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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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

DUE LEGAL PROCESS





Freedom of the press is once more a hot topic. But perhaps of equal import is the sometimes careless sub editing of articles or their headlines. From time to time as J.P.s we are responsible for the granting or refusal of search warrants for which police have applied. We (or sometimes a single Justice) will review the merits of what is placed before us and decide whether or not the information is fit for purpose. In my court this procedure is usually conducted after the court has been cleared for obvious reasons of security.

In Yeovil, District Judge Maurice Champion must have heard an application to close down an alleged crack house in open court such is the lengthy report of the proceedings in the local on-line “This is Somerset”. Note the article`s headline:- “Judge refuses to shut alleged crack house”. The very fact that the judge refused to accept the allegation leads logically to question that headline. The impression from its double negative connotation is of a judge failing in his duty to assist police and so failing the local neighbourhood. The sub editors seem to have overlooked the minor constitutional point that judges (and magistrates) are in post to ensure that due legal process is observed.
 

If the day comes when judges are merely rubberstamping the demands of police or government this country will really have hit rock bottom.

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