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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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can a court insist that you enter a plea and refuse to hear

Customer Question

can a court insist that you enter a plea and refuse to hear your witness statement or read it to provide back ground to your case and the reasons why you have been unable to carry out a proper defence( ie illness caused by prescribed drugs)
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

What is the nature of the case?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

speeding in 30mph zone in september 2012 in cornwall

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

fo rjomo1972 the case concerns exceeding the 30mph limit at pipers pool cornwall from october 2012 onwards I was ill from the side effects of a newly proscribed prescription drug, which I am not taking at this current time. the court hearing was on the 17th June 2013 at bodmin. I elected to represent myself. I asked the clerk if they had copies of my witness statement with regard to my health at the relevant time, and back up documents. he replied that they would not hear my statement, as soon as I tried to explain the chairperson asked the clerk whether there was any way he could ban me from driving(on medical grounds) the clerk advised the bench that there were NO grounds but the chair persisted and said that my illness was nothing of there concern; at this juncture the duty solicitor stood up and said if it pleased the court he would speak to me; this they allowed; his advice was they do not like you and you are winding them up; so though its not fair go back in and plead guiulty, otherwise the chair will find a back door way to ban you for 3 months. In the event i was fined £145.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

Can I presume that this was a first appearance not a trial date?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972 yes this was the first that I attended other dates prev to this were missed because I was unable to attend; my GP provided covering letters in each case, one was for the meds and the other for a foot problem I have which makes walking impossible. I was told by the bench to sit in the dock and asked how do I plead I said not guilty and started to try and explain when I was told this had nothing to do with them, it was at this point that I asked the clerk whether they had my statement and he said the court was going to hear this.It was at this point that thr chair said"can I ban him from driving for any reason" I tried again to explain my situation, and the reasons for my plea, but as i started the duty solicitor interjected into the proceedings, and they allowed this.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok.

I think this was a deferred first appearance from what you say.

A court can insist that you enter a plea. Ultimately it cannot make you plead but it can direct a not guilty plea on your behalf. It cannot direct a guilty plea but that isn't what happened here.

A court can refuse to hear irrelevant evidence which, I'm afraid, was their point about the medical evidence. If this is an allegation of speeding then your medical condition does not give you a defence.

They cannot ban you for medical reasons. The DVLA have to do that.

To be wholly honest, the duty solicitor gave you the right advise. If you were trying to defend this speeding offence on the basis that you were suffering from particular medical conditions then you would have been convicted after trial and also risk the DVLA revoking your licence for medical reasons.

I'm very sorry if this is bad news.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972 I did not try to say that my medical condition was the reason for the offence, the witness statement was proof of the fact that I had failed to attend because of this condition. I was also saying that because of the way these medicines treated me I was unable to process the various paperwork in any meaningful way, my submission if I had been listened to was that



  1. the process was never completed because of illness, such no fine, no points, just do a speed awareness course.

  2. any documents signed during this period Oct-April cannot be held against me, because I was ill.

  3. I had accepted a speed awareness course in Nov12; but was unable to commit to a date

  4. Also the photos show a very distorted picture ie a curvy road which was straight I understand that this may indicate a inaccuracy as the equipment was on the limit of its calibration period.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

The reason they wouldn't listen is that it has no relevance to the offence.

The only one that has the remotest relevance is the calibration issue and that is very weak.

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