Fit for Contention

first_img Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Shanoah Montano was less than thrilled to move from sunny Florida, where he attended an elite soccer academy, to the far corner of Montana, where soccer seemed like a forgotten sport with only a three-month season.That may be true in some parts of the state, but not Whitefish. This town reveres soccer. It churns out talented goal scorers seemingly year after year. Rain or shine, winter or summer, soccer is played, and it’s played well.“I came here and I was really surprised,” Montano said.Now a senior, the midfielder is a high-scoring captain on the Bulldogs celebrated soccer team, helping carry on the tradition of excellence and leading the chase for another championship.At 6-3-2 overall, 4-1-2 in Northern A, Whitefish has one of the best records in Class A as the regular season winds down and the postseason approaches.The Bulldogs appear to be peaking at the right time, having outscored opponents 13-6 the past five matches and going 3-1-1 in that stretch against conference foes Columbia Falls, Polson, Bigfork and Libby.Whitefish lost a rare match to Bigfork on Tuesday, 5-2. It was the first time the Vikings (6-3-2, 5-1) had defeated the Bulldogs. Whitefish plays Saturday at Columbia Falls (2-7, 1-4). Bigfork takes on Libby (4-6, 3-3) Thursday.The No. 1 seed from Northern A will host a first-round playoff game Oct. 18 against the No. 2 seed from Southern A, which could most likely be Stevensville (7-2-1, 5-1).The No. 2 seed from the North would take on the winner of a play-in game between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams from the East on Oct. 13-14. The No. 3 team from Northern A, either Libby or Columbia Falls, will play the No. 1 seed from the South, which right now would be Corvallis (9-1, 6-0).It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Whitefish is once again rolling into the postseason as a highly touted contender. But many soccer fans thought this would be a rebuilding year for one of the state’s premier programs after three key all-state players graduated from last season’s 9-2-2 team: Nathan Boone, Tommy Murphy and Jon Dittman.Instead, head coach O’Brien Byrd reloaded with a squad of passionate players who accepted the challenge of carrying on Whitefish’s proud tradition.After the initial summer workouts, Byrd pulled his coaches aside with a statement that surprised even him — “We’ve got a team here.”“These guys are blowing away my expectations on a daily basis,” he said. “Usually I have very high expectations for our teams, but this year’s team, it was going to be OK if we struggled because we’re young and we lost a lot of experience. Then all of a sudden these guys got the look. They’ve got the glimmer. They’ve got it.”For starters, the boys have an uncommonly high fitness level. The entire team’s average two-mile time, measured through an exercise known as the Cooper Test, was 13:49. Five players were under 12 minutes, which is considered college-level fitness.“This is the fittest team I’ve ever coached,” Byrd said.Leading this latest squad, Byrd is leaning on his three captains — Montano, Jared Johnson and Walter Sobba. As a sophomore last season, Johnson scored 19 goals, most on the team. This fall the talented midfielder has netted eight goals, fifth most in the state. Montano has nine goals, fourth most in the state. Sobba has led the defense, which has only let 16 goals get past.The schedule wasn’t kind to Whitefish in the beginning. While trying to quickly develop their identity, the Bulldogs had to face the top two teams in the state. They lost to Corvallis 4-3 on Sept. 5 and a week later fell to Belgrade 3-1 on Sept. 13.But sometimes losing early is a blessing in disguise.“Even though we lost to Belgrade, it was a really good experience of playing them and seeing how they play,” Montano said. “We know we can definitely compete against them.”Belgrade has the top scorer and best record in the state. The Panthers are 9-0, 3-0 and have outscored opponents 23-3. Chris Brayton leads Class A in scoring with 18 goals.As the bracket goes this year, Whitefish and Belgrade could collide in the semifinals in Belgrade.Are the Bulldogs nervous of that scenario? No way.“When we played Belgrade, they were definitely the best team in the state, but I can’t honestly say that now,” Byrd said. “We played both (Corvallis and Belgrade) and we know if we have another chance we could maybeupset them.”There’s also some added motivation for this group of boys: if Whitefish wins its first two matches in the postseason bracket, it would host the Class A state championship on Nov. 1. The last time that happened was in 2012, when the Bulldogs claimed their second consecutive championship, and fourth title since 2006, in front of more than 2,000 fans at Smith Fields.“That’s incredible motivation for us,” Byrd said of potentially hosting the championship again.Put another way, “We’re all super passionate,” Montano said. “We want it.”last_img read more

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Factory flaw

first_imgThe newly announced Claims Process for RTA claims valued up to £10,000 is the latest attack on the rights of those injured in road traffic accidents. The outstanding ‘achievement’ of the Predictable Costs regime is that many claimants are now represented by so-called claim factories, that are forced to employing cheap, inexperienced clerks to run PI claims. It seems this rot is set to worsen with the vast majority of cases under the new regime attracting costs of only £1,200. This is compounded by a regime that, among other limitations, forces the claimant to accept the opinion of a medical expert, which simply cannot be challenged, and which must be disclosed 15 days from finalisation. This means that claimants will no longer be able to exercise their right to challenge the opinion of a medical expert or obtain alternative evidence before disclosure. Much worse, claimants will no longer be able to await the expiry of a declared prognosis period to ensure it is actually accurate, before having their claim resolved. How many claimants will have their claims forcibly adjudicated by the court during a prognosis period, only to return to their solicitors months after to complain that they are still suffering? In (what will no doubt be rare) cases, where the prognosis period does expire before the claim is resolved, there are provisions within the new rules to allow for medical opinion to be obtained outside of the process, and for oral hearings to take place. However, in such cases the claimant will effectively have to obtain alternative evidence to defeat his or her primary medical evidence and convince the court the latter evidence is correct, while costs will remain restricted to the paltry sums allowed by the regime. Claimant solicitors should be forgiven for having little enthusiasm to take such cases forward, given the risks and self-defeating financial implications involved in doing so. Whether at that point solicitor practices will even be able to afford to employ those with the necessary expertise to do so is also highly questionable. We can however take comfort from the fact that the latter situation will be rarity, as most cases will be forced to under-settle before the prognosis period expires. Christopher Hibbert, Sheldon Davidson Solicitors, Manchesterlast_img read more

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Case management; murder; and costs

first_img the defendant’s acts and omissions must result from the defendant’s loss of control; the loss of control must have a qualifying trigger; and a person of the defendant’s sex and age, with a normal degree of tolerance and self-restraint, in the circumstances might have reacted in the same or similar way to the defendant. Murder The Criminal Defence Service (Funding) (Amendment) Order 2012 has come into force for representation orders dated on or after 1 April 2012. This redefines magistrates’ court cases that would fall into category 1. There are now two categories: category 1A earning the higher series of fees; and category 1B earning the lower series of fees. All fees in the magistrates’ court are capable of enhancement in appropriate cases. In the higher category 1A are either-way guilty pleas, indictable only in cases heard in the youth court, and proceedings other than committal proceedings in relation to either-way offences which are discontinued, withdrawn, no evidence offered or result in a bindover. It also appears that, although omitted from the order, either-way offences in the youth court which can only be tried summarily are to be paid within this category. In the lower category 1B are summary only guilty pleas, and also uncontested proceedings arising out of a breach of an order of the magistrates’ court, whatever the original offence. This category applies to proceedings other than committal proceedings relating to summary offences which have been discontinued or withdrawn and no evidence offered, or where there is a bindover. In addition, proceedings arising from the deferment of a sentence for whatever offences are in this lower category, as are prescribed proceedings such as anti-social behaviour order applications and proceedings relating to low-value criminal damage. The order also seeks to clarify the law in relation to page count for the purposes of graduated fees. Witness statements and records of interview, however served, documentary or pictorial exhibits served on paper and documentary or pictorial exhibits served only electronically which previously existed in paper form count towards pages of prosecution evidence (PPE). In addition, although not included within the order, it would appear that ABEs (achieving best evidence interviews) will be dealt with in this way. The difficulties arise over documentary or pictorial exhibits which are served only electronically and which have never existed on paper. Here, special preparation requiring good time-recording and the identification of the fee-earner concerned will be payable unless the appropriate officer decides it would be appropriate to include it in PPE, taking into account the nature of the documents and any other relevant circumstances. Although there is no definition of this phrase, the Legal Services Commission is suggesting that it means PPE will be paid if such a document would until now have been served in paper form, notwithstanding it is now only served electronically. However, the costs judges are at liberty to give such interpretation as they consider appropriate to this phrase. No fee is payable for the consideration of unused material or audio or video tapes. The position in relation to audio tapes was confirmed by Lord Chancellor v McLarty & Co [2011] EWHC V185 (QB), which also confirmed that enhancement cannot be claimed on special preparation but only in relation to confiscation proceedings. A series of cases before the costs judges confirm that the number of cases to be paid graduated fees is an entirely mechanistic process. In R v Bowen [2011] Costs Law Reports 693, there had been a ‘sending’ for murder and a ‘sending’ separately for sexual assault. A purported joinder of those two indictments was in fact in a misjoinder and the trial proceeded on a voluntary bill of indictment. In these circumstances, there had been three indictments and three fees were therefore payable. However, where advocacy fees are concerned it is important to recognise the effect of paragraph 22(2) of schedule 1 to the Criminal Defence Service (Funding) Order 2007. Whatever the number of indictments, only one fee will be payable if they are heard concurrently with mark-ups for each additional indictment. However, where a guilty plea is accepted in one case and no evidence then offered on a separate indictment, the court held in R v Fury [2011] Costs LR 919 that the cases had been heard consecutively and separate fees were therefore payable. The meaning of a trial has been substantially reinterpreted in two key decisions of R v Wembo [2011] Costs LR 926 and Lord Chancellor v Ian Henery Solicitors (2011) EWHC 3246 (QB). In essence the court will now have regard to the substance and not the form. If, in days before the CPR, a hearing would have taken place after the empanelment of a jury then the court will indicate that a trial has begun. On the other hand, the mere empanelment of a jury will not of itself be enough to commence the trial. The meaning of a retrial has also been redefined. In R v Forsyth SCCO 155/10 and R v Cato SCCO 9 March 2012, the judge confirmed that there could only be a retrial when a judge made an order to that effect. This only happens when a jury disagrees and cannot reach a verdict, or when there is an appeal or retrial. Stopping a case part-heard is not enough. In those circumstances the days of the aborted trial will be added to the days of the effective trial often to the advantage of the profession. If two potential defendants are firing guns at each other intending to kill or cause serious injury, not only is the first defendant who actually kills the victim guilty of murder, but so also is the second defendant, either because he aided and abetted the first defendant, or because he was himself a principal as a direct participant engaged with his agreement in unlawful violence specifically designed to cause and in fact causing death (R v Gnango [2011] UKSC 59). There have been two important decisions in relation to the defences to murder available by the amendments made by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The defence of loss of control was considered in R v Clinton, Parker and Evans [2012] EWCA Crim 2. Under the statutory requirements: The decision in R v Newell [2012] EWCA Crim 650 will do much to ease solicitor concerns about incriminating their clients when completing case management forms, whether in the magistrates’ court or at a plea and case management hearing in the Crown court. While the answers solicitors give on behalf of a client are admissible hearsay, the court indicated that, provided the lawyers are seeking to comply with the Criminal Procedure Rules (CPR), no answer provided by them should be admitted as evidence against the defendant. The discretion under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 should be exercised to exclude the evidence. This decision is timely because, under a change to the CPR made on 2 April, the court may require that the matters in issue should be identified in writing. In Drinkwater v Solihull Magistrates’ Court [2012] EWHC 765 (Admin), the court confirmed the desirability of a court setting time limits for the examination and cross-examination of witnesses. Solicitors will need to be careful that they estimate sufficient time effectively to undertake their role. However, Drinkwater has a greater importance. While the courts now deprecate the granting of adjournments, a different situation prevails when it is the absence of the defendant that is causing the need for one. Referring to the House of Lords decision in R v Jones [2002] UK HL 5, the court pointed out that discretion to try a person in their absence must be exercised with very great care, and it is only in exceptional cases that it should be exercised. This will obviously include where the absence is a deliberate absconding to slow down the court process. The court was also referred to the decision in Nadour v Chester Magistrates’ Court [2009] EWHC 1505 (Admin), where a defence witness, for good reason, was not able to attend the trial and an adjournment should have been allowed. The decision in R v SVS Solicitors [2012] EWCA Crim causes great concern. There is to be no appeal. The court allowed a wasted costs order against solicitors because they had failed to respond to a hearsay notice. This was despite the fact that the Crown could easily have obtained an order for the giving of the evidence because of a lack of a response. While there was no sanction, other than the inference under section 11 of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 in relation to a failure to serve a defence case statement, the court indicated that, if solicitors are not otherwise able to comply with their duties under the rules, they should apply to the court for directions. The court actually suggested that solicitors should withdraw, but this is unlikely to be welcome at any Crown court.center_img However, section 55 of the act, which defines the qualifying triggers, explicitly states that sexual infidelity must be disregarded. But the court has indicated that this will only apply when sexual infidelity is the only reason for the killing. Where other considerations apply the court must look at all aspects of the case so that all the circumstances of the defendant, including the effect of sexual infidelity, are taken into account. In R v Dowds [2012] EWCA Crim 281, the court confirmed that, notwithstanding the new statute, voluntary acute intoxication is not capable of founding diminished responsibility. The presence of a recognised medical condition is a necessary, but not always sufficient, condition to raise that defence. Costs Anthony Edwards, TV Edwardslast_img read more

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Quid-a-kid for Terriers test

first_imgThe Terriers visit Ashton Gate in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday (November 30th, 3pm KO) as Lee Johnson’s side look to extend their unbeaten home run to eight games.The Gold category fixture sees Adult tickets priced from £30, with tickets remaining on general sale.Quid-a-kid is in operation for this match, meaning Under-12s can watch the fixture for just £1.Supporters are reminded that there is still time to become a Bristol City member for £20.Get your ticketslast_img

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