A lawyer, a DVD player and a wooden spoon
Perhaps UK law firm Freshfields needs to give their lawyers a refresher course in professional ethics. A trainee lawyer of the firm (similar to an articled clerk) had to relinquish a prize won at a Cambridge University Law Society charity quiz last week after she was caught attempting to pass herself off as a law student.
As reported in RollOnFriday, law firms were invited to sponsor tables of students at the event who took part in the quiz for a chance to win prizes. Trainee lawyers were sent along to represent the firm at each table, but, for the sake of fairness, were not allowed to win prizes.
The trainee almost got away with winning a portable DVD player which she reportedly attempted to smuggle out before the end of the night, but her cover was blown after a committee member put two and two together and exposed the fraud. After reluctantly returning the prize, the trainee reportedly threw a wooden spoon she had won earlier in the evening to the ground, exclaiming “do you want me to return this as well?”
Freshfields have put their best legal minds together to come up with a rock-solid defence for the trainee, and are reportedly now claiming that she never claimed to be a student, but rather merely denied being a lawyer. It’s an intricate legal argument that’s a bit beyond Folklaw. Apparently she was also only leaving early because quiz had run overtime and she wanted to catch the train home.
Folklaw recently reported that Sweden’s Bara Bradiost (Just Breasts) campaigners were petitioning Sweden’s equality watchdog, hoping to make a case for Swedish women to have he same rights as men to go topless around swimming pools and beaches. Last week Metro.co.uk reported that the case has been rejected by Anne-Marie Bergström, the equal opportunities ombudsman, who cleverly observed that “There is a physical difference between a woman’s upper body and that of a man”.
“There is also a great difference between how people in general perceive men’s and women’s bodies,” she said. The ombudsman acknowledged that the case was well worth bringing to the attention of the equality body, but it was “hard to maintain that [the topless women] were in a comparable situation to men who bathed with naked upper bodies”.
Court of Appeal on humour
Folklaw loves a bad joke in the pursuit of a lower form of wit, and is particularly fond of puns that wouldn’t stand up in the court of public opinion, let alone a court of law. But it’s good to see that the UK Court of Appeal is coming down on dodgy humour.
UK High Court Family Division judge, Justice Singer, has been ordered to step down from multimillion-pound divorce case, during which he made what have been described as “racially offensive” jokes about a Saudi sheikh during a pre-trial review.
In discussing the prospect of the sheikh’s attendance as a witness in Wendy and Nael El Farargy’s divorce case, the judge suggested that Sheikh Khalid Ben Abdullah Rashid Al Fawaz might “choose to depart on his flying carpet never to be seen again”. However, his presence would ensure that “no stone is unturned, every grain of sand is sifted,” London’s Daily Telegraph reported last month. The judge also asserted that the sheikh’s affidavit was “a bit gelatinous … a bit like Turkish Delight”.
Arguing that these comments suggested that the judge might be biased against him, the sheikh requested that Justice Singer stand down from the case, a request that the High Court judge declined but the Court of Appeal later granted. Justice Singer has since made a public apology to the sheikh, admitting that his comments were “poorly chosen” but were not intentionally racially disparaging.
“They were not intended to be racist, nor have I ever intended any disrespect or disregard for the tenets of Islam, or for the sheikh’s Saudi nationality and Arab ethnicity,” he said.
In handing down the Court of Appeal’s judgment, Lord Justice Ward said: “When I said at the beginning of the judgment that I found this case embarrassing, no little part of my embarrassment comes from my belief that the injection of a little humour lightens the load of high emotion that so often attends litigation and I am the very last judge to criticise laughter in court.
“I fully appreciate the conventional view that jokes are a bad thing. Of course they are when they are bad jokes - and I am sure I have myself often erred and committed that heinous judicial sin,” the Lord Justice said. “Justice Singer certainly erred in this case. These, I regret to say, were not just bad jokes. They were thoroughly bad jokes. Moreover, and importantly, they will inevitably be perceived to be racially offensive jokes.”
Folklaw hopes that they’re stood down before their own jokes and snide remarks become intolerable.
Extradition treaty? We don’t need no stinking extradition treaty
It’s enough to evoke images of the Wild West, 10-gallon hats and six-shooters, but the United States has told the United Kingdom that they have the right to “kidnap” UK citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the US.
The US Government’s position became clear during a hearing earlier this month in the UK Court of Appeal, where Lord Justice Moses quizzed Alun Jones QC, representing the US Government, over America’s attempted abduction of Gavin Tollman during his visit to Canada in 2005. Tollman, head of Trafalgar Tours, was arrested by Canadian authorities when he arrived in Toronto on business. After unsuccessfully applying to extradite Tollman from Britain over tax evasion charges, an American prosecutor persuaded Canadian officials to detain him for 10 days and then requested that they them to drive him to the US border and hand him over — without the inconvenience of an extradition hearing.
Tollman returned to Britain after a Canadian judge ordered his release. The judge described the US Justice Department’s efforts as a “sinister trap”, and an attempt to bypass extradition rules. However, in the UK Court of Appeal, which was hearing a US extradition request for Tollman’s uncle and aunt (also for tax evasion), Jones advised the Lord Justice that kidnapping people wanted for offences in the US was completely acceptable under US law.
Jones did concede that the US “does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared” by other democracies. But he also said that no US court would rule an abduction illegal in those instances where US authorities might kidnap a person in another country rather than go through an extradition process. “It goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s,” Jones said.
The director of the human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti told TimesOnline, “This law may date back to bounty hunting days, but they should sort it out if they claim to be a civilised nation”.
Folklaw appreciates that kidnapping people accused of crimes might be a fine, upstanding way to behave as global citizens as far as the US is concerned, but can’t abandon the image of US officials in Stetsons and chaps, forming a posse, roaming the planet, hog-tying alleged criminals, and eating beans around a campfire, à la Blazing Saddles. Folklaw also wonders how the jurisdictions where said kidnapping occurs would look upon such behaviour, and what anyone’s chances of extraditing a card-carrying US bounty hunter might be. Enter, Boba Fett or at least Let’s Get Skase’s Craig McLachlan.
Mickey Mouse, witness for the prosecution?
We don’t think anyone here would be surprised to learn that Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck failed to appear before an Italian court last week, but in the weeks before Christmas a summons sent to Disney suggested that court officials handling a counterfeit toys case might still believe in Santa Claus.
News.com.au reports that the Disney icons have been summoned to appear at a Naples tribunal as witnesses in the trial of a Chinese man accused of selling counterfeit toys featuring the images of the signors Mouse and Duck.
The summons was compiled by officials in Naples, was reproduced in Milan and then delivered to the Walt Disney company. Reports indicate that the court specifically requested the presence of Mickey and Donald, but there’s no indication if the Naples tribunal had made any special provisions for fast tracking the star witnesses through quarantine or providing interpreters to make sense of Donald’s peculiar dialect.
Got off with probation? You should buy a lottery ticket
A United States man who pleaded guilty to bank robbery and received five years’ probation has won a US$1 million ($1.1 million) lottery. The only problem was that one of the strings attached to the probation was a gambling ban that puts his good fortune at risk.
As Folklaw went to press, a Massachusetts Office of the Commissioner of Probation was meeting to determine whether 55-year-old Timothy Elliott had violated his probation by buying the US$10 ticket for the “$800 Million Spectacular”, what any punishment might be and what could happen to his winnings.
After pleading guilty to the unarmed robbery of a Cape Cod bank last year, Elliot was given five years’ probation, the terms of which included an order “to not gamble, purchase lottery tickets, or visit establishments where gaming is conducted, including restaurants where Keno may be played”.
Boston.com reported that it was unclear exactly why Elliot was banned from gambling as a condition of his probation, but Cape and Islands district attorney Michael O’Keefe suggested that defendants that argue that gambling debts motivated them to commit their crimes were often subject to such conditions.
Words we’d like to see judicially defined
Definition: “(say ‘winoh) verb (t) 1. to free (grain, etc) from chaff, refuse particles, etc, by means of wind or driven air; fan … 4. to subject to some process of separating or distinguishing … 6. to pursue (a course) with flapping wings in flying” — Macquarie Dictionary online.
One of only 11 uses in Australian case law: “The appeal books were not prepared in the normal manner, and contained a great deal of material which was not in evidence before Young J. It was necessary to winnow from the documents in the appeal book those which were in evidence. The appellant applied to have additional material received, being the documents referred to in her affidavits sworn 26 June 2000 and 7 July 2000 and taking up most of the remaining documents in the appeal books” — Lacey v Hayden  NSWCA 182.