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, 17 January 2014


On the few occasions when I am sitting in our remand court and on the 60% of those sittings when I am in the middle chair the business of actually running what is still termed a “magistrates` court”  comes alive… least for me.  Decision making is usually made with the confirmation of colleagues` opinions.  Having their trust and co-operation goes a very long way to what can only be described as a successful sitting.  Having them prepared with their ipads or equivalents pre programmed is of inestimable assistance. We retired only on one occasion  and that for about three minutes.  Verbal exchange with lawyers of both sides can be revealing.  There are those defence advocates who still behave as if we are, so I have been informed, “Muppets” and who address us in such a form that they consider the result a foregone conclusion or who fail to realise that their references to “Picton” or “Povey”  are cases of which we do indeed have knowledge. There are still occasions when CPS prosecutors consider that their institutional failings are a cover for adjournments.    

My last such sitting had the usual mix of overnight custody cases the most interesting of which was a UK citizen arrested at a nearby airport two days previously having just arrived from a country within the E.U.  She was charged with an indictable only offence allegedly committed two years previously and appeared before us represented by a very eloquent barrister.  His client had been sentenced to a twelve year stretch some fifteen years ago and upon her release had then emigrated to said European state where the weather is kinder to over fifty year old ex villains with or without their ill gotten gains.  We were surprised that within two days of her arrest police and CPS were confident enough to lay a very serious charge on her.   Her counsel did his very best offering everything but  the kitchen sink in acceptable conditions for her to be remanded on bail. Unfortunately they were not enough to allay our fears that she would, given half a chance, abscond.  No doubt a judge at Crown Court has now heard his plea on her behalf.  Sometimes our lack of continuity in a case can be a cause for regret but on the other hand………………….

1 comment:

  1. I get the impression that there are a significant number of cases where those charged with very serious offences such as large scale supply of drugs, money laundering, robbery etc are being sought here or overseas and by no means all have absconded from custody. As these must have been matters heard or due to be heard at CC, does this mean that CC judges are more inclined to grant bail than the lower courts?