Rupert Jones, Member of the Young Barristers’ Committee
Chambers: Citadel Chambers
Year of Call: 2011
Practice Area: Criminal & Media Law
I catch the train to Birmingham, which is where my chambers is based, but my work takes me to courts all across the Midlands.
I arrive in Chambers and access the digital case file for the wounding with intent trial, in which I act as the prosecutor. I’d never been on the case before, but was instructed last-minute. This is completely normal and you soon get used to absorbing huge amounts of information in a very short space of time. I go through the papers one last time, and finalise my notes.
As well as prosecuting the trial, I’ve got two other hearings. I’m making a bail application and a plea in mitigation (defending a sentence).
I walk over to Birmingham Crown Court and head to the robing room, where I sign in electronically. The room is full of familiar faces – I can’t remember the last time I went into any court and didn’t recognise someone. It’s one of the great things about the Bar. I make the most of it by taking some time out to chat to a friend about football the latest legal issue.
I speak to witness care. I am informed that the prosecution witnesses have arrived, so I make my way over to them, to introduce myself.
Afterwards, I try to find my client who is being sentenced for Affray. His mum is with him, and it is evident that they are both nervous. I have a quick chat and try to put them both at ease by pointing out the mitigating facts of the case. He’s a young man with no previous convictions, and the pre-sentence report recommended a suspended sentence. This is helpful but you can’t guarantee the Judge will agree.
The defence barrister in the trial approaches me outside court to inform me that his client is thinking about pleading guilty, but puts forward a slightly different version of events. We discuss it – the difference between his account and the prosecution case is so minimal that it’s unlikely to make any difference to the sentence. In any event, I phone the CPS lawyer to update and get their view on the matter.
I’m called into court for the bail application. My client is refused bail. I call the solicitors to let them know.
My sentence hearing is called, and in court, my client gets a suspended sentence. This is a relief to him, and his mum can hardly contain herself and bursts out in tears.
I go and speak to the witnesses about the proposed basis of plea. They have no issues with it. I pass this information back to the CPS lawyer.
The trial is called. The defendant pleads guilty on a basis which the prosecution have accepted, and the Judge is satisfied. The defendant is sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
I head back to chambers, eat some lunch and catch up on other work. Two of my upcoming trials have work that needs doing: I need to draft Agreed Facts and a Bad Character Application in one, and I need to make proposals for edits to an ABE video interview with a child in the other.
I receive a call from my clerks at my desk. A defendant who absconded after being convicted has been arrested. I head back to court, read the papers as quickly as possible (again, it’s not a case I’ve been on before) and go into court. The Judge adjourns the sentence so that the original Judge can deal with it.
Back at my desk – working. My chambers is friendly and sociable, so I take this opportunity to chat to other members as they come and go.
My clerks call to inform me of my work for tomorrow. I have a new trial. This time, I’m defending in a robbery trial in Worcester. I read the papers and familiarise myself with the facts of the case.
I get on the train and travel back home. I eat dinner and end my day by going through the papers for tomorrow’s trial for a second time.
Best thing about practice: Every day brings something new, interesting and often unexpected.
Worst thing about practice: Every day brings something new, which often means working late into the evening.
Rupert Jones is a criminal and media law young barrister at Citadel Chambers, and a member of the Young Barristers’ Committee.