In contrast to the established courts and courtrooms in London, justice was once delivered to the outlying rural areas of England by horseback. For example Cambridgeshire had three towns which hosted periodic courts called “assizes.” The word “assize” refers to the sessions of the judges who traveled across the seven circuits of England and Wales, similar to the original concept of circuit courts in America. Abraham Lincoln was known to have traveled on such circuits during the time that he practiced law in Illinois. In England, these assizes were still active until they were abolished by the Courts Act of 1971, which replaced them with a single, permanent Crown Court.
Trial resumed with the banging of the gavel at 10:30 a.m., the traditional starting time for court in England. An American court would have ordinarily started at 9:30, or even earlier. Indeed, in my experience, I have often been in court, ready to go by as early as 8:30.
The Crown’s first witness for the day was the CCTV detective. England is awash in CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras. Although the use of CCTV dates back as early as the 1960s, the IRA bombing in Bishopsgate, London in 1993 resulted in the construction of a “Ring of Steel” around the capital, with CCTV cameras playing a major role. And, by 2011 there were an estimated 1.85 million CCTV cameras in use in the UK. These cameras are often very useful in criminal investigations in England.
Just before the proceedings started, the Detective-Sergeant in charge of the murder investigation provided me a short summary of the facts of the case: Two young men, both age 15 at the time of the crime, were charged with the stabbing death of one Shaquan Fearon on September 3, 2015. Just after 6:00 pm on that date, Scott and Dyer attacked Fearon and his companion, Junior Inneh, stabbing both, and killing Fearon.
Everyone has seen an American courtroom on television or in the movies. And, we have seen American lawyers walk freely about the courtroom, sometimes standing right up next to the witness. English Barristers never walk around the courtroom, and never move up next to a witness. Therefor, it should be no surprise that English courtrooms differ in many ways from American courtrooms.
We entered Courtroom No. 9 from a foyer on the third floor reserved for Barristers, witnesses and court personnel. Members of the public who wished to observe the proceedings could access a viewing gallery from the fourth floor. This prevented the general public from mingling with the court officials and witnesses. In an American courtroom, the public, the parties and the court personnel all congregate together.
As we finished our coffee, Sarah Whitehouse, my sabbatical facilitator, said it was time to go to court. We fetched our umbrellas and headed off to the Central Criminal Court located in the famous courthouse, The Old Bailey.
The Old Bailey is a venerable building. The site on which it stands was the principal west gate of the Roman City of Londinium. At the time of the Norman Conquest, circa 1066, the gate was being used as a prison, and during the 12th century the gate was rebuilt, and renamed the “New Gate.”
Today is a big day for Briton; voters will decide whether to remain in the European Community, or leave it. As I have been traveling through England on my sabbatical these past few weeks, this question has loomed large in the media, in the pubs and around kitchen tables.
My wife, Vicki, and I arrived at the home of our friends, Bob and Jill, yesterday, on the eve of the vote. Bob and Jill are solid citizens, retired, with five lovely grandchildren. They live in a small community near Cheltenham in the West of England. They are, I think, typical of the people whose views I’ve heard while traveling. They are just not sure which way to vote.
Early morning rain was falling steadily from the gray London sky as I made my way to the Holborn Street underground station. It was the first day of my sabbatical, and I was keen to make the most of it. I got off the train at St. Paul’s and made my way to the barrister’s chambers at 21 College Hill. As I stepped through the door, I was met by a clerk who took me directly upstairs to the Board Room, and introduced me to Sarah Whitehouse, QC (Queen’s Council), the English barrister who had graciously agreed to facilitate my sabbatical.
Barristers are specialists in courtroom advocacy. They practice independently, but generally form together into “chambers,” similar to an American law firm, except each barrister practices independently. Unlike in America, barristers in the same chambers may represent clients opposed to each other in court.
First, some history to give perspective. We owe much of our Anglo-American legal system traditions to two important people: King Henry II of England and Pope Innocent III.
Henry II reigned from 1154 to 1189. These were turbulent times in England, and Henry worked to consolidate government. Previously, England had many local courts with varied legal traditions, which led to inconsistent legal results. In 1176, Henry dispatched a group of royal justices to visit all the counties of England to establish a common law of the land, and to consolidate the administration of justice. Thus, Henry II is regarded as the founder of the Common Law, which the English colonists brought to America.
Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP is pleased to announce that partner Victoria Blachly has been appointed to the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter Leadership Board. Victoria’s history of advocacy work makes her a strong addition to the Leadership Board. Together, she and the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter hope to strengthen the momentum of the Alzheimer’s disease movement by increasing concern and awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP has been helping businesses, entrepreneurs & families build and protect their legacies since 1927.
Congratulations to Coquine! The local neighborhood Café and Restaurant was awarded Portland’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year award by The Oregonian.
Coquine is not quite a year old, but has been drawing local and national attention. The Oregonian article states “Coquine replaces fireworks and unnecessarily bold flavors with subtlety and unerringly precise technique.” Read the full article on The Oregonian’s site for more information on the Restaurant, the Owners, and the Award.
The American legal system has roots in Old England, all the way back to 1215, the year of the Magna Carta. Indeed, after winning our independence, we adopted (or, more accurately, retained) the English common law.
As the time for my sabbatical approached, I decided to use that opportunity to explore the English legal system first hand. And, this summer, I packed my bags and have come to England to view the law and courts of England. Watch the SYK blog for some of my observations.
Eldercare 101: A Practical Guide to Later Life Planning, Care, and Wellbeing is a new book to help elders and their families, as prepared by a practicing gerontologist and aging life care manager who collaborated with an experienced team of experts to write about “6 Pillars of Aging Wellbeing:” legal, financial, living environment, social, medical, and spiritual.
The book will be available in mid-August, but you can pre-order a copy now.
In 1916, Congress instituted the estate tax to boost U.S. revenues just in case we joined the fight in World War I. At the time, the top rate was 10% and the exemption was $50,000, which meant it affected less than 1% of estates. Proponents of the tax thought it was a reasonable way to raise money while its opponents in Congress thought it was a matter best left to the states.
Sumner Redstone, at 92 years-old and the controlling shareholder of his $40 billion media empire, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. has accomplished a lot. And a court recently ruled he can continue to make his own decisions, including deciding who should be his health-care agent.
Early reports tell us that the late musician Prince died without a will. Therefore, Minnesota “intestacy” statutes (i.e. statutes govern estates of decedents dying without a will) are going to control the administration of Prince’s estate. In a legal petition filed on April 26, 2016, by Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, Ms. Nelson stated that she did not know of the existence of a will signed by Prince. Because of this, no person currently has the legal right to act on behalf of his estate.
On April 15th, Denise Gorrell will be joining a group of panelists at Lewis & Clark Law School to discuss legal and policy issues that are involved in producing and providing the foods we eat. Food Fusion: Law’s Sustaining Role in Food is the second annual Food Law Forum. Visit the event website for more information and to register for this event.
Your time is valuable. You don’t need to be dealing with individuals or entities who have bad intentions or who are deceptive. You’re probably better off taking a vacation to the beach or the mountains than you are dealing with unscrupulous people. Take some time to learn about the party with whom you will be dealing before you obligate yourself or your company. You may find out that they aren’t who they claim to be.
In honor of Women’s History Month, join Emerging Leaders for a special evening celebrating women empowering women. SYK attorney Victoria Blachly will be among the guest speakers from professional, non-profit and political arenas sharing their experiences working on behalf of women, their perspectives on leadership and success, and their wisdom on what can be done to work towards a stronger future for Oregon.
SYK attorney and fiduciary litigator Victoria Blachly was featured recently in a KPTV news segment regarding an update to Oregon law.
Beginning next year, SB 1554 will allow legal access to digital assets. Read more about the laws of digital assets and the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Accounts Act (RUFADAA) in our recent article.