WHY THE JUDGE’S SUMMING-UP?
You may well ask – after all wasn’t this the idiot who sent you or your friend down for no good reason? And haven’t you already read that you must forget everything that happened at the trial, all the arguments, all the nasty remarks by the judge?
Yes, of course – and that is the point. The judge’s summing up should contain all the evidence produced at the trial and that is what we need to know.
HOW ELSE CAN WE DEFINE WHAT "FRESH EVIDENCE" MIGHT BE?
In addition to this, it gives the reader a good idea of why the convict was found guilty, and the strength of the evidence brought to trial.
IT MAY ALSO TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT HOW GOOD THE DEFENCE SOLICITOR WAS – AND THE DEFENCE BARRISTER.
You need to know this because an early decision might well be whether a new solicitor should be found.
There is a problem with getting the judge's summing up. It does not get transcribed automatically. This is particularly so if your barrister or solicitor thinks you are actually guilty - one or the other will say there is no point in appealing against the conviction. If they put that in writing, you are more or less sunk. What remains at that time is the recording of the judge's summing up. Most courts have tape recorders - and the tapes are not wiped until 5 years after the conviction. So you have 5 years in which to find an excuse to get the summing up.
The solicitor will tell you that if you find "fresh evidence" he/she will be able to get legal aid so as to get the summing up transcribed. But how can you prove that something is "fresh evidence" if you do not already know what evidence was at the trial - and indeed what the judge thought was important? You can't.
You could pay for a summing up - if you are rich and can afford a few thousand pounds. Let us assume you are not rich - because if you were rich and innocent you would not be in the mess you are at the moment. You would have hired a barrister who would have taken great delight in leaving no stone un-turned in ensuring your future freedom.
The test of "fresh evidence" is so tight that you are unlikely to find any without the benefit of the judge's summing up, so you have to play cunning. You can change solicitor a lot - and then claim the judge's summing up was lost, or that you had legal aid for one, but it never transpired "lost in the post" etc. This is not likely to get you far - but, after all you desperately need that summing-up.
You might also play to the lawyer's weakness. This is underhand, but after all, it's all in the game.
Lawyers love points of law. They can bury themselves in their law books and read umpteen cases where the judges said this or that - and then go to court and demonstrate to the world that they know the law better than the stupid judge who presided over your case.
The favourite points of law that the judge can get wrong are:
1. He defined the law on this case wrongly. For example, he defined murder to the jury, but not manslaughter.
2. He left out a key witness in his summing up. In a big case, this is easy to do, particularly when a lot of them said more or less the same thing and looked alike.
3. He forgot to mention a key piece of evidence that was in your favour.
4. He did something during the trial that breached your rights under the Human Rights Act - particularly article 6, the right to fair trial process. This usually applies to the admissibility of evidence. There are rules that judges have to obey about what evidence they can allow into the courtroom and what they cannot. Hearsay is one well-known example. This is a minefield for judges - particularly when the prosecution introduce a "dodgy" piece of evidence over which there will be long arguments as to whether or not it can be used at the trial. In most cases the judge will send the jury out whilst the lawyers have their arguments. But sometimes he might be a bit late in taking that decision. - and the jury hears too much.
Now, you yourself are not going to be trusted if you argue that the judge got it wrong - see rule no. 7 on the front page - never blame a lawyer. After all, what the hell do you know about the law - did you go to Law School and sweat over all those books? No - so shut up.
But what if the solicitor hears that another lawyer has mentioned to you that the judge got it wrong - you can't remember exactly how, but there was something in what he said.
Suddenly your solicitor pricks up his/ her ears. A point of law the judge got wrong? What could it be? The only answer is to get the judge's summing up. You need that to see. Apply for legal aid - there's a career to be made here.
Oh what disappointment when it's discovered the judge was not so dumb after all ! But you get the summing-up - and that was the whole point of this exercise.
Always remember - you cannot re-investigate without the judge's summing up. And in this game, it's the opposition who hold it. So you have to box very clever to lever it out of their hands.