Guidance for Legal Professionals to Join a Skype Hearing (DCS Cases) from Liverpool Crown Court is available to view here.
A message from HHJ Menary QC:
- For a defendant on bail who indicates through his advocate a guilty plea or pleads guilty, we will list the case in 7days time for the plea to be entered by the defendant. The defendant will then have to appear in person or the solicitors make the necessary arrangements for the Defendant to appear by Skype. When the plea is entered sentence can and will in many of the cases be further adjourned to a sentence date c.12 weeks hence and reports ordered if necessary. In other words while we must get the plea in the bag Judges will not necessarily be in a rush to actually sentence. A clear indication will normally be given that the defendant will be given appropriate credit/full credit. Of course there will be some cases usually serious cases where a lengthy adjournment is not appropriate.
- So defence solicitors need to be reviewing their outstanding cases, including cases where a defendant is awaiting the outcome of a trial of a co-accused or where the defendant is at risk of serving the equivalent of a sentence on remand, or where the court might be persuaded to grant bail or where the case should and could crack, and ask the court to list these cases.
- We must of course follow proper sentencing principles and also avoid a risk of an unduly lenient sentence, but there is a wide margin of discretion for a judge in many cases, and all judges will acknowledge the worth of a plea entered in the current circumstances.
In addition to the above, the court will still allow the use of video link booths for solicitors to arrange conferences with their clients in custody should solicitors wish to use this facility should they want to. Of course this will mean that attendance at the Court building would be necessary. Clearly a matter for the individual solicitor or firm.