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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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

AND SO ENDS 2014



My last sitting of the year provided a bag well and truly mixed.  With the administration unable to provide more than about two thirds of the courts with benches of three it was inevitable that work was distributed as and where there was capacity to take it even although it required all involved to be available past our closing time of 5.00p.m.

Raymond T was our first customer.  He wished to make five statutory declarations spanning a period from 2000 to 2008.  Owing to the complexity of his history, some apparent mental confusion on his part  and his previous court meetings with the administration deep in the building`s bowels we had quite a number of documents placed before us by the L/A.  His applications were some weeks beyond the 21 days knowledge rule.  For four out of the five he was given the benefit of the doubt based upon much confusion in the chronology  from the court office and various other factors.  He was allowed to proceed out of time. The fifth was shown to be based upon a false statement.  He could not have been unaware of proceedings because documentation showed unequivocally that he had been present in court on that particular day.  He was advised by the L/A of the consequences if he insisted upon applying for that fifth stat. dec.  Wisely he declined.  We ordered him to wait outside the courtroom for the police liaison officer  to “have a chat” with him.      We later were told that the admonishment handed out had had a salutary effect. 

Suspicion of lies being told in the witness box is an everyday occurrence but evidence of such is unusual.  Joanne B was before us to be tried on a s.172....failing to give information.  She was found guilty.  The mandatory six points made her a totter.  Owing to her not being represented and the L/A being a little harassed she was offered an opportunity to plead exceptional hardship before the official disposal had been made.  When being questioned on her application she stated that the loss of her license would mean the loss of her job.  She was informed that that did not constitute exceptional hardship and although she was allowed to ramble to a certain extent she was unable to show anything else  to meet the criteria required.  She then completed her means form which when passed to the bench had nil income declared in the appropriate column. When questioned she told us that she had lost her job in August and was living on her boyfriend`s generosity being yet for some reason to apply for JSA. The bench retired with the L/A to consider this prima facia case of perjury.  The bench was divided and the Christmas spirit prevailed. 

On this unusual day we also undertook some video remand and bail cases from the local nick.  Prisoner DS was down to be sentenced subsequent to having had a PSR undertaken whilst he was Her Majesty`s guest.  His lawyer then told us that he had just found out that that task had not been done.  He was the only person in the courtroom who was aware of that.  We called a probation officer who calmly informed us that the prison authorities had not been able to provide the opportunity on the previously agreed date.  He was surprised at our surprise.  “This is happening all the time”, he said,  “I thought you would have been aware of the situation.”   We inquired why there was not a “Non Report” in front of us or why the court had not been informed.  He shrugged, apologised and asked to leave to attend another matter.

Thank you, readers, for spending some of your precious minutes on this site.  Unless there are very interesting goings on before the year`s end upon which I might be tempted to comment I hope to be back here in 2015.

A Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from J.P.

Monday, 22 December 2014

GOOD RIDDANCE



Over the years magistrates have been removed from the bench for a variety of reasons; some that were arguably perhaps rather petty and others for criminal activity from assault to murder.  But for sheer stupidity the honours must go to this idiot who paraded around on Twitter holding an AK 47.  Maybe he thought he could   intimidate some defendants who might appear before him. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

EQUALITY.......BAH HUMBUG!



I blogged on 25th September on the latest statistics from the MOJ concerning ineffective trials.  Today`s numbers indicate that court maladministration is still responsible for 29% of such failings; a figure which suggests the problem is flatlining.   The costs of such inefficiency can only be guestimated by those professionally involved and/or interested.  It is unlikely that such admissions will ever be available from Petty France, London SW1.  It seems that no senior figures amongst our representatives are willing to articulate that this erosion of competence is a direct result of the cost cutting to a.......some might say......the major pillar supporting our democratic society where all are supposed to be equal before the law.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

WHERE IS THE LAW TAKING US?



I can think of no better reason to refer the reader to my post of  11/03/2014  than the events and comments  in the Family Division of the High Court in London as recently reported in the Independent.

Monday, 15 December 2014

ANOTHER BIG MOUTH



Another unthinking know all  who  thinks  we`re all muppets with our brains up our arses.