June 20th, 2012

UK Law: Marital Privilege for Co-defendants

First time posting a question, so apologies for any missteps.

Setting: Modern-day London

Research: Wikipedia for spousal privilege and conspiracy, as well as watching Law & Order UK to get a feel for the criminal justice system as a whole (and in the hope there would be something pertinent; there wasn't).  Not sure where else to look/ how to search for my question.

I've read what Wikipedia has to offer on spousal/ marital privilege and come away with the fact that a married person cannot be compelled to testify against a spouse.  My question is this: how would that work if the couple were co-defendants?

My scenario: two friends are charged with conspiracy (I'd like to keep things as vague as possible; I know a married couple cannot be jointly charged with conspiracy if they are the only two being charged, but at the time of the crime and when the charges were brought they weren't married) after one helps the other fake his death and they decide to get married so one wouldn't end up incriminating the other. 

Does being 'compelled to testify' mean simply appearing as a witness?  Can a defendant refuse to answer a question on the grounds that it might incriminate them or their spouse, or have their barrister object/ have the question be disregarded by the jury?

I'm looking to keep about the level of realism as television, but I'd like to know if this scenario is even plausible.

[ANON POST] Spinal Surgery

Hi there.

So my question is about medical intervention. My story is set in modern-day US.

Basically my character has to go through spinal surgery for something that is not a big deal, the only risk lies in the surgery itself since it could leave him in a wheelchair. So I was thinking mild tumor but I don't know if such a thing exists.

I've googled things like "spinal surgery" "mild tumor" "spinal tumor", but the wikipedia article on spinal tumor gave me the impression that either it's mild and it's a mole or it's malignant.

If a malignant spinal tumor could be dealt with just one surgery that would work too, I just can't put him through the whole cancer treatment process with chemo etc.

Thanks for your answers!

Question on Broken Neck, no severed spinal cord

Setting: Modern day America
Research: General research on broken necks, fractures of the cervical vertebrae, and reading through various pages on physical therapy, neck braces, halo braces, etc

Situation: I've got two people in a car when the car is rammed from behind with lethal intent. The driver gets his neck broken from the impact, as well as other injuries non-relevant to this question, but the neck-break is specifically not a severing of the spinal cord, so no paralysis, etc. The vertebrae damaged are C3, C4, and C5.

The passenger was the actual target of the bad guys, who come to inspect the scene/check for survivors. The bad guys will shoot the passenger.

What I want, but I don't know whether or not it is feasible, is for the bad guys to see the driver and be able to visually tell he has a broken neck, from the angle of his head, etc, and to therefore assume he is dead and not shoot him as well.

The feasibility question comes in with: if the character's neck-break is one that DOESN'T include severed spinal cord, could it realistically be bad enough that he would still appear to have a broken neck to the bad guy (head lolling to one side/at impossible angle/whatever) ? Or is that sort of visible break so bad that it would have be a severed-spinal-cord injury?

Thanks for any help anyone can give me!

[ANON POST] Modern-Day Military Burial/ American Vet Buried in the UK

Hi everyone!

I have a few questions concerning military burials in the UK.

~ I know that the Union flag is draped over the veteran's coffin during the burial ceremony, but is that flag folded and provided to the next of kin as a memorial flag, as in the US? (you have no idea how hard this was for me to search...)

~ One of my characters is a US veteran, who still retains his American citizenship, but has lived in the UK for decades and is buried there. How would they conduct his funeral? Would US military personell conduct the ceremony, or would the British?
Also, this character is gay, and has been in an official partership since 2005 (married in the US in 2009), though he has been with his partner for decades. I want the military officials to present his memorial flag to his brother, who then gives it to the character's partner in front of them, but since partnerships are officially legal in the UK and that's where the funeral would be conducted, would they realistically present the memorial flag to his partner? I suppose this idea came up considering only a handful of states allow/recognize partnerships/marriages, so there might be discord over this?

I've already Google'd/Yahoo'd/Ask'd terms such as 'British military burial', 'British veteran burial', 'UK memorial flag', 'UK military burial customs', as well as sifted through UK military websites and veteran sites and read a woman's question about her own father's burial, where it was an Englishman being buried in America.

Thank you for your help!

American Thanksgiving

I've just realized that my Canadian was showing when I was writing.

The character is an American (specifically Georgia) university student home for Thanksgiving and then I realize just how different Canadian Thanksgiving might be from how American's celebrate it. I think it's mostly the Thursday thing that's confusing me seeing as ours is not only celebrated in October but the day itself is a Monday.


My questions:

1. When would a student get off for the holiday? Are different schools different? If so do they very much? What days would someone working a 9-5 job have off (for the characters family)?

2. When would family arrive/when is the Thanksgiving meal typically eaten?

3. What would be a typical travel schedule for family visiting from out of town? Do they travel on Thursday and stay until Sunday or is Thanksgiving over on Thursday?

Any other information about possible differences or traditional celebrations would be great! Thanks in advance :)