great stuff.

More from the Times:
The award for most impassive unclothed contempt goes jointly to Mssrs Gohoho and Gough. After being ordered to pay £50 into court as a security payment in 1964 for a forthcoming action, Mr Moses Gohoho manifested his despair in the High Court in London by removing his trousers and underpants and lying on the court bench in front of the judges.

What an exotic name: Moses Gohoho. It rather lends itself to some kind of smutty play on words – Austin Powers’ style. But what an eyeful it must have been for the judges, who surely couldn’t have missed it; unlike magistrates, High court judges wouldn’t dare be caught ‘resting their eyes’. Cue the previous post!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Magistrate merely ‘resting his eyes’

From CPD Webinars 30.03.09:

Magistrate, John Harrison, is being investigated after it was alleged that he fell asleep during a teenager's trial for a suspected assault.

Mr Harrison was sitting with two colleagues at Lancaster Magistrates Court when the defendant's mother noticed that he had closed his eyes.

She informed her son's solicitor who proceeded to make an official representation to the court.

Mr Harrison denied having fallen sleep, but following discussions with both his colleagues and a court official decided to halt the case after a day and a half and schedule a retrial for next month.
Mr Harrison told his local newspaper he had merely been resting his eyes.
"I was not asleep, but I rested my eyes for five minutes or so," he said. "It was just a normal reaction in the middle of the afternoon.
"The court was warm - the heating was on and the sun was pouring in through the window.
"I was still listening to the defence solicitor speaking to the defendant and I was able to take down some notes related to what was said.

Sleeping Judge

Resting his eyes? Hmm, we’ve all heard that one before. Quite why Mr Harrison would then go on to explain that the heating was on and the sun was making the court hot, I don’t know. Surely even a humble magistrate is capable of recognising that painting such a picture is unlikely to help his cause.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Google April Fools’ a flop? Ingenuity has left the building

 cadie let down

I can’t be the only one thinking this.  Recent years have been so good on the Google April Fools’ front but this year’s offering falls disappointingly flat, courtesy of CADIE.  In 2007 we had the brilliant Google Flushdrive (which essentially involved flushing cables down a toilet for connectivity) and in 2008 we were treated to the ingenious Google Custom Time which ‘allowed’ you to back-date emails – primarily for mischief making.  Both ideas were great April Fools’ trickery.

This year, however, Google have unveiled CADIE Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity for April 1st.  And it just seems like a massive damp squib to me.  It’s something about, um, oh go and read it for yourself.Poke the Panda

There’s a quirky blog deliberately designed to look amateurishly bad which features Cadie the panda – go figure.  It’s ‘something’ I guess…. if you like that kind of thing.  As if that were not enough, though, there’s a YouTube channel and some explanatory text.  Hmm.

And that’s it?  Yeah, that’s really ‘it’.

Seriously, Google: you’ve let us down for April Fools’ this year.  

Cadie Blog