Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.
Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.
Thursday, 13 December 2018
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
There are times when I read of sentencing practices at magistrates courts that I despair. There is no doubt whatsoever that the law is being brought into contempt, if not literally but certainly metaphorically. There are those who would abolish custodial sentences of less than six months. Two responses come to mind; increase minimum sentences to six months which has no possibility of enactment or admit that the idea of public protection does not have a place in sentencing guidelines. Pressure upon pressure has been placed upon the courts to prevent offenders being sent to custody. There are low level recidivists who are beyond redemption under current thinking. I have long suggested that workhouses [for various posts put workhouse in search box] designed for this century where under lock and key inmates can be made to undergo cold turkey regimes to rid them of their drug and/or alcohol habit which drive more than 70% of crime much of which the establishment describes as low level. Such criminality affects ordinary people much more than it touches on the lives of those who make the rules. The example of this scumbag serves to illustrate all too clearly how inadequate are some courts. To suspend his sentence flies in the face of common sense. Ooooops! I forgot; common sense is not a requirement for magistrates in this era of sensitivity and safe space political agitation. .
Monday, 10 December 2018
In the last three weeks four magistrates have been disciplined by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office. As is always the pattern very few details are published. The whole disciplinary process is cloaked in secrecy. This involves proceedings more suited to the 1950s than 2018. Both from the point of the view of the public and the good name of those sanctioned there at least should be the opportunity for the latter to explain their position to a wider audience if so desired. The Law Society Gazette has a similar take on this subject in its article published at the weekend.
Thursday, 6 December 2018
Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Friday, 30 November 2018
I retired from the bench in the early part of 2015. Even then it was becoming apparent that in my opinion a real risk of justice not just being seen to be done but not being done per se was staring me in the face at almost every sitting. It did not happen by calculation but I realised that my manner when presiding over cases involving unrepresented defendants was changing ever so subtly. The traditional approach of seeking only "clarification" when directly questioning a witness had occasionally to be sidestepped to avoid a possible or probable miscarriage of justice. In that year I posted twice on this subject.
Similar problems have almost certainly been presented to judges at crown court. How many have gone unreported is anyone`s guess but recently none other than a High Court judge His Honour Judge Matthews has been castigated by the Appeal Court for his inquisitorial approach to an unrepresented defendant. The Law Society Gazette has a recent report.
There is no doubt that very soon those law lords who offer guidance often only when they are retired will provoke discussion around the very basis of trial law in England. My personal justification for sometimes incurring the disapproval of legal advisors was that I would rather push the boundaries of what was hitherto acceptable practice than see a possibly innocent person convicted because s/he was unable to construct the vital question or interpret the obvious flaw which would have exposed the CPS case`s failings. HH Judge Matthews deserves the support of all those with similar opinions.
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Tuesday, 27 November 2018
The Ministry of Justice and the Home Office has since 2010 cut to the bone the resources necessary for the justice system to function for all of us; law abiding citizens, defendants and witnesses and those who work within the whole system. This recent case is a perfect example.
Monday, 26 November 2018
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Monday, 19 November 2018
Most but not all these offences are too serious to be heard in the magistrates court. The report of a recent case at Caernarfon magistrates court fails to mention which actual offence was committed by the offender but was likely to be the offence copied below. The appropriate CPS guideline is also available below.
SENTENCING GUIDELINE EXTRACT
RANGE OF SEXUAL OFFENCES