The Secret Barrister | The Secret Barrister

Summary of: The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken
By: The Secret Barrister

Introduction

Embark on a fascinating journey through the complexities of the criminal justice system in England and Wales, as ‘The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken’ pulls back the curtain on its centuries-old traditions, pitfalls, and the people working tirelessly to champion justice. Delve into the distinctions between barristers and solicitors, the workings of the Crown Prosecution Service, and the concerning flaws in the system which often see the innocent suffer. Discover how budgetary constraints and institutional inefficiencies contribute to a broken justice system, and learn how the inquisitorial process used in European countries might offer valuable insight for reform.

British Court System

The British court system has a rich history dating back to the fourteenth century, and with traditional attire such as gowns and wigs still in use. The criminal trial involves a judge, jury, defendant, barristers, solicitors, and Crown Prosecution Service. Unlike other countries, barristers handle criminal cases on both sides of the adversarial process, making them more proficient in their work.

Justice by Untrained Volunteers

The Magistrates’ Courts in England and Wales have a long history, dating back to 1195, when they were established to tend to small-time offenders. Nowadays, they are the first stop for any criminal case and remain overseen by untrained volunteers who have no special legal knowledge or training. This has led to problems including inaccurate decisions on bail and imprisoning people without adequate reasons which conflict with laws and human rights. The next part of the book examines the issues with the CPS and their case files.

The Flaws in the Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system is plagued by budget cuts resulting in a backlog of cases, leading to rushed and incorrect prosecutions. Poor management and digitization have led to missing evidence or incorrect information which have in some cases resulted in the acquittal of criminals. For instance, Amy was robbed of justice because the police mishandled her case, leading to her attacker walking free. It is high time the government invests more resources in the system to ensure justice prevails.

The Dark Side of Legal Aid

The criminal justice system is designed to protect people from being falsely convicted, and the defense plays a significant role in achieving this goal. However, some vulturous defense solicitors who contribute to the negative image of a defense counsel exist. The problem of legal aid persists in England and Wales, as people with insufficient disposable income are eligible for it, even though private defense counselors can cost upward of £100,000 to £300,000. It is vital to have a reliable defense to protect innocent individuals from being wrongfully convicted, and making it harder to obtain increases the chances of that happening.

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