Our work continues and we are using video conferencing technology even more to progress client matters at the police station, Magistrates and Crown Courts. Call if you are unsure what is happening to your matter and we can find out more for you.
Exeter Magistrates continue to hear first hearings for those refused bail by the police but are now turning their attention to trials that have been put off because of COVID 19. These should be given dates soon.
New matters arising from police summons and charging during the COVID 19 period are building up and waiting for new dates at the Magistrates. New dates are being given all the time. It will not be long before such defendants will have effective first hearings at which they will need to attend.
We encourage anyone who is unsure what is happening after a police investigation, summons or charge to call us 01392 927111 and we can help find out what is going on for them.
What should the Crown Court do with the trials that cannot be heard during the COVID 19 emergency? Trials need Jurys and having 12 people attend a trial and make their decisions is very complicated if you are respecting social distancing. Some courts in the country are using 3 different court rooms to conduct one trial (one for the lawyers and witnesses, one for the jury to watch from and another for the jury to use whilst they make their decisions). Exeter Crown court does not have that number of courts to be able to do this and conduct other business. Some Judges have suggested having trials without juries: We hope it does not come to that.
For now, the Exeter Crown court is giving trial cases an early court hearing with a view to encouraging an outcome eliminating the need for a trial. We are keeping our clients informed of any such hearings and they are being asked to come to them, ready to respond to any new developments.
The Parole Board is making more use of video technology to hear oral hearings but there are no independent adjudications (IAs) happening yet at south west prisons. That may change soon – there is talk of arranging IA hearings again, although in the meantime we believe governors have been trying to resolve matters that might go to independent adjudication themselves.
Recall decisions continue as they always have done, being decided on the papers and on our written representations for our clients. We can help with all these prison law matters if you call us on 01392 927111.