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Scots Law differs from other kinds of Law, such as English Law, American Law or Dundee Law, in being what is termed as 'Common As-muck Law.'
Under Common Law, none of the statutes are actually written down. This is because being 'common' they contain a high proportion of offensive words. Thus instead of consulting statute-books, it is up-to every Scot to make whatever interpretation they wish of the Law. Within reason.
That said, it is worth bearing in-mind that a Judge may not necessarily make the same interpretation of the Law as do you. This can be a problem.
A distinctive feature of Scots justice is the need for co-robberation of evidence. This means that no one person's story can be used, on its own, to secure a conviction. For any case to proceed, the eyewitness testimony of a minimum of two larcenists is required. This may of course create serious difficulties in controlling those types of crime which do not involve misappropriation.
Scots Common Law
Under Scots Common Law there was originally only one offence, termed 'Being English'. To this later was added, 'Breech of the Piece.' This could be interpreted as meaning 'Onnything ah dinnae ken the mannie agrees with ye daein' -and could be applied to most crimes, ranging in severity from nuclear protests to ... well, to nuclear protests. In recent years, and under pressure from Brussels to codify Scots Law, two more offences have been added to the Statues, giving us the present total of three:
With so few laws, Scots justice relies heavily on precedent. That is, decisions tend to be based on previous examples of similar judgements. Thus, if you're thinking of doing something a bit iffy, then it's best to find out if someone has done the same thing before, and got away with it. Or not got away with it, as the case may be. However, when searching for precedents, be aware that cases involving a solicitor, sheriff or advocate as the guilty party should not be taken as reliable indicators of precedent. The fact that a legal professional got-away with it doesn't necessarily mean that you will.
Scots Law defines three kinds of Court, in increasing order of importance:
Magistr Court is so-called owing to most of its computers being malware-infected. It is presided over either by a hacker using the name of W32.M3gistr8@MM, or alternatively by 'JP' who is is better-known to us as a DJ with a liking for the deliberately obscure.
Interestingly, M3gistr8s are untrained in legal matters, and know nothing of the Law. This is not as serious as you might think, since (as already noted) Scots Law is wide-open to interpretation in any way you like. Or, more significantly, in any way the M3gistr8 likes.
The Magistr Court typically tries cases of low importance, such as armed assault, rape, arson or conspiring to return humanity to a stone-age lifestyle.
The dudes who run this show invariably have an obsession with a mythical time in American history which never actually happened. A typical courthouse will double as a saloon, with beer and whisky readily available. Lighting will be from low-set spots, in order that persons standing on the dais shall be in the path of light falling onto the rest of the courtroom.The Stetson and Silver Star serve as badges of office of its presiding gunperson. Behind the dais will be the crossed flags of the Saltire and the Confederacy.The walls will typically carry images of Clint Eastwood, John Wayne or Dolly Parton, and C&W music will be played in the intermissions, accompanied by a spot of line-dancing by the more energetic of the jurors.
The Sheriff Court tries the moderately serious cases, such as the theft of sums in excess of 50p.
Note: It is important to use the proper formal address of "Yo, Pardner" when speaking to the Sheriff. Fail to do so and you will find yourself dancing to the tune of his/her shootin' iron. It is also worth noting that a defendant who buys a round is much less likely to be found Guilty than one who tightfistedly buys his/her own.
The pinnacle of the Scots Legal System, the Avocado Court nightclub in Edinburgh tries only the most serious and unthinkable crimes within the scope of Scots Law, for example the embezzlement of sums in excess of £2.50.
Note: Riffraff like ordinary solicitors are definitely not allowed into the Avocado Court. Not even with one of those fancy gowns and a powdered wig. If you don't have an invite, don't bother asking.
The Avocado Court is also known as the Court of Secession.
Addendum and Caveat: The above Courts, managed by the Scots Parliament, are known as Civil Courts. It is important to be aware that there are also Criminal Courts. These are set up in exact imitation of the Civil Courts, and at first sight may be hard to distinguish from the genuine article. They operate in much the the same manner as phoney bank websites, or 'phishing sites' as they are known, and attempt to get members of the public to give away their creditcard details in response to a phoney trial and fine. Thus, before attending Court, always ensure that the address you have been given for the Court building is an official one.
Under any sensible legal system, there are two possible verdicts, Guilty or Not Guilty. Scots Law adds a third verdict, that of Guilty..ish. The Guilty...ish verdict could be roughly interpreted as, 'Ah ken fine weil ye didnae dae it, but the Government is imposing performance-figures on us so we cannae afford to let this ane slip awa' fae us.'
As with offences, only one defined penalty originally existed, that of being taken to the nearest tree and hanged. Uncyclopedia note: Fact detected.
Magistr Courts will more often these days impose a sentence of beheading by claymore, to be carried-out by the Plaintiff.This serves the dual advantage of stopping the blighter from doing it again, and of allowing the Plaintiff to take his or her Quickening in compensation for the Tort inflicted upon him or her.
A departure seen in some of the less-conventional Sheriff-courts is the sentence of Shooting in the Back, on the grounds that this alternative 'Saves y'all a durn load of messin-around fer the sake of a good-fur-nothin' varmint.'
The Avocado Court, dealing with the most serious of offences, has the powers to issue <pause for sharp intake of breath> fines. These are, naturally, the ultimate form of sanction and deterrent for any Scot.
- A Defendant may appeal any decision by the expedient of declaring to the Court, "There Can Be Only One Of Us!"
Under ancient Scots tradition, this then requires the Plaintiff to engage the Defendant in a claymore-duel in an open field during a thunderstorm. Since thunderstorms typically only occur during late summer in Scotland, this may usefully delay proceedings for up to a year.
PC's form the publicly-visible side of the Scots law-enforcement system. These operatives are sometimes confused with the police of other countries, owing to their habit of likewise driving-around with flashing blue lights and wailing sirens. This leads to a lot of their time being wasted by members of the public asking them to deal with crime. At the risk of repeating myself, that is not their role, so please don't place such calls. The very label of 'PC' should tell you that their role is one of enforcing Political Correctness within Scots society.
On the other hand, if you think that anyone has performed a politically-incorrect action, especially against yourself, then please do let the PC Squad know rightaway. Examples of politically-incorrect actions might be fending-off a pickpocketing attempt by a
yo behaviourally-challenged young person, or disarming a nu Vulnerable Individual with a chainsaw. Such actions are not to be tolerated, and the perpetrators will be dealt with swiftly and religiously.
Lawyers in Scotland are known as Solicitors. The origin of this unusual term stems from their hanging-around on street corners saying, "You can't possibly afford me, I'm far too expensive"
- In England, Soliciting is a statutory offence, but not in Scotland.
The more-aspiring Solicitor may, after many years of practice be permitted to add the term "Public Notoriety" to their title. This grants them the right perform the more advanced kinds of soliciting which are forbidden to an ordinary solicitor, let alone the general public.
The persecution of offenders on behalf of the Government is handled by a special class of solicitor known as a P..F. The P..F does much of what a regular solicitor does, but is one of a class specially chosen for their particular breed of vindictiveness and general dislike of the human race as a species.
Magistrs and JPs
These positions are Lay Judges, and as such are not paid, and have no specific entry qualifications. The position does give one a tremendous sense of power, though, and the ability to inflict fear and dread into the populace. Hence it is an extremely popular pastime.
The position of Sheriff is a full salaried one. The successful applicant will be expected to ride long distances in pursuit of bandits, and to demonstrate a good standard of horseplay. The ability to put a tight grouping of six into a baked-bean can at 25m is a prerequisite. Note: A minimum shadow-length restriction applies to this post.
To apply for this superior position, a Sheriff must first have gained experience of acting in a supervisory capacity for at least ten lynchings. Furthermore, he or she would typically be expected to figure at the very least in the Top Fifty for Fastest Draw in The Western Isles.
Nothing much is known about this incredibly-secret society of Illuminati. Other than that it is, secret. Though, even that is not certain. If you want to ask them what actually spend their time doing, you will mostly find them in the Scotland Bar. Though, some may be found hanging-out in various Stables, the Criminal Bar, or even the notorious 'Black Chambers' (don't ask..)
It should be noted that in Glasgow no one wants to be a juror and it is also very easy to get out of jury service. In fact the same 11 people have served on every jury in every case heard in the city since 1962. (Except for when Angus McTavish was ill for wee spell in Summer 1980 and when Auchty McLairns went awae te Benidorm fer te'y weeks en 1976 ye ken. On these occasions the juror was replaced by 'a passing dog'.)
Being a Witness
This can be a traumatic experience, particularly if you know perfectly well you told a tall tale to the cops just for effect. You will probably notice the Defendant's chums sitting in the public gallery, sharpening their claymores to perfection with meticulous and deliberate precision, each slow, prolonged, rasping 'zinnn-ng' of stone on tempered steel sending a deep, penetrating shudder down your trembling, ice-cold spine.
- Be deliberately confusing. This will avoid creating enemies.
This and other unpleasantness can be avoided, when your turn in the witness-box comes, by the simple process of being deliberately exasperating, rambling on and on forever about your entire life history, and declining to answer any question in a meaningful way. The Defendant's chums will thank you for this. As opposed to what would happen otherwise, which we won't go into.
The downside of this approach is that while satisfying the needs of the Defence, your continual deviousness may anger the Judge to the point where s/he puts you in the Slammer for Contempt of Court. Thus, a delicate balance has to be maintained between appearing to be co-operative and yet not making any statement which would convict the accused.
Being a Defendant
This is somewhat less traumatic than being a witness, inasmuch as those guys in the gallery are rooting for you, not looking to carve you up. You should also take reassurance from the fact that under Scots Law, you are innocent until declared Guilty. Since you have not yet been declared Guilty, you are therefore innocent. Yet. Catch my drift?
- You will probably find it a good idea to employ a Solicitor to conduct your defence.
Not because they will necessarily do a better job than you could do yourself, but because your employing one of the judge's lawyer-buddies will predispose him/her to view you in a better light, as a generous contributor to the wages of the Legal Profession instead of as a tightfisted, 'DIY Law' bastard who thinks s/he knows it all.
- In Scotland it is, unusually, permissible for a lay person to act as their own Legal Counsel.
This course of action will naturally save vast amounts of cash, in fact it may avoid your having to sell your house and live in a cardboard box from now on. The downside is that your failure to contribute a just and proper donation to the legal profession will lead to both Judge and Prosecution regarding you with a degree of seething hatred normally shown only for invading Englishpersons.Your chances of a fair trial thus become minimal, and no matter how skilled you happen to be in legal matters your chances of success are small. Take my word for it, go buy a cardboard box and stake-out your Big Issue patch.. You know it makes sense.
Being a Plaintiff
Plan your approach to this role very carefully. When making a nasty, mean accusation against a person you don't like, be sure to accuse that person of a crime or incident which never actually happened. Do not make exaggerated or distorted reference to an incident which did happen, as although at first sight this might seem to be more credible then an Accusation Without Material Substance, there may have been genuine witnesses to the real incident whose story blows your cover. Preferably, allege this crime to have taken place some considerable time ago. That way, it is less likely that any witness will come forward to say that no such event took place, or that your
victim assailant will be able to recall an alibi.
- Ensure that your witnesses know exactly what to say, and when.
- Preferably, give them a written brief along with the customary advance.
Insist that they rehearse their part in the case until it becomes second nature. This will reduce the likelihood of any embarrassing slip-ups, such as testimonies which contradict each other, for example one witness referring to the use of an MP5 as an offensive weapon, while the other insists that the assault was carried-out with an MP3.
- When telling your story to the Court, the key point to remember is: Emotions matter.
These guys just aren't interested in dry boring facts. A good tear-jerker, on the other hand, will have them sit-up and take notice. Even better if you manage a few fake tears yourself. Plan your
testimony performance carefully in advance, to include at least one exclamation of "Oh, the POOR little DARLINGS!!!" This is sure to create an atmosphere of mindless, hysterical hatred for the defendant in even the most level-headed judge. As you will soon begin to realise, thespian skills are everything when it comes to being a plaintiff. If you have no previous experience, consider taking a few drama-school classes before the trial. This will greatly enhance your rapport with Judge and Jury. It may even get you an encore.
In this respect, Scots Law is identical to American Law. Well, nearly.
Next, the Defendant will have his or her turn to speak, but first s/he needs to be taken through the process of swearing-in. Modern Courts offer various formats of Oath according to the faith of the Defendant, but by far the most popular is that of addressing you, the Plaintiff, with the words, "I solemnly declare that you are a Lying Bastard, A Worthless No-Good Scoundrel and a F<beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep>."
- Use Objections effectively, to disrupt the Proceedings as much as possible.
The defendant's solicitor will then do his or her best to pick holes in your story. A point to remember is that at any time during his or her account, you are allowed to stand-up and yell, "I OBJECT!!" in a thunderous voice. It is best to do this every time it looks as if he or she might say something embarrassing to you, like for example the truth. The Judge may or may not acknowledge your objection, depending on whether you made it loud enough to wake him or her. Either way it will throw the defendant off his or her stride, leaving him or her to muse, "Now, where was I..." and muff his or her lines.
Hopefully the Defendant and his/her Solicitor will both prove to be hopeless
actors litigators, and will get booed off the stage witness-stand. Even better if they get the rotten-tomato treatment from the gallery.
After the summing-up (which is always so boring as to be not worth mentioning) the Judge or Jury will pronounce the Guilty verdict you paid them for.
Following this the Judge will pronounce Sentence. Why it's called this heaven knows, as he/she has a propensity to drone-on even longer than an Ori Prior. 'Trilogy' would be a more realistic name.
Then you can all go home. Or, in your case as the Plaintiff, down into that small dark tunnel from whence all the clanking of keys and doors seems to come. . -What did the Judge mean when he said 'Per Jury?' Does that mean one 'inducement' per jury? Or, what?
He did look most annoyed. :-(
Scots' Legal Terms
A helpful guide to some of the more commonly-heard legalese:~
|Affidavit||Metal bracket-thingy for lowering things with, in this case on stern of boat.|
|Assoilzie||Defendant requires fresh underwear after hearing sentence.|
|Bail||Bit of wood used in very strange game played South of our border.|
|Books of Sederunt||Chronicles of the Third Age of Hyperborea, as narrrated by Clark Ashton Smith.|
|Confusio||So are we, mate.|
|Condescendence||Those who cheat, take a walk down into the Court basement.|
|Cy Pres||Tr Ee|
|Citation||Standing ovation for a brilliant piece of acting.|
|Decern||African particle-accelerator experiment.|
|Devilling||The process of converting a human into a solicitor.|
|Discharge||Result of squeezing facial lesion.|
|Dispone||Wideband antenna favoured by some radio enthusiasts.|
|Excambion||The legendary Offensive Weapon of Sir William Wallace.|
|Fiat ut Petitur||Small Italian car.|
|Floating Charge||Round thing with horns. Sinks ships belonging to people you don't like. Or, your own ship if you forget where you put it.|
|Germane||A brand of methylenedioxymethamphetamine, manufactured in Central Europe.|
|Grassum||To spill the beans.|
|Holograph writ||3D laser-show of charge.|
|Hypothec||Device allegedly for injecting the illegal substance.|
|Inhibition||Sheriff Courts find that alcohol alleviates this.|
|Incapax||Sheriffs are however advised to monitor the consumption by witnesses.|
|Insolvency||Physiological effect of glue-sniffing.|
|Lien||A lien is a witness who arrives by beaming-down from a saucer.|
|Inter Alia||"He fired his raygun first, M'lud, so I stunned him. It was self-defence. Honest it was."|
|Mens Rea||Not sure what a 'rea' is.. but if women don't get one too, there will be protests!|
|Obtemper||The process of heat-treating your Ob, for greater stiffness.|
|Parole Evidence||Tall story told by ex-con on good-behaviour release.|
|Perjury||Situation in which the Jury as a whole agrees to accept an incentive, to divvy between themselves.|
|Perjuror||Where an incentive is required by each individual Juror. This tends to be very much more costly than a Perjury arrangement.|
|Plead-in-Law||You discover (to your horror) that your spouse's parent is a solicitor.|
|Poinding||To extend an index-finger and say, "Yes, there's the no-good..."|
|Precognition||Employment of a Medium to predict case outcome.|
|Pro Tanto||Person paid to act as (or claim to be) your parent's sister.|
|QC||Solicitor who specialises in Transgender Law.|
|Rolls||Swanky motor. Or, essential toilet supplies.|
|Resile||Your ICBM loses thrust a few feet above the ground.|
|Rubric||Cuboid puzzle, to keep judge from getting bored.|
|Sist||What I colloquially call my mother's daughter.|
|Solemn Crime||Crook with no sense of humour.|
|Solemn Trial||Trial by jury. Ever seen one with a sense of humour?|
If you feel that you have received less-than-perfect service from your solicitor, have no fear, the Law Society of Scotland is here to help sort things out. Staffed entirely by solicitors, we understand better than most people the demands of this exacting profession, and are poised, ready to spring-into action in respect of any reported failure to keep the customer satisfied.
Once we have reviewed your complaint at a judiciary level for any remarks therein which we regard as defaming the profession and which thus justify Action on our part, it will be allocated to a solicitor for due consideration. To facilitate a speedy resolution by a person with firsthand knowledge of the case in-question, this will probably be the same solicitor you are complaining about, or if that is not possible, one of his or her close associates. Within no more than 6 months, you should have a reply explaining why you have nothing to complain about, along with the customary invoice for the time spent on the review.
If you are still not happy with this resolution, you may appeal in writing to the Lord Avocado, asking for a review by an independent solicitor within the Law Society. Note however that there is a time limit of Two Calendar Months for such appeals, as from the date of posting of your complaint to us.
Admissibility of Evidence.
Electronic evidence such as audio recordings is out. Even if sworn-to. This is because Solicitors, being nontech types, have no idea how to adjust such evidence to the satisfaction of the Court.
This is not a problem for written evidence. Where statements have been taken from Witnesses by the Prosecution, the Process of Redaction is commonly applied. This could be likened to giving the evidence a gentle, soothing massage to tone it up, so that it is in tip-top shape and perfect for the Trial.
This process is best explained by way of example. Suppose a witness had stated, "Yes I was present at the robbery of the the bank, but in fact I was in the cab of the digger at the roadworks, controlling the digging operation. I was facing away, and saw very little of the shooting." After redaction this becomes "Yes, I was present at the robbery of the bank.
xxxxxxxxx In fact, xxxxxxxxx I was controlling the xxxx operation. xxxxxxxxx I was shooting."
The Vulnerable Witness Act, 2004:
It has long been realised that Scots Courts, like most Scottish institutions, are places for Real Macho types.Wimps are not allowed. This does create problems for those of a nervous disposition, or who are of juvenile age. (Under 25, by Scots Law, is Juvenile. It says so in the local corner-shop.)
Additionally, the Act makes special provisions for persons with health problems such as psychiatric disorders. Such persons are no longer required to be tested with the BS/ISO EN 9005 Sanity Meter, or 'Propellerhead detector' as it is sometimes colloquially known. Instead, the Act indicates that the testimony of all persons with a reportable psychiatric complaint IS TRUE. It is utterly pointless to contest or argue against such a person's account of events. Like it or not, it is true.
-Apart from the bit about the Sheriff Principal, a leading (retired) police officer, and a whole gang of cronies who
xxxxxxxx xxx xxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx <redacted by prosecution service> of course. The less said about that, the better.
...I SAID don't mention that in public!!!
A further dispensation in this respect is that a schizoid individual is now permitted to self co-robberate. Thus, a witness with certified schizophrenia shall no longer be required to produce a second witness, his or her own two testimonies being sufficent grounds to convict.
It is envisaged that these new procedures will bring-about a bold, bright new era of Political Correctness in the Scots Legal System.
That is, of course, provided we don't get hoisted by our own petard.
Help with choosing your Solicitor (Oops, looks like they've been subject to a silencing order.. real surprise there!)