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Comment 14th August 2010

Schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 fetters trial judges unnecessarily in handing down sentences for murder. They are the ones who have sat through the case and they are the experts as to the level of sentencing. The last government listened to fears in the tabloid press and passed this populist measure. They should not have interfered as they are amateurs in this important decision-making process. Leave sentencing to the professionals. The schedule is vague, complicated and unnecessary.

Why does this matter?

It might concentrate the mind of law-makers and only pass laws which are essential. Murder trials are uniquely different and it is impossible to legislate for all aspects of the case such as mitigation and aggravation.

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