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, 2 October 2014


There were four trials listed for the sitting.  Considering a sitting is three hours  the procedural formalities for each trial even that which seems the  simplest on paper can be quite time consuming.  Add to the mix an unrepresented defendant and/or an interpreter both of which are increasingly commonplace and the loosest of schedules can be widely missed.  That it wasn`t was due entirely to the ineptitude, inefficiency and mismanagement of the court`s and CPS administrative staff not excluding those in senior positions who appear to have no idea how to manage inefficient staff or are precluded from so doing by the machinations of the civil service and the associated unions.  We were told that the first matter listed had been discontinued precisely one day previously resulting in the defendant appearing before us at 10.00a.m. with her witness in tow having had no idea of the change.  The letter of discontinuance would not necessarily have been posted immediately the decision had been made. Indeed it was news to the court.  There was no telephone call, text or e mail to the court or defendant.  She was so relieved to be spared the ordeal of defending herself that she refused to apply for her travel expenses for her two hundred mile round trip.    The second trial listed involved a Slovakian accused of a minor traffic offence. He had brought  one witness.  CPS told us there was a single police officer on their side.    The case management form from the first listing at which our L/A had also been the L/A showed quite clearly that a Slovak interpreter was to be ordered by the court.  No such instruction was carried out by the court administration staff whose responsibility it was and so the trial was adjourned despite the bench suggesting that CPS “take a view” insofar as the offence was non endorsable and a police officer had already wasted almost a whole morning.

The remaining   two cases were dealt with but we still managed to end the session ten minutes over time.   This is the reality of a typical sitting in an English court.  There are of course the usual squeals of budgets having been cut by 23% since 2010 and consequent staff reductions of c 10%.  For these reasons it surely behoves management to utilise staff to maximum effect.  Grayling has insisted,  at least in the civil courts, that the courts in his perverse thinking  must pay their way like any other business.  He seems to overlook the fact that no business on earth would allow the mismanagement that occurs behind the scenes of my court or presumably any other.

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