How much Of an Impact Does a Queen’s Counsel Appointed Lawyer Have On the Impartiality of Criminal Prosecution?

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The study's conclusions on the impact of appointing a lawyer as a Queen's Counsel on impartiality in a criminal prosecution are reported in the paper. The literature review identifies distinct gaps in previous research that address the area of interest. The Social Learning Theory was used as the framework to ensure that the research was on the right track. A textual analysis was used in the study to assure the successful completion of the investigation. The research findings and subsequent debate led to the conclusion that choosing a lawyer to the office of Queen's Counsel had a significant impact on the impartiality expected in a criminal court of law. Keywords: law, psychology, criminal prosecution, Queen’s Counsel, and lawyer

Law and Psychology: How much Of an Impact Does a Queen’s Counsel Appointed Lawyer Have On the Impartiality of Criminal Prosecution?


The Queen’s Counsel appointed lawyer according to Kirby (2016), is a distinguished advocate of the court. Their appointment is done on an annual basis as a form of recognizing the advocate's experience as well as excellence as a practitioner of law. As such, the lawyer as Kirby (2016) noted becomes “Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law.” The opportunity to be Queen’s Counsel comes with some privileges for example increase in fees charged. In this view, this study seeks to investigate the level of impact a Queen’s Counsel appointed lawyer could be impartial in handling any criminal prosecution.

The Study Question

The researcher was interested in finding out the level of impact that a Queen’s appointed lawyer has on impartiality of criminal prosecution.

Literature Review

On lessons learned from England in facilitating able representation of the public in a criminal prosecution, Wynne (2017) infers that defense lawyers who draw their wages on the basis of appointments often provide deplorable representations. Nevertheless, the defendants have complained against ineffective representation and their subsequent efforts to appeal have been compromised by the lawyers and the judges. For this reason, the privately hired lawyers have gained the trust of the citizens who have confidence in them whenever they represent them in whatever lawsuit they may be involved in. The private lawyers are able to draw out the client’s account and keeping their relationship professional (Wynne, 2017). They investigate both the defendant’s as well as the prosecution’s account while pushing the hearing for discoveries, concession, and observance of law. They exhibit exemplary fight on the trail to prove that the accused is not guilty and would only stop pressing the prosecution if pleading guilty is the only option.

Correspondingly, the advances to reform and enhance the low fee paid to the appointed defense lawyers to represent the public have tremendously failed. The legislatures have openly continued to refute increasing the lawyers’ fee paid by the public defendant despite knowing that doing so would enable them to attract more attorneys to represent them in cases (Kirby, 2016). Similarly, it is not only the trial courts that have exhibited failure to inspect the lawyer’s efforts, but also the appellate courts. The courts have not investigated the recurrent claims by the defendants regarding the ineffectiveness of the defense lawyers.

Conceptual Framework/Design

The framework that was adopted for this research study is Social Learning Theory. The theory delves into explaining various principles that focus and support rights as well as responsibilities (Jennings & Henderson, 2014). In understanding law to mean the systems of regulations or rules set by a nation or a state to control the activities and actions of her people and on the other hand, psychology to refer to the study of social behavior and individual’s characteristics, rights and responsibilities are central to the existence of people in any social set up. Thus, the lawyers are social workers obliged to ensure that people’s rights are protected.


Textual Analysis

The approach which was taken for this study is textual analysis method. It is a methodology that is mostly applicable for addressing certain research question which requires investigation of secondary source materials including books and journals that are authentic and reliable. To ensure that the study was successfully completed, the textual scrutiny was focused on law books, psychological books, and peer-reviewed articles and journals delving into law and the study of Psychology.

Abstraction of Data

The process involved keying in terms such as law, psychology, criminal prosecution, Queen’s Counsel, and lawyer into Google scholar. However, with the limited number of the desired journals, more searchers were conducted on other databases including ProQuest, EBSCOhost and Research Gate. Based on the vitality and essentiality of the required data, fewer sources corresponded to the criteria that had been set for inclusion. The used sources specifically discussed the topic of interest where relevant and useful findings were inferred.


According to Rappaport (2017), the opportunity of the Queen appointing a lawyer immediately gives the Queen’s Counsel an advantage to increase the fees charged. The author further explained that the lawyer otherwise referred to as barrister charges higher fees based on his or her roles changing as they focus on fewer and complex cases. With the appointment to the position of being Her Majesty’s learned lawyer, there is the propensity to specialize and focus on handling a particular type of cases. Since with specialization on cases came the responsibility to handle more complex legal cases, the Queen’s Counsel is often tasked with leading a team of advocate to deliberate on cases with a larger burden of proof.

A Queen’s Counsel is exempted from the code of conduct that observes the “Cab-rank rule,” whereas, a self-employed barrister has to comply with the regulations of the aforementioned rule (Rappaport, 2017). The barrister under the rule in whichever field of law practiced is obliged to use his or her experience as well as seniority and regardless of the represented client being public or private has to: agree and appear before the respective court of law in the field of practice, follow any instruction and represent an individual that he or she might be instructed to represent. Pursuant to the instructions to represent any one when called upon, there is the responsibility to do so irrespective of the person’s political affiliation, type of the case, and any preconceived opinion, idea or view about the person (Warren, 2013). Thus, they are at no liberty to choose their clients and act on preferred cases.


Reflecting on the findings and certain aspects presented in the literature, review, it is apparent that the Queen’s Counsel appointed lawyer greatly impacts the impartiality of a criminal prosecution. Firstly, the privilege of raising chargeable fees for handling any legal case is a step towards depriving defendants an opportunity to be given a fair hearing during the trial (Kirby, 2016). Comparatively, the disgraceful low fees that the legislature has refused to increase obviously would bar the counsel from representing a public citizen in a legal battle considering the workload he or she might be having and the level of experience as well as seniority.

Secondly, the Queen’s Counsel is exempted from observing the regulations stipulated in the “Cab-rank rule” Kirby (2016) typical reveal the undeniable possibility of the Counsel being partial. For instance, while a self-employed barrister is expected to abide by the conducts, the Counsel is not bound by the Cab-rank-rule, thus, has the choice to either appear or before the respective court of law in the field of practice, disregard any instruction and not represent any individual he or she might be told to represent. There being no binding cause, the counsel partiality might be due to the person’s political affiliation, disinterest in the type of the case, and probable influence by preconceived opinion, idea or view about the persons’ character (Wynne, 2017).

Thirdly, the courts have failed to inspect lawyer’s efforts. Based on this, judges might not notice a Counsel’s displeasure in a case and the lesser effort (Kirby, 2016). Nevertheless, the appellant counts have failed to investigate the claims of ineffectiveness of the defense lawyers assigned to them. It should, nonetheless, be taken into consideration that a Queen’s Counsel like the other layers might as well ignore angles that could otherwise be used to free the defendant due to preoccupation and excess workload that take up most of the Counsel’s time.


In summary, the appointment of a lawyer to the position of Queen’s Counsel had a great impact on impartiality in criminal prosecution. The many responsibilities such as handling complex cases make them choose what type of cases to act on. On the other hand, they are set loose of legal liabilities. The individual is not bound by many regulations that govern the courts hence have the freedom to choose what to be accountable for in a court of law. The increase in chargeable fee might make the counsel to be choosy on which cases to take and those to reject. For example, the legislatures have openly over time declined to increase the fees that the public citizens involved in lawsuits pay to be represented by the defense lawyers. In such a scenario, the fee might be too low to attract the Counsel who ends up rejecting a case he or she could have greatly assisted in.


Jennings, W. G., & Henderson, B. B. (2014). Social learning theory. The Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology.

Kirby, M. (2016). 06_Modes of Appointement and Training of Judges: A Common Law Perspective.

Rappaport, J. (2017). The Structural Function of the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel of Choice. The Supreme Court Review, 2016(1), 117-156.

Warren, C. (2013). A History of the American Bar. Cambridge University Press.

Wynne, S. (2017). Indigent defense in the United States: An analysis of state frameworks for ensuring the effective assistance of counsel (Doctoral dissertation).

April 26, 2023




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