Sunday, 27 May 2007

British justice at its best?

Read these sentencing remarks by Mr Justice Silber in the sad case of R v Lund, and then consider the 'leniency' of the sentence imposed.

It does make you wonder......

17 comments:

Jose said...

It's really shocking how the human brain works when unbalanced. Schyzophrenia is, however, a treatable illness. Cases are known where persons, duly treated, may have a long stable life. I don't know whether that was so for Ms Lund.

All in all, there is here a dilemma to be solved: the right of a person to die whenever they so decide. Is a person the "owner" of their lives? Can one commit suicide if one so wishes?

And, most important, is the person who wants to die entitled to the help of somebody else?

I see we are still "in nappies" as to what is the most correct, human or legal way to proceed in these cases.

Why our societies consider suicide as an ignominious action?

anticant said...

A good question!

Until the 18th century - maybe later - a suicide was denied Christian burial, and was sometimes buried at a crossroads with a stake driven through their heart.

Yes - I do believe that we are the proprietors of our own lives and bodies. It is a constant struggle to fend off all the predatory assaults upon our personal integrity.

We should have the human right to decide when to end our lives, and receive appropriate assistance - sanctified and strictly monitored by the state - to do so.

Opposition to such a law comes [of course] from religious quarters, who thereby inflict much misery upon terminally ill people, and impose anxious ethical dilemmas upon humane, conscientious doctors.

Emmett said...

ARCHETYPAL Psychologist James Hillman in his first important book, /Suicide and the Soul/ (1964), points out that /both/ religious and legal opinion are lay in the face of the psychic fact of suicide.

BOTH Are necessarily flawed by extraversion; and, to begin, the religious argument is that one must await outwardly an act of God in order to die properly; the foe is, precisely, self-will (which, in competiton with theology, would deal forever and ever, and for preference always, with irrealities).

IN Law, an affair between physically distinct & hence constitutionally individual bodies, suicide is a crime inasmuch a dis-animated body is produced outside of (/sic/) natural causes, just war or judicial murder; here, between out feet, there be /corpus delicti/, for which a legal explanation must be established.

BOTH The religious and the legal cases are collective; they speak not to the dead, /eg/, but to the (gaping!) /Daily Mail/-readers.

AS To the religious argument, clearly it is not anywhere as illustrative of the actual potential intentions of God & Goddess as it is of our present state of extraverted cultural confusion:

IN Other words, a brick falling from off of unbelieving Mr Anticant's ill-mended parapet and doing Ms Lave one fatally in the head is an act of God, doubtless; and, 'tis one for which, indeed, the aggrieved heirs, who discover all of a sudden how much they 'really' loved Ms L, are entitled in the laws of northern men to seek damages -- if not off of Goddess & her ilk, then most certainly off of the hapless & atheistical Mr A!

WESTERN & Other-directed, epimethean and hence miserable-always, theology can have no use for the idea that God may very well one day whisper seductively in Mr Wook's ear: 'Alright, my boy, this IS it -- you've mucked it up just once too often and screwed the pooch eftsoons & now 'tis time for you, my lad -- to do the Jap! Whereas, aegyptian-like, the psychiatrists, of course, will blame it all on Mummy...!'

AFTER All, if the inner voice be not ruled out (and called 'not natural') by the prostatic old drip-doctors of a paedophiliac ecclaesium, it (!) is perfectly capable of coming along, later, and saying jolly & insinuant, slick persuasive, stuff -- such as:

'ALRIGHT, Lads -- time for a NEW revelation! Mecca is THAT way -- now, snap it up!'

IN Other words, from the social viewpoint of a herd of mammals miserably trapped in separate bodies that be forever trying to overcome spasmodically their agonising distinctness; and, that by non-stop fornications, rapes & hands-to-throat murders -- anything to relieve the un-Godly loneliness! -- the /fact/ of suicide betokens, and that precisely:

A Desertion has taken place.

THIS Is a real & legitimate concern of our common human being. It may be that one sides with the gentleman cited, who for love indeed did help off his wife; as well, however, one knows full well that other weaker heads among the footer-headed readership will grasp at leniency to advance dubieties.

HENCE, The magistrate did as best he could, to serve the tangled right of the matter in all its faces:

IN Trimming the sentence as much he did; and, yet, letting be honoured as well the defendant's own need to make amends, for three years.

THIS Three years will pass swiftly enough, I daresay; it is not a matter after all of where they be spent -- but, rather, of /how/. The sort of love we have seen attested in this case, when lost, is not any less anguished in 'freedom'; and, grief is not made the sharper by any cell, if we but pause and think carefully on what should be our own responses to such a pass, in each our own lives.

THE Psyche is both personal and collective -- the voice can command as well from within as without. And, as the mahometan Sufis say, when the regenerate man has really listened to Allah (/sic/) & obeyed, then he can turn refreshed in love to his other duties, to the mob, with a calm heart:

THE Meaning of the lives of all of the judgemental & theocratic, gaping, onlookers is, as well, in the care & keeping of such a loving offender as that man who helped his wife out of this and into foreverness.

/Amin/

'abd an-Nafs

anticant said...

For once, I detect a whiff of inhumanity in the Wookian ruminations.

To say "what matters is not WHERE the three years are spent, but HOW", blithely ignores the reality of life in our overcrowded, poorly disciplined, and brutalising prison system. The "how" of this poor man's next three years - if he survives them - will be vastly different in a prison environment to outside.

I hope that on reflection Sheriff Wook will agree.

Emmett said...

OF Course I think that prisons should be made penitentiaries in the 18th century & ideal sense (never achieved, alas!) -- my point is that, comparatively, the outer miseries, at least some of the time, do /not/ loom as large in the mind & feelings as whatever may be the heart of the matter in ones innermost life. And, alas, there does remain the need, in law, to /balance/ these inner & outer obligations. For the rest, embedded in what you are saying, I think, is the assertion that the gentleman may be thrown in with others not only brutalised, but also not of his class: I perceive that he is a man, very possibly, who may be able to make sense of it all & that he will be a personality of value /wherever he be placed/ by existence in the course of his duties to the common life. I do send him every power it is mine to avail in thought & meditation -- I can relieve him no more of the burden of his self than I can just dump off at the bethel my own. The tale is by no means at an end, in any case, and I think we all may be well-repaid in our thought, to send to the man all of our love & affection, from afar as may be. At the end of the day, it does seem to be a matter always, of something or other that 'I' don't like & don't want. This man's great advantage is to have followed his heart & I do wish him well, Wook For A Fact!

anticant said...

Yes - of course I realise that is what you meant. But in almost 50 years' involvement in active legal and social work, I have never met anyone who honestly believed that they had been "improved" by a prison sentence, or whom I considered had been.

The prison systems in both UK snd USA are disgrace for so-called 'civilised' democracies - quite apart from your Guantanamos and renditions.

In cases such as this, surely prison is a wholly inappropriate punishment. The Judge, having adverted to all the mitigating factors, could have sentenced him
to fifteen days, served retrospectively. I hope he will appeal against this harsh sentence.

Emmett said...

WELL, Now, had the judge followed your line, and given the thorny problem so many have as yet with the struggle /not/ to mind other people's business, do you suppose so? that fifteen days served should have been the end of it....

I Rather think not:

GIVEN What the Crown Persecution Service is like, in these post-bliarean days, I should say that, had /this/ judge been as decent as you propose, that the God-damned /young/ careerists of CPS -- with /their/ appeals -- would then have made of the life of the accused a living Hell of uncertainty for the next three years; and, /then/, only to have seen him flung into the henhouse for good & long!

AGAIN, We do not know much of it beyond the projection of our own preferences:

I, no more than you, should care for imprisonment. However, the gentleman in question may well have access to reserve of imaginal courage & strength not readily-perceptible to us. At least that is what I hope to hear that he shall have found in the days ahead; and, really, for the sake of us all.

WE, Here & on the outside, can give him our sympathy of thought, indeed -- but, that sympathy had ought to embrace & contain /for him/ more than just our pity (which, finally, is for ourselves); and, we can avail him as well the dignity of respecting his fate & admiring his already-evident moral courage.

Wook, Tediously

anticant said...

Alas, we are unlikely to hear any more of this gentleman.

There's an old legal saying: "hard cases make bad law".

This is a thoroughly bad law, and I am a strong supporter of the campaign to change it -

http://www.dignityindying.org.uk

Jose said...

Indeed all this is a question of principles. The principle applied by the Judge lies fundamentally on the written law, with ammendments whereby he diminished the penalty, but the flaw altogether is in the principle that created the law.

There shouldn't be any law against this exercise of a free will.

I detect doubts in the Judge's sentence . His spirit may have been against condemning the defendant, but the law prevented him from doing so. The law itself has a way out in these cases: when in doubt the defendant must be acquitted.

The Judge did not attain inner peace with this sentence, I am sure. As Anticant says life in prison is nothing to long for.

The Judge in my opinion should have exercised his privileges to acquit him, otherwise there's a tinge of dishonour in his behaviour.

He might have made history.

anticant said...

The Judge could not have acquitted, as the defendant had been found guilty by a jury. But he could have exercised greater leniency - including a conditional discharge.

Emmett said...

THE Great difficulty is that there is a body for which an accounting must be made & responsibility for the production of which be assigned -- and the coronal finding of /suicide/ means, therefore, a crime has happened, within the meaning of the statute. Suicide is a crime in law & hence to abet or assist suicide makes culpable the abettor, /even were there no other law against any other form of murther in the whole corpus of the law/!

THE Problem, we agree, is with the fact that suicide /is/ a crime.

WHAT Is not so readily perceived is that suicide is enormously difficult of legalisation precisely because it as often as not requires assistance; and, any assistant is vulnerable to charges, be it of capital murther; or, of a manslaughter.

THERE Is a burthen of guilt in law, at present, assigned /both/ the one who dies by their own hand & that person, or persons, who assist same; rightly, the law-lords be chary of interfering, I think, because the great problem for any jury & judge (save Judge Jeffries!) hereinafter must, then, be to determine /when/ an apparent suicide was volitional -- and, when it may be that pervs & slashers are in perjury clamant:

'I Was just 'elping out me mate!'

GIVEN The bloody-mindedness of /this/ jury (unimaginative & utterly-unempathic creatures of state-school 'multi-culturalism' & generalised buggery, one and all!), my feeling is, indeed, that the judge 'should' have uttered the conditional discharge as a matter of plain feeling -- and, into the bargain, told off the twelve fat-faced vestrymen & unemployed butchers' assistants for a load of cunts, oh, to be sure:

'YOU Detestable load of cunts...!'

HOW One longs for /that/ passage to find standing, in Coke & Annals!

BUT, As I understand the law, /conditional discharge/ is no precedent; and, thus, does not assist the constitutional problem; nor will it avail, not of any incremental gain for equity: /that/ neither in the understanding, nor the interpretation, of statute(s).

[IN the States, we do have a ninth amendment that, in principle, empowers /juries/ to pass on statutes & throw out (!) criminal bills brought by over-ambitious prosecutorial-assholes on the basis of statutes juries may find, as a lay-matter, 'unconstitutional'. Needless to say, there is not a judge in the country who goes out of their way to brief empanelled bodies of /this/ right.]

Wook, CC [/retd/] & Squawbunion County (MN) Justice of the Peace & Public Notary

anticant said...

Emmett, suicide has not been a crime in the UK since 1961. Assisting a suicide is still a crime, and numerous attempts to change this law have been strenuously opposed by 'pro-life' advocates - the usual religious bunch who support 'just wars' and [sometimes] capital punishment.....

In 2002 a British woman, Diane Pretty, who was in the advanced stages of motor neurone disease and wanted her husband to be immune from prosecution if he helped her to die, lost her case before the European Court of Human Rights and died a natural death in a hospice a few days later, maintaining that the law had taken all her rights from her. The case aroused lot of sympathy, and the campaign for voluntary euthanasia continues.

Puzzle: why is it that those who believe there is an another life after this one, and that it will be so much better, are so strenuously opposed to the right to choose the time and manner of one's own death? Logically, they should be tumbling over themselves to hasten their arrival in paradise.

Emmett said...

SORRY, I put up a real potpourri of English & US law, this time -- my blushes & /bon appetit/ (grin!).

(I Have an old set of Blackstone kicking around here, which is as about as up-to-date as /I/ am!)

HOWEVER, In the old law it was still a problem, still is /here/ -- and, we agree I think, the paradox is evident, in 'de-criminalising' the volition of the self-intended corpse, but not the assistant(s). Ah, well, 'life is sacred', as they say whilst shovelling out the bomblets on the heads of the iraqi orphans.

AND, As you note, above...why is it that those who believe there is an another life after this one, and that it will be so much better, are so strenuously opposed to the right to choose the time and manner of one's own death? Logically, they should be tumbling over themselves to hasten their arrival in paradise.

INDEED -- I ,too, perceive that there's lots to come down the line, so to speak -- plus, it would be a whole lote more effing pleasant if these fundamentalist quacks would just piss off and get out of the way me & my horses. Here, in the country, it is positively /dangerous/ to go down the gravelled township road pulling a traction mower or hay-rake behind ones old punch pony, as one is within an ace of being run into the ditch by one of the Christian & Zyklon-B Agchem & Battleship-Sized God-Damn Gargantuan Field Equipment neighbours -- who all go to church, mainly to pray that Jesus will NOT singe their scabby fat arses for poisoning the Earth. (Only they call it praying for victory in Iraq', the self-deceiving God-damned reptiles!)

ANYWAY, You all have loads of fun & do NOT pee in the lake whilst bathing!

Grandpa

PS: What is a good 'on-line' British library, of /current/ law & statutes -- I can see where I need to polish the knob a bit, as they say?)

anticant said...

Hello Emmett,

The Suicide Act of 1961 was piloted through parliament by a very good friend of mine, Kenneth Robinson - now long dead, alas - who was a most civilised person and also a stalwart advocate of gay law reform, abortion law reform, and other liberalising measures. He afterwards went on to become Minister of Health in Harold Wilson's cabinet.

My abiding memory of Kenneth is of his answer at a meeting to someone who asked him why he always chose to be in the forefront of such controversial campaigns. He said: "I have always thought that if you tell your constituents what you honestly believe, they will respect you for it, whether they agree or not."

A pity there aren't more like him today!

The data base for British Statutes is:

1) The official Statute Law Database at

http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/Home.aspx

(Statutes as amended)


2) Recent acts (from 1988) are at

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts.htm

(Statutes as passed)


3) See also the British And Irish Legal Information site at

http://www.bailii.org/

Thanks for the good wishes. I've every intention of enjoying myself enormously. The change from semi-confinement to home will be an immense relief. Though I don't swim, I may well indulge in some thermal baths.

anticant said...

Further to the above, I think the retention of criminal penalites for those assisting a suicide was a sop to the religious opposition - who are always so terrified that some evil person will murder them for their money [or whatever] if they can get away with it. I suppose being 'saved' from their own original sin makes them all the more conscious of the unredeemed nature of others!

Like all such concessions [as in the homosexual reform bill], this has caused endless bother ever since, and necessitates the ongoing campaign for voluntary euthanasia.

My own viewpoint on all these politically difficult and electorally hazardous reforms is that once you have worked up the necessary head of steam to get a bill through its main stages, you might as well go the whole hog and include everything you really want in it, because nothing you do will placate the opposition's hostility to the main thrust of the measure so stick out for the whole shopping list. But many more influential than I am disagreed with me.

Jose said...

Curiously enough those against assisted death are also against abortion and are also those whose daughters are made to travel abroad to have those abortions their parents home vociferously protest against. My experience.

There should be laws against hypocrisy. And strong ones for that matter.

Emmett said...

JOSE! My goodness, why ever should you even WANT to legislate against our finest quality as a critter?

DON'T You know that /hypocrisy/ is, precisely, our TRUEST form of human being?

NOW Settle down & have another slug of armagnac, and you'll be just fine....

Wook, Neo-shamanist & Vinous Medicaments Specialist