So why did I honestly believe that Thursday's events would be any more professional? Well, one assumes when one is sitting in front of a judge that they would be. You may all now laugh at my naivety.
Over the past few years I have sat in probably over 20 school admission appeals. Now although the subject matter is different one would assume the processes would follow a similar format.
The panel introduces themselves and informs of their relevant experience.
The Chair asks everyone to confirm they have received pages from 1 to whatever from the Clerk so we know we all have the same information.
The Clerk explains her role is to ensure the law is adhered to and record the meeting.
Everyone is basically given the opportunity to question everyone else.
Now I get that some areas might not be identical, and maybe that's why the Clerk left the room during the process on at least one occasion.
I get that we probably did all receive the same documentation, but for the judge just to say 'we've all got the same paperwork' really isn't acceptable. What if we hadn't? What if the panel had not had in their possession something really important? They cannot prove we all had the same documentation.
The code of practice they had provided us was years out of date!
We had no opportunity to question either CICA or the panel. The first part of the meeting ended with the judge saying they were "going to retire to deliberate ................... (long pause) ................... oh, is there anything you'd like to add?" Well that certainly made me feel like they were so interested in Joe - not.
During that break Joy felt that we had been rushed. We were supposed to go in at 1.30, but the morning case didn't finish till 2pm, and we went in at 2.15, so the panel hadn't had what I would have thought was a long enough interval following a 5.5 hour case. Also, while we were waiting someone had returned from the previous morning as their case hadn't been completed and had been told to come back for 2.30. (Info from the Clerk by the way, not the other people). So our case was set for 1.30 and they had asked someone to come back at 2.30 - they really had taken our needs into consideration hadn't they?
When I questioned one of their rulings I was met with a stone wall of silence. How quickly did they want us out?
I have to say I was so disappointed with the system. I would have expected a far more professional experience. I really must stop expecting the best in people.
Still with me? Let's move onto their decisions .......
I cannot remember them all, we could have waited for them to be typed out, but I choose for them to be posted.
Three points I remember very well:
1. Joe did not seek medical advice from the doctor or CAMHS after the event.
- He was signed off from CAMHS when he was 16 so why on earth is that relevant?
- He went to the doctor regarding his sense of smell and taste and was advised it does happen and there's nothing that can be done. He has agreed to have a test to confirm this condition.
- The college helped him with study support for the learning.
- So what? Did they expect him to keep wasting NHS funds and resources when nothing could be done?
3. They acknowledge that not going to America led to depression and a downward spiral. but do not accept that it relates to his head injury. They had evidence from Joseph's course tutor that his academic ability suffered after the head injury. They had evidence that he couldn't play football for 6 months and therefore couldn't attend trials. Now, I know I'm not the brightest firework and I am biased. But the evidence confirmed the reason he didn't go to America. Therefore A plus B equals C - unless you're on an appeals panel apparently.
They seemed adamant to blame his behaviour on his ADHD. They based their decision solely on the written evidence - which may or may not have been complete.
A previous judges direction had requested a medical report from a Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist to ascertain, amongst a long list of other things 'the Appellant appears to have criminal convictions since the index assault. Are these attributable in whole or in part to the brain injury and/or disabling mental illness sustained in the assault? If yes, why, and if not, why not?'
Surely, unless the 3 people on the panel are CCN (and as they didn't explain their credentials I suppose it is possible) and feel competent to make that judgement without meeting Joseph, this is probably an essential piece of evidence to decide on exceptional circumstance. Joe had no criminal record before the head injury. He had no criminal record when the award was first offered. The criminal record appeared after everything started to go wrong in his life.
I am so tired, and so disillusioned, but with my Mummy hat on, next thing I type is the appeal.........
Hope you lasted to the end, and are still awake!