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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Thursday, 24 October 2013


Some of the most powerful unions in the country are no longer those representing the interests of working people in the traditional sense that those millions are not pouring out of factories on a whistle at 5.00p.m. sweat on their brows cigarettes in mouth.  They are organisations like the British Medical Association, The Prison Officers` Association or the Police Federation.  They are tightly controlled and their members have benefitted from their ability to negotiate from strength.  The Magistrates` Association cannot be included in such a group because it represents volunteers and so operates on a shoestring budget each of its 20,000 or so members paying subs of less than £40.   In other respects it has no affinity with other professional unions or associations because it has no brief to represent its members against  employers because we are not employees although the attitude of Her Majesty`s Courts and Tribunal Service is that we are just that;  employees but merely unpaid. So generally speaking with few exceptions magistrates as a group are  not seen and not heard………….except in Dudley.

With the threatened closure of their court the bench has threatened en masse resignations if such action goes ahead. According to my information the Justice Ministry factored in a general J.P. resignation rate of up to 10% as a result of the implementation of court closures.  How many have actually resigned for that reason is unknown and it would be an interesting question for the M.A. to contemplate.  Whilst having great sympathy for my colleagues the paradox is that they would be rubbing their hands in the corridors of Petty France LONDON SW1 at the opportunity to parachute in yet another District Judge(MC) to yet another local justice area.   

Human Rights lawyers and others can huff and puff all day that our Supreme Court should have another tier outside these shores as a final Court of Appeal.  They should stay closer to home and consider the probability that the time is not long away when a single professional judge will be presiding over all matters, including of course trials,  in the magistrates` courts system and not just a minority of cases as is now the position.    What logic then to the continual argument that whatever developments in jurisprudence the totem of trial by jury must be retained……..except when the matter is summary only…………?  

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