Today is a bit of an odd day, as I only had one lecture and as my tutorial was cancelled. So, I shall have very little to type about this time around.
We are continuing our exploration of types of homicide, with a focus on unlawful acts of manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter. I’m not going to go into the different tests for both and what main differences are (I hope that you can spot that in the name). Instead, I will talk about an idea concerning if acts are legal or illegal.
In the case of gross negligence manslaughter, it is up to the jury to determine if the act was grossly negligent. However, if you do not know [and cannot know] if your act is illegal at the time, is it fair to punish a person if they cannot be aware that what they are doing is punishable? My first instinct is no, of course of not. That would be retroactively creating punishments. Surely, there would be a mercy rule, where the first person would get a pass and onwards people would get punished for doing the same act (as we know it is illegal now). Then you start to think about it. And now you think differently ( I do at least). It’s how the common law system works. Rather than planning for every conceivable scenario, deal with them as they arise. Allows the legislator to be free and then gives responsibilities to the courts to sort this out (and if they disagree, they can legislate).
Let’s take a step back. When do things become illegal? When the courts decide? From the beginning of time? As far back as one is able to litigate (depending on limitations) and if so, can I prosecute on a deceased person’s behalf? Some arbitrary date? Admittedly, I don’t have an answer to this question (nor need to in the immediate future). However, I’m leaning towards the beginning of time. You can look at something and just ask, anyone with respect for another person would know is wrong. Sometimes, an apology won’t do.
The end of the week! And quite early for a release of my blog.
Today I had one of those marvellous 9am starts (seriously should be a criminal act against students) where we had a wonderful lecture about the loss of control and diminished responsibility, which is a partial defence against murder. And only murder, can’t say that I loosed control after necking down someone’s pint for a bet in a pub (and I know that some of the readers will be disappointed by that fact). The notable change over time is there have been more restrictions for the jurors before they are allowed to take this into account. This could make sense if there has been an abuse of the system, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a rise in the number of people using this defence over time. There are more people. Not that much of a jump to see an increase in a raw number of people having the issue. The one really great thing about this issue is the fact that I got here the lecturer say this quote out loud: “…his head was fucked up.”
I also had a tutorial in Contract Law today. We just went over the two questions set today, which are based on the concept of consideration. Nothing really that tricky and a simple idea. The only thing to take note off was the limited ways that one can evaluate contract law, there is an exhaustive list (which I am still compiling), which opens the door for analysis. This means that I should be able to tackle any question with this list memorised and a good knowledge of the cases. In regards to considerations, the one thing that you may wish to know is the difference between a conditional gift and a unilateral contract. A unilateral contract would require you to do something. So, let’s say that I would give all my readers $100* if it were sunny tomorrow. That would be a conditional gift. If I said that I wanted you to go somewhere sunny tomorrow; that would be a unilateral contract.
Finally, I had Public Law tutorial today, and it related to my visiting office hours yesterday. We went through some exam answers and what they did well and what needed improvement. However, looking at the workload for the next tutorial. Well, that’s
Another Friday entry written on the phone. Sorry for the spelling and grammar mistakes. (Hopefully I will not make this a habit. I dearly miss sleep)
Today I had just Criminal Law, with a lecture in the morning and then a tutorial in the afternoon.
In today’s lecture we continued with our look into Homicide, particularly in the sense of manslaughter. The actus reas is the same in murder, so what we explored is the difference in mens rea.
From a consequentialist view (totally not discussed this in class, nor in the same way) there is no difference between the two. However the Law takes more of a deontological view, in that the intentions do natter. However looking through the case law with Woollins and statutes regarding loss of control, this is not always the case. From Woollins, there was too large of scope to determine if the case was murder and in the areas regarding strict liability there seems to be a disregard for the mens rea in order to stop love (or in the words of the professor: luuuv) crimes being justified (such as infidelity causing loss of control). So the law seems to differ here and places normative values (nod to public law (total in joke) ) into the legal system, which I would argue should be left to the jury. Not the judge or parliamentarians to decide.
The tutorial is pretty much a continuation of the lecture, but we were given some feedback on the coursework we handed in. Apparently we were quite impressive, but I’ll wait and see when I get back my paper.
Also, almost done with my public law essay. So at least there’s that. However this weekend is all about the North London Derby!
Today we can call Criminal Law Day. As any student can attest, there is nothing better than a two lecture on a Friday morning at 9am. This was evident in the morning where most of the class were running into the lecture theatre.
We spent the lecture continuing on causation and looking at mens rea and actus rea. Just like tort law we only spend our time going through cases. However, there was a notable exception today in a lecture where our lecture ran from one corner of the hall to the centre and gave a fake kick. He was so full of joy, he did it again! It was otherwise just a standard lecture with no other significant points to mention other than I have continued with the card method to write down cases.
The day ended with a Criminal Law Tutorial (hence Criminal Law Day). We started off the class by going through a problem question together (that none of us seen) and going about the method to answer a question about criminal liability. While this was a beneficial part of the class, couldn’t help but wonder why this wasn’t done before. Oh well, c’est la vie. We then went onto the tutorial questions set for this week.
So that’s one more week done. Thank you for the continuing support.
Today was Criminal Law day. An early morning start (especially in terms for a student) for a two-hour lecture which is visibly more empty than usual as I was able to place some stuff next to me. Then a couple of hours later, into the tutorial. While there can be an advantage of having the class a few hours after by having the ideas fresh in your head; I don’t enjoy having class so close to lectures. Unlike this blog, I do not have the time to digest the material that has been taught to me. While I won’t have this every week, this is still a bit of a nuisance for me.
In the lecture, I am learning Latin and how to spell in Latin on the fly; phrases such as sine qua non & novus actus interveniens. Half the time I am staring at someone’s laptop while they are searching the term (I write on paper, as the exams are written), leaving me to play catch up what the lecturer is saying. So, sine qua non is just a way saying that there is a causal link between the defendant’s actions and the claimant’s injury. And novus actus interveniens is just a way of saying that there is a new intervening act between the initial crime of the defendant and the claimant. The main point to take from this is that we need to ensure that when convicting someone, they are not being sentenced for something they didn’t commit, but also that they are getting a fair sentence. For example, if I was stabbed by Mike in hand and decided not to get any more treatment, thus get a blood infection and die as a result, then is Mike responsible for my death? Morally, probably; but in legal terms, as I didn’t decide to get a wound checked out, I committed the actus reus that killed me. Don’t worry about Mike though, he should still be charged with gross bodily harm for the stabbing.
Regarding the class, it was an introductory lecture (thankfully the last one), and we just went over the course, what is expected of us etc. Nothing new.
With it being Friday, I’ll call that a week. Thanks again for the support.
Criminal Law was back on the agenda today, and it tied in Tort Law quite well as the main topic of the lecture was omission and commission regarding the duty of care. With this in mind, I am not going to bore you with more details about the duty to care, and it’s Friday night. The main difference is the cases explored and the criminal law going through the various exceptions of when there is an omission, much faster.
While I was due to have a contract tutorial, it was postponed until further notice, and that just leaves us with the tutorial in public law which I shall flesh out. This week we had a kind introductory look into the constitution ideas and what determines them. We didn’t go through a point that is made in political theory about the social contract. The gist of the social contract is the normative rules of a society that members of the community endorse. The conventional view of the social contract (though it can be traced further back) is one of consent. This is leaving the State of Nature (associated with Hobbes in Western Philosophy), and in part of moving from the chaos (Hobbesian), we consent to the joining the rules of the polity. This view is also discussed by Locke and Rousseau and is the mainstream view in political theory until Kant (and more recently Rawls) brought some validity to contractualist view. In class, we only glossed over the consent view as being the prevailing view; which it is not. The Rawlsian view is currently very popular with his theory of justice being derived from the veil of ignorance in the original position. The contractualist view is the idea of using thought experiments and practical reasoning to form an agreement via deliberation. While this sounds really similar to consent, there is a big difference, which is regarding duties. If one consent (and essentially forced to obey) it creates a duty, the contractualist viewpoint of the agreement does not create a duty allowing for more alterations.
We also talked about electing judges, like some US states (and I think Bolivia citation needed). Just to some up the conclusion: no, don’t elect judges. Keep them above politics to help ensure an independent judiciary within democratic societies. (this is not saying that the appointed system is perfect).
Otherwise, have a good weekend. And thanks for the continuous support.
Today was the first day of Criminal law, the one that we (or at least I) first associated with the law. I am going to give some Kudos to my old housemate Nathan for pointing out the amount of Latin and saying the same thing as my lecturer, just two years prior. Lawyers like Latin [to help justify the fees]. Actus Reus and Mens Rea were brought up several times in today’s lecture. Today’s lecture was more of a general overview of the course, and we didn’t really get into any substantive topics, but I’ll quickly mention a thought on autonomous that I spoke to my old lecturer Tom Cornford about. The question is, are we really independent? We can not control our thoughts, they happen to manifest themselves in our own minds. I have yet to say to myself, thought and then bam! New thought. Maybe I’m missing out on something. The reason I bring up this idea is the notion of involuntary manslaughter. As we are never in full control, can we ever be said to be in control of our own actions? Dr Cornford answered my question succinctly: Try and be smart in court and the judge will probably be harsher towards you. The answer to my question is quite obvious then; it might not be full autonomy, but this does not mean that we are totally incapacitated to make decisions to some degree.
I also had my second lecture in public law. Today we focused on parliamentary sovereignty (in the British sense). It was engaging to see the view of what I have always considered a political concept from a legal perspective. Going through the Diceyan orthodoxy for me was what I was taught in political science. Parliament is sovereign. Nothing is above it. But why? There is nothing to cement this (though there is a case from 1707, the act of the Union), essentially in legal terms parliament is sovereign because it is. Yes, a tautology, but there is no legal source of power. We could change that through a revolution, but as there is no legal basis, we cannot change it through legal means. This may make you think, what can parliament not do? Essentially, it can do whatever it wants. In class, we were asked can parliament bind itself? Well, the lasting Diceyian view is no. This troubles me as the house can say that I am slave, vote for it and pass by a majority of 1. And thus I am a slave. Some fundamental rights should be away from the political whim of parliament, let alone how do we deal with it having power. While I am sure that any government will not do such a thing if it has no intention to use its power this way, then why give it the authority in the first place? Maybe it’s time for a political revolution on rights?