Bill Cosby goes on trial, his freedom and legacy at stake

first_img Bill Cosby sentenced to 3-10 years in state prison for sexual assault Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) Bill Cosby went on trial Monday on charges he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman more than a decade ago, with prosecutors immediately introducing evidence the 79-year-old TV star once known as America’s Dad had done it before to someone else.The prosecution’s opening witness was not the person Cosby is charged with abusing, but another woman, who broke down in tears as she testified that the comedian violated her in the mid-1990s at a hotel bungalow in Los Angeles.Cosby is on trial on charges he assaulted Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University’s basketball program, at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. His good-guy reputation already in ruins, he could get 10 years in prison if convicted.In her opening statement, prosecutor Kristen Feden noted that the “Cosby Show” star previously admitted under oath that he gave Constand pills and touched her genitals as she lay on his couch.“She couldn’t say no,” Feden said. “She can’t move, she can’t talk. Completely paralyzed. Frozen. Lifeless.”Cosby attorney Brian McMonagle countered by attacking what he said were inconsistencies in Constand’s story, disputed that Constand was incapacitated and made the case that she and Cosby had a romantic relationship.He said Constand initially told police that she and Cosby did not speak after their 2004 encounter, when, in fact, phone records show the two talked 72 times, with 53 of those calls initiated by Constand.Constand, 44, of the Toronto area, is expected to take the stand this week and tell her story in public for the first time.The trial’s first witness was Kelly Johnson of Atlanta, who worked for one of Cosby’s agents at the William Morris Agency. She described an encounter she said took place in 1996 at the Hotel Bel-Air when she was in her mid-30s.Prosecutors are trying to show Cosby’s treatment of Constand fit a pattern of predatory behavior.They had wanted to call as many as 13 women who say Cosby sexually assaulted them, out of more than 60 accusers in all. But Judge Steven O’Neill, in a victory for Cosby, said the jury could hear only from Constand and Johnson.Johnson testified that Cosby pressured her to take a large white pill that knocked her out, and when she woke up he put lotion on her hand and forced her to touch his genitals.“My dress was pulled up from the bottom, and it was pulled down from the top, and my breasts were out,” she said, crying. “And I felt naked.”Cosby’s lawyer argued that Johnson was seeking a payout from the TV star.McMonagle said Johnson mixed up the years and other details of her encounters with Cosby, and he grilled her about why she never said anything when she left William Morris. She came forward in 2015 at a news conference with celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.“I felt embarrassed because I had a secret about the biggest celebrity in the world at the time and it was just me, just my word against his, and I was very afraid,” Johnson said.Cosby grinned and tapped his wooden cane as his lawyer questioned Johnson.The comedian arrived at the courthouse in the morning holding his spokesman’s arm for support as he walked past dozens of cameras.Cosby’s wife, Camille, was not in court. But actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played his daughter Rudy on “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s and ’90s, was at his side as he made his way into the building. She told reporters she was there to support her TV dad.“I want to be the person that I would like to have if the tables were turned,” she said. “Right now it’s the jury’s job and the jury’s decision to determine guilt or innocence. It’s not mine or anyone else’s.”Cosby built a wholesome reputation as a father and family man, on screen and off, during his extraordinary 50-year career in entertainment. He created TV characters, most notably Dr. Cliff Huxtable, with crossover appeal among blacks and whites alike. His TV shows, movies and comedy tours earned him an estimated $400 million.Then a deposition unsealed in 2015 in a lawsuit brought by Constand revealed that Cosby had a long history of extramarital liaisons with young women and that he obtained quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women before sex. Dozens of women soon came forward to say he had drugged and assaulted them.Those developments led prosecutors in Pennsylvania to bring charges against Cosby a decade after the district attorney at the time concluded the case was too weak.The statute of limitations for prosecuting Cosby had run out in nearly every case. This is the only one to result in criminal charges against the comic.Feden, the prosecutor, warned the jury not to fall into the trap of confusing celebrities with the characters they play.“We think we really know them,” she said. “In reality, we only have a glimpse of who they really are.”Cosby’s lawyers tried repeatedly to get the case thrown out, arguing that a previous district attorney promised him he would never be charged, and that witnesses have died, memories have faded and the comedian is all but blind.The AP does not typically identify people who say they are sexual assault victims unless they grant permission, which Constand and Johnson have done. Related Articles:2 more women join defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby4 more women join defamation suit against Bill CosbyAs trial nears, Bill Cosby says racism could be a factorBill Cosby ordered to stand trial in decade-old sex case Author: AP Bill Cosby’s star on Hollywood Walk of Fame won’t be removed Recommendedcenter_img Bill Cosby goes on trial, his freedom and legacy at stake Published: June 5, 2017 8:32 AM EDT Updated: June 5, 2017 5:58 PM EDT SHARElast_img read more

Social media stalker travels from Michigan to meet Pennsylvania teen

first_img Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. Social media stalker travels from Michigan to meet Pennsylvania teen Recommended Immokalee man arrested, faces second-degree murder for shooting death Deputies respond to Murphy USA gas station in Lehigh Acres Author: CBS Philly SHARE RADNOR TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS 3) Radnor Township police have arrested a man accused of stalking a local teenager, who has hundreds of thousands of followers across multiple social media channels.Michael Lieb (Photo via CBS Philly/Radnor Township Police)Michael Leib, 30, of Plymouth City, Michigan has been charged with multiple counts of stalking and harassment after reportedly tracking down the Wayne home of the 18-year-old.Detectives say Leib drove nearly 90 hours from Michigan to the teen’s home and tried to make contact at least five times, first on Oct. 25 and again on Nov. 7.They say the contact began with lewd messages on social media, asking the teenager to “hook up,” but it’s unclear how he found the teen’s personal information.“[The victim] was not responding, leading him on or making any suggestions. He wasn’t inviting him,” said Radnor Township Police Detective Jim Santoliquito.On October 25, Leib reportedly knocked on the front door and told the victim’s mother he is a friend.He later allegedly sent messages to the victim’s family members saying he would “take their son.”On November 7, investigators say Leib showed up to the home at least three times but left before police arrived.They were able to lure Leib back to the house using the victim’s social media accounts, police say. When they saw him pull up to the home in a Jeep Cherokee, they arrested him.They add that Leib used the name “Michael Dombroski” in messages to the teen and also to investigators.He also allegedly posted messages on his own social media accounts, soliciting teenagers for a back massage or to perform sexual acts.Authorities are urging parents to monitor their children’s social media use.“It’s very important for families to go over internet safety,” said Deputy Superintendent Chris Flanagan.Eyewitness News spoke to several local residents, unnerved by the news of the incident.Nick Walling, 14, says he already takes extra precautions and keeps all of his social media accounts private.“I try to refrain from sharing any personal things on social media, just keep things as vague as possible,” he said.Mignon Toppino says she never adds her location to any online posts.“I think social media can feel like you know that person personally because you see so much of their life but you don’t and you don’t have the right to invade their life,” she said.Leib is being held at the Delaware County jail on $20,000 bail. Investigators are waiting for a search warrant to search his Jeep Cherokee. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 16. Published: November 12, 2017 3:46 PM EST last_img read more

Legal aid now underpinned by international principles

first_img Join our LinkedIn Legal Aid sub-group Jonathan Goldsmith is secretary general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, which represents about one million European lawyers through its member bars and law societies. He blogs weekly for the Gazette on European affairs There was a welcome development on legal aid this week, from of all places the United Nations. Legal aid is of course something usually dealt with at national level, and there are wide divergences in national treatment and national expenditure. The European Union has tried to introduce European standards for criminal legal aid, but they are feared to be so controversial that they have not so far been tabled: they were separated from the ‘right to a lawyer’ proposal now being discussed, and they are being pushed into 2013 because they do not chime with the current ‘Justice for growth’ initiative. So the United Nations has stepped into the breach, with new ‘UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems’. Before describing the content of the principles, it is worth explaining the importance of documents like this. Of course they do not produce a single penny of money for legal aid. And they are obviously more useful in countries with no or very poor legal aid systems. But they are vital nevertheless in everyday lobbying. For instance, there are already UN ‘Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers’. We use them constantly when we write to foreign governments when they are abusing their own lawyers. So article 16 of the basic principles says that ‘governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference’ and article 23 says that ‘Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly.’ We can even use provisions against EU governments if they interfere too much in the running of a bar or law society – for instance, article 24: ‘The executive body of the professional associations shall be elected by its members and shall exercise its functions without external interference.’ Regarding the legal aid declaration, I shall just comment on those aspects which struck me out of a very long and detailed document. First, the provision of legal aid is not foreseen as being provided only by lawyers: ‘The first providers of legal aid are lawyers, but the principles and guidelines also suggest that states involve a wide range of stakeholders as legal aid service providers in the forms of non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, religious and non-religious charitable organisations, professional bodies and associations and academia.’ That might be contrary to the policies and practices in a number of EU member states (even if I can see that it might be useful in countries where the legal system is struggling through lack of resources). Second, the document is divided into principles and guidelines. Under guideline 3 (‘Other rights of persons suspected, arrested, detained, accused, charged with a criminal offence’), there is an excellent encouragement to states to introduce measures covering the broad front of minimum procedural safeguards, rather like the EU’s own version: right to information on the right to remain silent; right to be assisted by a lawyer, including during interview; right to contact with consular authorities; right to notify family; right to interpretation and translation; and so on. Third, the extent of the document is rather wide: for instance, ‘the term “legal aid” includes legal advice, assistance and representation for persons suspected, arrested, accused or charged with a criminal offence, detained and imprisoned and for victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process.’ It is interesting that it covers victims and witnesses, too. The document was adopted at the end of April by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. It is due to go the General Assembly in November. (My organisation, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, will now study it.) The infamous John Bolton once said that if the UN secretariat building in New York lost 10 storeys, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Well, it would if the part housing legal aid policy went. We would have lost an invaluable document.last_img read more

International regulation of unmanned military drones needed

first_img Roger Smith is director of the law reform and human rights organisation Justice Let’s hear it for the Methodists. I declare an interest. I am from non-conformist stock on both sides – dour, pledge-signing, earnest folk. No surprise to me and my kind that the established church spent its recent synod counting the number of women bishops that you can get on the head of a pin (answer: for the time being, none). Meanwhile, the Methodists grappled with the ethical elements of one of the major politico-military issues of the day – the use of unmanned military drones. The Methodists are on to something. A debate is beginning to get traction in the US. This has been stoked by former president Jimmy Carter, a one-time southern Baptist who is now a professor at a Methodist university. He published a trenchant op-ed piece in The New York Times last month asserting that ‘the US is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights’. A major factor in this was president Obama’s expansion of the programme of targeted assassinations undertaken by drones. Carter said: ‘We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.’ This is not simply a US debate; the UK is involved up to the hilt. We bought some US Reaper drones and keep them in constant rotation over the Pakistan/Afghanistan war zone. Our drones are not just for surveillance. The Ministry of Defence accepts that they have caused at least four civilian fatalities since 2008. The MoD is sufficiently concerned to have issued a ‘joint doctrine note’ on unmanned aircraft systems to prompt debate last year. Urgency was necessary because ‘there is a general expectation across defence, academia and industry that unmanned aircraft will become more prevalent, eventually taking over most or all of the tasks currently undertaken by manned systems’. The drones are coming and there are going to be many more of them. Smaller drones are used primarily for surveillance, but the largest can operate at high altitude and long range, performing ‘specialised missions including broad area surveillance and penetrating attacks’. We are a long way from hand-launched, rubber-band model aircraft. BAE is developing a twin-engine Mantis with a 22-metre wingspan ‘which would carry a range of weapons’. It is the use of these that needs a bit more scrutiny – as, to its credit, the MoD acknowledges. The key issue raised by drones is actually a general one – the ethics and law of assassination. The MoD dedicates a whole chapter in its consultation to ‘moral, legal and ethical issues’. Drones are, of course, immensely controversial in Pakistan, where they have simultaneously eliminated militants and enraged the population. Estimates of deaths caused by US drones in Pakistan alone vary between 2,000-3,000 people. The US asserts that most of these were militants. Others were ‘collateral damage’ or, as we might put it more transparently, innocent bystanders. The US depresses acknowledgement of collateral damage by assuming that any dead male of military age was an insurgent. The MoD paper strives to be balanced. It can see some up-sides to drones, making a sly dig at US battlefield conduct as it does so (‘robots cannot be driven by anger to carry out illegal actions such as those at My Lai’) but some problems (‘to a robotic system, a school bus and a tank are the same – merely algorithms in a program’). The Methodists have taken up issues which need much wider debate. As a speaker at its conference said: ‘The targeted killings carried out by the CIA in northern Pakistan demonstrate only too clearly the ethical challenges that will face us as this technology proliferates.’ In Israel, the ethical issues have already migrated into legal ones. No litigation followed Operation Wrath of God, recently covered in Spielberg’s Munich, but in 2005 the Israeli Supreme Court did consider targeted killings against alleged terrorists in Gaza. It decided that, in particular circumstances, civilian combatants could be legitimate targets for assassination if directly participating in hostilities. Elsewhere, it is the executive and not the courts that is, literally, calling the shots. President Obama, to the dismay of Carter and many others, has made increased use of targeted killings. An unpleasant degree of electorally helpful hype surrounds ‘terror Tuesdays’ when he signs off the following week’s targets. The great temptation, of course, is that drone attacks appear to be an effective reprisal at minimal risk against an enemy none too scrupulous about its own targets. And Obama’s homeland security adviser has come out fighting. Drones, says John Brennan, have an ‘unprecedented ability… to precisely target a military objective while minimising collateral damage’. He goes on to say ‘one could argue that never before has there been a weapon that allows us to distinguish more effectively between an al-Qaida terrorist and innocent civilians’. International law is struggling to keep up. The US has invented the handy concept of ‘unlawful combatants’ to legitimate a variety of actions from drone killings to water boarding. No one else is much persuaded. The UN has been trying for a consensus but got nowhere. But there needs to be some internationally agreed regulation of the use of this technology – and the broader use of targeted assassination. At the moment, an attitude of quiet and slightly embarrassed acquiescence carries us through. However, just wait until Iran and China start playing by the same rules. So the Methodists are right in their choice of relevance and morality; the Anglicans can tell us when they have the time to join in. last_img read more

‘Cutting edge’ approach to ethics needed – LSB

first_imgProposals to monitor ethics across an increasingly diverse legal services market are set out by the Legal Services Board (LSB) today. Its report says that ensuring the integrity of the profession in this way is central to maintaining public confidence in the rule of law. The report examines ways of better understanding the ethics of legal services providers in a newly liberalised market. It investigates how empirical research can be used to track ethics and outlines a series of tools to monitor whether individuals are complying with their core ethical obligations. It also proposes a work programme to generate data around ethics. Professor Richard Moorhead, University College London’s Centre for Ethics and Law director, who led the report team, said: ‘There is a growing recognition amongst professional regulators and sophisticated legal service suppliers that properly managing the ethics of their service goes beyond providing codes of conduct and policing complaints. ‘We can and should develop cutting edge approaches to professional ethics. This report shows that better tools can be developed to understand and promote the ethicality of practice.’ LSB chief executive Chris Kenny said: ‘Regulators, professional bodies and professionals need to better understand the drivers for ethical behaviour and be able to tack changes in a way that goes beyond what the report rightly characterises as the ‘anecdote and argument’ of past discussions. That’s why we welcome… this very thorough and imaginative report.’last_img read more

CJC reviews Jackson reforms

first_imgThe Civil Justice Council (CJC) has invited views on the impact of the Jackson reforms as the one-year anniversary of implementation approaches.The group is seeking feedback from judges, solicitors and other court users following 2013’s dramatic shake-up of civil litigation.The evidence will be gathered and used in a conference next month to consider the impact of the reforms, which came into force on 1 April last year.In particular, the CJC is seeking submissions on the practical effects of the reforms: the type of cases being taken on (and not being taken on) by law firms, the funding of litigation in relation to conditional fee agreements, damages-based agreements and qualified one-way costs shifting, and experiences of costs budgeting and the management of cases through the courts.Material should be submitted electronically to cjc@judiciary.gsi.gov.uk by 5pm on 7 March and be no more than 3,000 words long. The evidence is likely to be published after the CJC conference at the end of March.Mr Justice Ramsey (pictured), the judge in charge of implementing the Jackson reforms, is already conducting a review of the issues causing most concern. Ramsey’s three-man team is expected to complete its work by April, although another large-scale reform programme has been ruled out.last_img read more

City firms back social mobility programme

first_imgCity law firms are backing a unique programme to help promote diversity and social mobility in the legal profession.Baker and McKenzie joins DAC Beachcroft, the Government Legal Service, Pinsent Masons, Shoosmiths and Sidley Austin in sponsoring the BLD Foundation’s Legal Launch Pad programme.BLD Foundation founder Debo Nwauzu (pictured), a non-practising solicitor and barrister, said Legal Launch Pad was the only diversity and social mobility access programme that ‘selects and supports’ undergraduate and postgraduate students ‘throughout, up to, and including when they attain full-time employment’.The nine-month programme provides students with support in taking the next step in their legal careers, such as legal skills training workshops, one-to-one mentoring and work placements with sponsoring firms.The foundation’s announcement states that the programme boasts a ‘high’ success rate.A fifth of the 41 students supported in 2013 secured training contracts by May 2014 and more than half gained full-time employment in legal roles.The programme supported 40 students in 2014; a quarter secured training contracts by the ‘passing-out ceremony’ in September and a further 28% found employment.Of the 56 beneficiaries last year, 20 received training contracts by November and ‘many more’ are in compliance and legal assistance roles.This year the programme will help 56 students.West London Law Society president Nehal Vasani, an adviser to the foundation’s board of trustees, said: ‘In the current legal landscape, accessing a successful career in law is difficult even when all the stars are aligned for a candidate.‘Attempting to do so when you are struggling due to the hurdles of social mobility or as a result of coming into the profession from a disadvantaged background, for whatever reason, is nigh-on impossible.’Vasani said the programme gave participants an ‘invaluable’ opportunity to ‘achieve an equal footing with their counterparts, a position which they would otherwise be unable to achieve’.Sponsors also include Barclays, No5 Chambers, the University of Law and Vodafone. The charity also receives support from BP, Criterion Partnership, BPP Law School, magic circle firm Slaughter and May, and the London Borough of Hackney’s legal team.last_img read more

CLAF revived to support access to justice

first_imgA proposal to support access to justice through a pooled fund financed by money derived from civil damages has been revived in earnest.The Law Society, Bar Council and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives today announce the formation of a working group to examine the viability of a contingent legal aid fund. It will report by the end of the year.Law Society president Robert Bourns said the fund ‘could provide a valuable method to fund litigation and facilitate access to justice for those who lack the means to pay for legal services’.Described by the group as a ‘recyclable, pooled fund’, CLAF would be financed by a levy on damages recovered in successful civil cases where the client was supported by the fund.The working group, chaired by Justin Fenwick QC, will recommend what changes would be needed to make a CLAF viable, including changes to other forms of funding, legislative changes and changes to the Civil Procedure Rules.Terms of reference include investigating and reporting whether a non-profit fund could be viable in any area of civil litigation and whether it could be self-sustaining. The group will consider whether a fund could provide a satisfactory means of civil litigation funding alongside, or as an alternative to, existing support. It will also identify how a CLAF could be funded and what arrangements with lawyers, clients, insurers, funders or others would be necessary.The idea has a long pedigree. In 1978 human rights campaign group Justice published its original proposals for a CLAF. In 1997, in the run-up to the removal of personal injury cases from the scope of legal aid, proposals for CLAFs were made by the Bar Council, Law Society and Consumers’ Association. However, none of the proposals were implemented, with the government instead promoting conditional fee agreements under the 1999 Access to Justice Act reforms.Earlier this year, Lord Justice Jackson told a conference that the growth of third-party litigation fundings showed that a contingent fund could succeed.However, master of the rolls Lord Dyson warned last month that the rock on which the idea foundered when it was last considered ‘was the lack of money to provide the seed core’. Dyson feared this could happen again, though he thought the fund was an excellent idea in principle.Bourns said the group was keen to discuss ways to overcome the obstacles that prevented the idea of a CLAF from proceeding in the past. ‘It is also important to consider any unintended consequences on existing funding options, which are presently working well for people,’ he added.The group will produce an initial feasibility report by September and a final report by the end of the year.last_img read more

Brexit: UK firms ‘need US-qualified lawyers’

first_imgUK law firms may need to hire more US-qualified lawyers to compete in the post-Brexit landscape, specialist recruiters have predicted.A report on the implications of Brexit for banking lawyers states that US law may become more widely used in European transactions, especially when they involve acquisitions by US companies using US law firms.‘To compete, UK law firms could end up needing to have greater numbers of US-qualified attorneys,’ the report by Laurence Simons and Vacancysoft states.‘This bodes well for US-qualified lawyers living in the UK, as well as EU-registered competition lawyers.’Investment banks have started activating contingency plans, the authors say, adding: ‘This is, however, to be expected and not necessarily a cause for concern for those working in London.‘These institutions would have this kind of backup plan in place by default, and whilst a lot has been made of this in the press, there has been no mass exodus yet and the market seems keen to apply a business-as-usual policy to keep things on track.’Goldman Sachs currently employs one-sixth of its staff in London. Deutsche Bank has 12,000 employees in the UK.‘We will have to wait to see whether political pressures to repatriate banking jobs in institutions such as BNP Paribas play out,’ the report says.‘If this were the case, then our Paris office will certainly be very busy, and this will only add to the surge in demand for lawyers in France this year to date.‘As a result we are anticipating a significant increase in hiring for lawyers in the banking sector across Europe this year, with Paris likely to be the big winner as French banks repatriate jobs.’In June it was reported that the EU was preparing to move its London-based European Banking Authority from London following the referendum result.The authors predict that financial services regulatory lawyers will be in demand wherever the authority ends up being located.last_img read more

Unrepentant Mail demands ‘public hearings’ for judges as Brexit row escalates

first_imgLiz Truss CeremonyLiz Truss Becomes The New Lord ChancellorTruss broke her silence on Saturday after the Bar Council passed a resolution calling on the lord chancellor to condemn the attacks.The resolution read: ‘The Bar Council of England and Wales condemns the serious and unjustified attacks on the judiciary arising out of the Article 50 litigation. It regrets the lack of public statement by the lord chancellor condemning these attacks and calls upon the lord chancellor to do so as a matter of urgency. A strong independent judiciary is essential to a functioning democracy and to upholding the rule of law.’Other critics were more outspoken. On Twitter, PJ Kirby QC of commercial set Hardwicke accused Truss of ‘failing to honour her oath or perform her statutory duties’.Truss’s statement read: ’The independence of the judiciary is the foundation upon which our rule of law is built and our judiciary is rightly respected the world over for its independence and impartiality.’In relation to the case heard in the High Court the government has made it clear it will appeal to the Supreme Court. Legal process must be followed.’Truss’s statement was condemned as ‘too little, too late’ by shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon and it did not placate all her lawyer critics. The Criminal Bar Association described it as ‘wholly inadequate and confused’.Former attorney general Dominic Grieve is also highly critical of Truss in an article for the New Statesman today. Describing the government’s response to the ‘vitriol’ as ‘troubling’, he said: ‘Irrespective of its own view on the decision of the court, it was its positive duty to support the judiciary in its work and the right of the applicants to obtain legal redress in the Queen’s courts.’Yet one minister saw fit to criticise the applicants for bringing the claim at all, at a time when they were being subjected to death threats and the lord chancellor took 48 hours to issue the weakest of statements in support of judicial independence in the face of a wholly unjustified attack.’He added: ‘For a Conservative government that states it is rooted in traditions of respect for the rule of law and parliamentary democracy, this is not an acceptable position to adopt and is disappointing to many of us who give it our support. It reinforces the view that politicians act without principles and this is precisely what has already caused so much damage to the standing of our political institutions.’The lord chancellor had also issued another statement on Saturday night defending LCJ Lord Thomas, after former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Thomas should have recused himself from the case over his links with the European Law Institute. Truss described Lord Thomas as a ‘man of great integrity and impartiality’, adding: ‘Like all judges, he has sworn an oath to administer the law without fear or favour, affection or ill will.’The prime minister, meanwhile, defended the right of the judges to issue their ruling but failed to condemn the press attacks. She told reporters: ‘I believe in and value the independence of our judiciary; I also value the freedom of our press. These both underpin our democracy.’The Bar Council has said this morning it will write to the lord chancellor and is keeping the situation under review. The CBA, meanwhile, has again taken aim at the government for not doing enough. In a letter to its 4,000 members, chair Francis FitzGibbon QC says: ‘Neither the Lord Chancellor nor the Prime Minister have done what they ought to do, and unreservedly condemn both the calling of judges ‘enemies of the people’, the demands for their dismissal, and the making of their blameless personal lives into objects of reproach.’Standing by and saying nothing may not be meant as such, but is likely to be seen as tacit approval for what has gone on, and encouragement for more of the same. In these disturbed times, dignified silence doesn’t work because there are too many people who will see it as a green light.’Attorney general Jeremy Wright QC intervened with a seemingly less equivocal defence of the judges today. He told a Law Society breakfast: ‘The claimants in this and every other case are entitled to bring their case and to have it heard by the court and are entitled to do so without being harassed or intimidated. The judges in this case are entitled to decide this case in any way they choose in accordance with their judgment.’I’m sure they would accept they are unlikely to decide so without criticism. But the principles [of the rule of law] remain critical in cases as big and fundamental as this one.’I can and do defend those principles at the same time that I disagree respectfully with the court. But the good news is that there’s a mechanism to allow those who disagree. It’s called an appeal and we will make use of that mechanism.’Law Society president Robert Bourns welcomed Wright’s comments, adding:’Attacks on the judges simply because they were doing their jobs does our country no credit and government ministers must be unequivocal in their support for the rule of law even if they disagree with the judgment.’It is part of the role of lawyers to defend unpopular causes and there has been an increasing narrative in recent months that seeks to conflate the jobs solicitors and barristers do with the causes they represent as part of our system of justice. The extension of this to disparaging and criticising judges is dangerous and damaging.’This very narrative is undermining to a system which has evolved over many centuries and which helps ensure that power is not abused and that – where there are legal matters to be decided – citizens have recourse through the courts.”The vote on 23 June threw up an unprecedented set of challenges – but it decided just one thing: that Britain would leave the EU. We are fortunate in this country to have a set of institutions which provide clarity and resolution of issues triggered by that referendum.’This includes next month’s Supreme Court hearing on Article 50 which we hope will be greeted – whichever way it goes – with a much less inflammatory reaction.”The Daily Mail remains on the offensive this morning, interpreting the prime minister’s comments as backing the press and accusing the ‘liberal elite’ of ‘pompous humbug’ in its leader column.The leader describes the judiciary as a ‘virtual closed shop’, with Supreme Court judges ‘largely selected by their peers’.It adds: ‘Calls for public hearings to gauge candidates’ views and any political leanings – as happens in the US – have been resisted. Isn’t it time for a change?’Surely if judges have allegiances which may affect their decisions, the public has a right to know.’UKIP’s Evans, meanwhile, accused the High Court of overriding  the ’will of the British people’ by ruling there must be a vote in parliament.She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ’I think there is a debate to be had about whether or not judges should be subject to some kind of democratic control.’Evans said she was ’not saying we should get rid of judges’ but was ‘questioning the legitimacy of this particular case’.Evans’ comments were branded ’irresponsible’ by Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, former director of public prosecutions. He said: ’Some of us have worked in countries where judges do as governments tell them and we know that is highly corrosive of the rule of law and democracy.’Nigel Farage, meanwhile, said he intends to lead a ‘100,000-strong’ march on the Supreme Court on the first day of the government’s appeal, expected to be 5 December. The Daily Mail today joined UKIP leadership hopeful Suzanne Evans in calling for judges to be subject to public oversight following last week’s controversial article 50 ruling. The row over judicial independence continued to escalate this morning after a febrile weekend in which it embroiled both lord chancellor Liz Truss and prime minister Theresa May.In a statement, the Law Society called on government ministers to be ‘unequivocal’ in their support for the rule of law, and voiced alarm at a ‘dangerous and damaging’ tendency to conflate the jobs lawyers do with the causes related to their work.Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, meanwhile, condemned the ‘weakest of statements’ from Truss in support of the judges, which he said was ‘unacceptable’ for a Conservative government ‘rooted in traditions of respect for the rule of law and parlaimentary democracy’.  On Friday Truss came under intense pressure to speak out from lawyers infuriated by her silence in the wake of incendiary attacks in the pro-Brexit press on the lord chief justice, master of the rolls and Sales LJ. They were dubbed ‘Enemies of the People’ on the Mail’s front page.last_img read more