Irish Judges need to be Trained properly; many of them are fucking Clueless, and Detached from Reality??

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Judges say sentencing guidelines are needed most for sex crimes and fatal driving offences amid proof of error

 10th January 2022


Judges want priority to be given to the development of guidance on appropriate punishments for sexual crimes and fatal driving offences.

A survey of the judiciary by a Judicial Council committee indicated the areas were among the most in need of sentencing guidelines.

However, long-awaited recommendations on sentencing for various crimes are unlikely to be delivered until 2023 due to a lack of existing data, according to the council.

The disclosure comes amid evidence of significant errors in sentencing across a range of offences. In 2021, the Court of Appeal altered sentences in 60pc of cases where it published a written judgment.

In most of these cases, the sentence was increased because the original punishment was considered too lenient.

The issue is a reoccurring one as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions felt the need to lodge 419 appeals on grounds of undue leniency between 2011 and 2020.

Details of the survey of judges, which was carried out on informal basis in 2021, were disclosed by Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley of the Supreme Court, who chairs the Judicial Council’s sentencing guidelines and information committee. In a paper delivered at a recent Irish Penal Reform Trust conference, she said judges were asked to identify what they saw as priority areas for the committee’s work.

“Certain themes came through quite strongly, including sexual offences, driving offences that cause fatalities and recurring issues in cases concerning offences committed in the context of a past or ongoing relationship between victim and offender,” she said.

Ms Justice O’Malley’s committee was set up in July 2020 and a year later it commissioned four reports from the University of Strathclyde on methods of gathering and analysing sentencing data. A spokesman for the council said this work was ongoing with the first report at draft stage but the remaining reports are expected to progress quickly.

“As regards when guidelines might be prepared, given the amount of work in building the foundations and the apparent absence of data, it would be reasonable to conclude that it will be 2023 before the first guidelines emerge,” the spokesman said.

In her paper, Ms Justice O’Malley said the Judicial Council Act required the committee to take a number of issues into account in developing draft guidelines.

These include the need to promote consistency in sentences imposed by the courts, the impact of sentencing decisions on victims, the need to promote public confidence in the criminal justice system, the financial costs involved in the execution of different types of sentences, and the relative effectiveness of them in the prevention of reoffending.

She said public confidence was unlikely to be promoted unless information about sentencing is disseminated that shows there is a clear appreciation of the impact on victims and of the value of consistency.

The judge said the requirement to take the relative costs of sentencing options into account may involve the consideration of factors that would not up to now have been thought relevant by a sentencing judge.

“Under current sentencing principles, cost is not usually taken into account in the sentencing decision, any more than, for example, the availability of temporary release,” she said.

The Court of Appeal published judgments last year in relation to the sentences handed down to 20 offenders.

Of those, 13 were appeals by the DPP alleging undue leniency. In nine cases, the court increased the sentence. The sentence remained unchanged in the other cases.

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