To us, the idea of law and courts seems pretty straightforward right?...I mean, it’s just an old man with a wig, sitting on a chair with the sole purpose of ordering people around and punishing them. HOWEVER, in reality, the processes judges have to go through to reach a final outcome are far more complicated than they appear as they have to precisely apply and interpret common law to a specific case each time with the utmost attentiveness in order to ensure that their decision does not ruin someone’s life! So…here are two examples of cases where the judges DEFINITELY had their work cut out for them.
1. The R Vs Blaue case of 2007 is one where a victim was stabbed but when taken to the hospital for treatment, refused the blood transfusion required to treat the wound as her religion forbade her to do so. As a result, she eventually died of blood loss and the worsening conditions of the wound which were in reality, not fatal enough to be the sole cause of her death.
This begged the question of whether the victim had been responsible for her own death and thus took her own life making her guilty of committing suicide, or whether the stabber was responsible for her death in the first place. The end result was that the judge sentenced the stabber for the victim’s death by concluding that the stabbing was still an operative part of her death and that those “who use violence on others must take their victims as they find them”.
2. Next, the Fagan Vs Metropolitan police officer case but before we go into any detail, it would be best if you understood the principles of Mens Rea and Actus Reus which is what the case is based on. So, In our criminal system, for an action to be viewed as a crime, the person involved MUST be having BOTH of these principles in mind; the first one being Mens Rea which means being in a guilty state of mind and having the intension to commit the offence, as well as Actus Reus which means carrying the actual offence out and so in this case, Mr Fagan the defendant, was asked to move his car by the police officer, which he did do, but while reversing, he accidently drove the car onto the police officer’s foot and when asked to remove it, told the officer to wait and did not respond.
As a result, he was convicted of assaulting police constable on duty but when taken to court, denied being guilty as he said although he carried out the act (Actus Reus) he did not intend to drive on the constable’s foot in the first place and so lacked Mens Rea – the guiltiness of the mind. However, the court argued that although he did not have the intention at first, the fact that he did not move afterwards entailed both him carrying out the offence as well as the intention of not moving which lead to harm and therefore, he was convicted of assault due to omission by the court.