Of peripheral interest to criminal lawyers are a couple of recent decisions of the United Kingdom Supreme Court.
Prisoners and voting rights
Chester, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Justice  UKSC 63 (16 October 2013) illustrates how an issue that should be resolved in favour of the applicant may not require a remedy. Previous decisions  of the ECtHR, including an appeal from the United Kingdom, had held that denying prisoners the right to vote is a breach of the Convention. The UK legislature is looking at this , and the Supreme Court therefore did not see that a declaration of incompatibility was necessary on the appeals in this case.
The relationship between national courts and the Strasbourg court was considered , and the Supreme Court rejected the respondent's submission that the difference here was over "some fundamental substantive or procedural aspect of our law" sufficient to justify departure from Strasbourg jurisprudence.
Indeed, the issue of removing prisoners' voting rights was  not "fundamental to a stable democracy and legal system such as the United Kingdom enjoys."
Ah yes, thank you Joni Mitchell ...
That is, is the moral value of having the right to vote equivalent to the value of not having the right to vote?
It is difficult to stir up much public discussion about whether prisoners should be deprived of the right to vote. In New Zealand the Electoral Act was recently amended to further strengthen existing restrictions on prisoners' voting rights, so that now anyone detained in prison pursuant to a sentence of imprisonment imposed after 16 December 2010 does not have the right to vote. For an outline of the reasons this might not be appropriate, see the Report of the Law and Order Committee on the Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill, particularly the New Zealand Labour Party minority view.
Sometimes judicial decisions may be made "on the papers" filed by the parties, without the need for an oral hearing of argument. In Osborn v The Parole Board  UKSC 61 (9 October 2013) the Supreme Court considered when an oral hearing would be required by common law procedural fairness.
The Court's press summary sets out the essential points, and they are also summarised in the judgment at .
See also R v Parole Board, ex parte Smith and West  UKHL 1 (27 January 2005), discussed here on 31 January 2005 and see para  of Osborne for administrative developments, R (on application of Hammond) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 69 (1 December 2005), discussed here on 5 December 2005, and Ebanks v R (Cayman Islands)  UKPC 16 (27 March 2006), discussed here on 28 March 2006.
Significantly, the tribunal must "guard against any temptation to refuse oral hearings as a means of saving time, trouble and expense" [2(viii)].
Appellate judges who have the power to deal on the papers with applications for leave to appeal will, no doubt, not need to be reminded of these considerations.