Another "interesting" court decision

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brianleach
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Another "interesting" court decision

Postby brianleach » 21 Nov 2013, 9:45am

http://www.roadjustice.org.uk/case-stud ... -a19-23112

Not much detail but again on the face of it words fail me.

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squeaker
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby squeaker » 21 Nov 2013, 10:32am

brianleach wrote:http://www.roadjustice.org.uk/case-study/cyclist-killed-collision-lorry-a19-23112

Not much detail but again on the face of it words fail me.
+1 :(
"42"

TonyR
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby TonyR » 21 Nov 2013, 10:34am

Not really. In the face of what appears to be a lot of conflicting information the juries could not reach a view that was beyond reasonable doubt. Its disappointing but a central tenet of our justice system is that its better to have a few of the guilty go free because of reasonable doubt than to punish innocent people by mistake.

MartinC
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby MartinC » 21 Nov 2013, 10:48am

brianleach wrote:http://www.roadjustice.org.uk/case-study/cyclist-killed-collision-lorry-a19-23112

Not much detail but again on the face of it words fail me.


These cases are always distressing. I've read in a press report of the the court case that the lorry driver was tried twice but neither jury could agree on a verdict so he was acquitted. Apparently there were no witnesses bar the lorry driver and the dead cyclist. The expert witnesses couldn't agree on exactly where the collision occurred either. In these circumstances it's not surprising to me that both juries couldn't reach a verdict.

As cyclists we're often tempted to assume that we know what happened and what the verdict and sentecnce should be. But due process doesn't and shouldn't rely on our assumptions. I'm not particularly defending this defendant or even this particular verdict just that the process seems to have been applied fairly.

iviehoff
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby iviehoff » 21 Nov 2013, 11:23am

brianleach wrote:...but again on the face of it words fail me.

Of course it is terrible, but there is a clear pattern and you should at least be unsurprised by now.

There was a case sometime back in Essex or Suffolk or the like where a driver fatally rear-ended a cyclist on a major dual carriageway in conditions of excellent visibility and light traffic. This driver was found guilty of cdbcd but the quantity of detail required from eyewitnesses to prove that the cyclist was perfectly visible and maintained his line, and that this driver had simply not seen it when there was no excuse for it and driven over him, was large. Normally such detail will not be available and any hint that the bicycle might not have been very clearly visible, or the cyclist might have varied their line, is likely to result in a not guilty verdict if the case is contesed. This is not going to change until someone changes the law to place a greater burden of responsibility on motorists to avoid hitting cyclists. The fact that the highway code mentions the possibilty of cyclists being less visible than motorcars and having atendency to wobble is not sufficient to prevent these factors being used in defence or mitigation of proscution.

One of the curious factors about the case is that there is CCTV evidence that the bike had front and rear lighting, yet other drivers who passed him report seeing no rear light. I wonder if it had gone out since he set off on that trip, possibly even without his knowledge. This is part of the reason that I routinely use two lights front and rear. Not a legal requirement, but in practice a useful precaution in trying to stay alive. But my practical experience of coming up behind cyclists on dark roads is that reflective clothing is often far more visible than their legal lights, and visible from a long distance away. I expect that any awake driver sodding well should have seen it.

It remains the case that roads like this are a major source of cycling deaths. Sensible cyclists will look for another route.

MartinC
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby MartinC » 21 Nov 2013, 1:36pm

We seem to be discussing the same issue in several threads.

My opinion is that the criminal justice system is biased against cyclists (and/or maybe biased in favour of car drivers - not necessarily the same thing). I see this in the Police not following up incidents they should, CPS not prosecuting when the should or pursuing lesser charges and in perverse verdicts and sentencing from courts.

I don't think a knee jerk response that the motorist has got away with it in every case is helpful. It becomes special pleading. Justice is indivisible - you have to argue for justice for everybody or you're not arguing for justice at all. We should concentrate on the cases where we can objectively demonstrate some bias or at least justify the complaint i.e. where we can show that the verdict or sentence is out of line with the established details of the case.

Convicting people for crimes places the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt on the prosecution. By their very nature many of the cases we see have no independent witnesses (sadly even the victim is often unable to provide an account), no other objective evidence or conflicting versions to what really happened. For these case it's unreasonbable to expect a magistrate or jury to always return a guilty verdict. Arguing that cyclists should have special treatment and that a lesser proof is requied doesn't help our case at all.

If I had infinite resources I would spend about 10 years collecting and documenting all the cases were we can objectively show the criminal justice system falling short and pursue the UK Government through Human Rights legislation (i.e. that that we've subscribed too through the EU) because I believe you could then show that our (cyclists) Right to Life was being infringed. But neither I nor the CDF have those resources.

Someone here a while ago (Thirdcrank IIRC) suggested that it might be more prodcutive to pursue these things as driving standards issues rather than through the criminal law. This sounds good to me. An administrative process which automatically (with an appeals process) revoked (permanently or with a retest) driving licences based on responsoibility or involvement in different kinds of accidents would get the bad drivers off the road and concentrate the minds of the rest. E.g. automatic loss of licence after causing a fatal accident, retest after being involved in 3 accidents of any kind, etc. I'm not sure this is achievable - the right to drive is deeply ingrained here as is the view that safety is somebody else's job.

I'm actually very sceptical that anything can be changed by us - we live in a car culture here. To my mind there are 2 factors that will maybe change things:

Our unsustainable car based transport will break down because it just runs out of room (congestion) and we'll be forcred to look at alternatives. This may happen sooner in London if cyclists give up and take to public transport and their cars.

Insurance costs will drive automatic logging and limiting of driving styles and ultimately driverless cars.

iviehoff
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby iviehoff » 21 Nov 2013, 2:48pm

MartinC wrote:We seem to be discussing the same issue in several threads.

And I think we are basically singing from the same hymnsheet. The outcomes of the cases are not so surprising when you consider the law and the system; clearly the system need to be fixed. I just got slightly annoyed with you in a recent thread for quoting me and then affecting to disagree with me, when in fact you were disagreeing with something I hadn't said.

MartinC
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby MartinC » 21 Nov 2013, 3:49pm

Iviehoff, apologies, I obviously got hold of the wrong end of the stick at some point. It's too easy to conflate points from several posts or to extrapolate too much.

Postboxer
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby Postboxer » 21 Nov 2013, 4:26pm

What's interesting is that two juries were presumably given the same evidence yet neither could agree, so each had several jurors saying guilty and several not guilty. This means that continuing with more trials statistically, eventually he would be found guilty or not-guilty and if you continued with further trials the verdict would be reversed.

This means that some people must be either unlucky or lucky when a jury reaches a verdict that 99 out of 100 juries wouldn't reach. This seems unfair but I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done about it. They should be concentrating on the one thing that doesn't lie, the evidence and therefore you would hope every juror would reach the same conclusion.

thirdcrank
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby thirdcrank » 21 Nov 2013, 4:32pm

Three points, (unless I think of more while typing. :oops: )

1/ The charge was causing death by careless driving. Remember the definition of careless driving in this context:-

3ZA Meaning of careless, or inconsiderate, driving
...
(2)A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
(3)In determining for the purposes of subsection (2) above what would be expected of a careful and competent driver in a particular case, regard shall be had not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.


http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/52/section/3ZA

That's an addition to the original RTA 1988 (which is why it's 3ZA) Presumably intended to add clarity but it's an invitation to the jury to think "there but for fortune" especially with some thespianism from a defence barrister.

2/ I have said that I think our CJ system has passed its sell-by date. They seem to handle things better in much of Europe.

3/ I don't think that killing somebody is suitable for administrative disposal of the case. What I've suggested from time to time is that if administrative action eg suspension of driving licence pending retraining, were taken against people who go round bumping into things like street furniture, driving standards would be improved and there'd be fewer fatal crashes.

MartinC
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby MartinC » 22 Nov 2013, 9:48am

thirdcrank wrote:3/ I don't think that killing somebody is suitable for administrative disposal of the case. What I've suggested from time to time is that if administrative action eg suspension of driving licence pending retraining, were taken against people who go round bumping into things like street furniture, driving standards would be improved and there'd be fewer fatal crashes.


Apologies for misrepresenting the detail of what you'd suggested. It was you who came up with general suggestion though so ICMFP! :D

Yes, you're right, in a death or injury case the whole thing shouldn't be disposed of administratively. There is scope for both this and criminal law to operate in parallel.

I've never thought the whole thing through in detail but I think your idea is good and could improve things for everyone. One part that I think is valauable is the retest part. Making a driver take a retest to me is an easier proposition to implement and apply because no-on can claim they're being deprived of their licence - they just need to demonstrate their competence again.

thirdcrank
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby thirdcrank » 22 Nov 2013, 10:27am

From my POV, I think the most important proposal I've made on here, and one which seems unlikely to be implemented, is to have psychological suitability to drive considered in addition to technical competence. Any suggestion of a tendency to violence renders somebody unsuitable to hold licensed firearms, but no matter how short someone's fuse, it doesn't directly affect their freedom to drive.

MartinC
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby MartinC » 22 Nov 2013, 1:13pm

TC, yes and not just the propensity to violence but probably more importantly, the attitude to risk taking. People might learn to bluff their way through a questionairre but a simulator (i.e. video game) type test would be harder to fool.

Shootist
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby Shootist » 22 Nov 2013, 1:25pm

iviehoff wrote:Not a legal requirement, but in practice a useful precaution in trying to stay alive.


Words that should be burned into the brain of every cyclist. No good being in the right if you're in the casket.
Pacifists cannot accept the statement "Those who 'abjure' violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.", despite it being "grossly obvious."
[George Orwell]

Shootist
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Re: Another "interesting" court decision

Postby Shootist » 22 Nov 2013, 1:27pm

thirdcrank wrote:From my POV, I think the most important proposal I've made on here, and one which seems unlikely to be implemented, is to have psychological suitability to drive considered in addition to technical competence. Any suggestion of a tendency to violence renders somebody unsuitable to hold licensed firearms, but no matter how short someone's fuse, it doesn't directly affect their freedom to drive.


I wrote an article once about the comparison between forearms licensing and car licensing. There would be a damned sight fewer cars on the road if cars were licensed in the same manner as firearms, and why not, given the death rate on the roads?
Pacifists cannot accept the statement "Those who 'abjure' violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.", despite it being "grossly obvious."
[George Orwell]