A “legitimate question” for Cherie Booth?

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  • Excellent first article! Very interesting and clear explanation of the situation.

    Can't wait for the next one!

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  • I agree that the sentence was probably in line with what was to be expected from any judge, regardless of the religion question. Whether or not I think that sentence is morally right is not at issue here.
    I must, however, disagree with your "ruling on meaning" regarding the judge's remarks. Her statement makes a distinction between a religious person and a non-religious one, even if the latter was not mentioned explicitly. The implication was clearly that a religious person could expect greater leniency than a non-religious person for the same crime. This I find unacceptable, even if in this case it might not have made any difference to the sentence.
    That the religion question was brought up by the judge when it was not pleaded in mitigation seems bizarre, and it is to the credit of the defence solicitor that he has queried this. There is surely a need for some very clear guidance from above that religious belief (or, equally, lack of it) can not be taken as mitigation for any crime, and the judge should at least be publicly criticised for muddying the judicial waters in this way.

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  • Tres interessant. J'ai un question: pourquoi dirat M Blair ces mots pendant le jugement? I sink eet ees because she wanted to make un point. She sinks les religieux sont superieurs. She made ze sentencing properly but she wanted to make un point sur les matieres religieux. Eet is still merde.

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  • Sir, you are missing the salient point of the 'outcry' as to Booths' comments and that is the fact that she was of the opinion that a person of religious persuasion, albeit different to her own, is somehow more moral than a person without religion.
    As far as the view of secular people in society she may have well have said "And I see you drive a Ford Fiesta and therefore..."
    The problem is the fact that she that she brought religion into it at all and nothing to do with sentencing guidelines.

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  • Like the curate's egg: good in parts --- the law, not the column.

    I will be a regular reader.

    Thanks.

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  • A very good, well-balanced and reasoned analysis and I am left quite happy that Mrs Booth did not show undue leniency in this case.
    Regarding your final question - "why did she mention the defendant’s religious beliefs at all?"- my personal belief (and this is entirely subjective) is that she was simply exploiting the situation to promote religious piety as a superior moral stance: her religious convictions, and those of her husband, are after all very well-documented. I don't think this judgment was affected by her beliefs, but just provided an opportunity for some surreptitious evangelism.
    I think she'd be wise to be more circumspect about mentioning the R-word in future, however...

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  • Refreshingly different take on the story. Fascinating and informative.

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  • A useful analysis for the layperson like me.
    Its good to see that Ms Booth followed appropriate guidelines, after all its what one would expect from someone of her seniority. However she must have made her comments knowing they would probably be picked up by the press. This seems unwise to me as it seems to bring the law into disrepute.

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  • Taking the remarks as reported (as is the only reasonable starting point in commenting on this situation) two factors are mentioned in suspending the sentence:
    1) being a religious person; and
    2) not having been in trouble before.
    This is a clear statement that the man's religion was a factor in the judge's decision. How much impact each factor had is irrelevant. The principle being set out by the judge is that being religious meant the defendant deserved more lenient treatment.
    The statement “You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour" would appear to me more relvant to establishing a guilty mindset of a man who knew he was doing wrong!

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  • Very enjoyable first article. Found it very interesting and educational, hope you can keep this standard up.

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