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.





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Friday, 30 August 2013

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE FOR THE CPS




Almost four years and around 1,200 posts is a lot of bytes.  I have no inclination to count how many of these were concerned with the Crown Prosecution Service but it is likely to be in two figures. And the reason is not difficult to find: that organisation plays such a mammoth part in the daily system of justice being done and being seen to be done in magistrates` courts that its failings have repercussions right down to the loudmouth in the pub who boasts of having “got away with it”; “it” being an offence of which he should have been but was not found guilty.  This week my sitting witnessed (at least from the bench) such a scenario.



It was a prosecution (CPS) application to admit “bad character” at a trial listed for a fortnight hence.  It was a third listing.  The only problem for the CPS was that the application was over a month out of time. As the prosecutor stood and began to explain the reasons for the application our legal advisor thrust the actual form detailing the application on to the bench.  Counsel for the defendant started to rise whereupon bench chairman motioned him to sit and told the prosecutor to begin by applying for permission to bring the application out of time. In a nutshell prosecutor who was an agent had no plausible explanation except to fall back on the truism of the CPS being under such pressures that procedures are continually being overlooked  and/or being left to last minute review.  Unsurprisingly defence counsel opposed the application with some vigour. We rejected the application.  However we had, as previously mentioned, been prematurely presented with the details of the defendant`s history of convictions of a similar nature to that of which he was currently awaiting trial. His propensity of offending was such that had his bad character evidence been available for CPS to present to the forthcoming trial bench his chances of acquittal would have  almost certainly been  reduced.  So it is not unlikely that the troubles with the CPS  have affected the course of justice being  done.   And this is not an isolated example; just the latest to persuade me to put fingers to keyboard.

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