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, 3 March 2015


Sometimes the progress of a case through the magistrates` court is so bizarre as to be beyond the wit of man.  Such was the situation in my trial court a couple of weeks ago.  We sat in our usual lofty position so that seated our heads were level with those standing before us.  The common assault in a domestic setting had, according to preparation for trial form previously known in 2014 as case management form .......oh how civil servants love to make unnecessary name changes to procedures or forms to validate their life on this Earth.......... required the court to make provision for a Punjabi interpreter  for the defendant.  On such a person failing to have appeared since being tannoyed every five minutes since 1.30p.m. an urgent request was telephoned at 2.05p.m.  We were told a replacement was nearby and that his E.T.A.  was 2.50p.m.  At that point CPS got to her feet to inform us that her witness`s interpreter was present but  that her  single witness the complainant (wife) had not only failed to appear but had made a withdrawal statement a few days after her original statement.  She had not responded to telephone contacts or personal visit by police since that second statement.  A penny was seen to drop into the mind of our L/A who had been perusing the “form”. Receiving confirmation that CPS had also ordered a Punjabi interpreter   she suggested that s/he be made available for the defendant. This was accepted and a call went out.  Our L/A cancelled the interpreter who was on his way.  After we had returned from five minutes downtime CPS in a fluster told us that unbeknown to her,  her interpreter had been released from the proceedings and had left the building.  On the bench three heads visibly drooped with three intakes of breath. Our L/A made a call to replacement  interpreter who, fortunately was quite near when asked to cancel and was now quite happy to fulfil his original contract.  As good as his word he appeared shortly after 3.00p.m. and stood in the dock with the defendant.  Expectation now was that CPS would have made an application to proceed on hearsay evidence or to adjourn.  She chose the latter option which was rejected whereupon she told us she could proceed no further without authority from reviewing lawyer at CPS.  With a note of surprise the chairman stated that never in such a circumstance had such an observation been made to him previously.  Ten minutes later she returned to tell the court she was offering no evidence.  The case was duly dismissed.  Another defendant in a DV matter had been pursued in the knowledge that the case was unlikely to be proved owing to the determined and known intention of the complainant to refuse to give evidence against her husband.  Was this in the public interest; a hurdle that CPS must overcome in order to proceed? It appears that many such cases are driven as much by political considerations as by strength of evidence.  The interpreter was happy.  He was being paid when he thought he had lost out.

1 comment:

  1. I don't agree that your example shows any evidence of political motivation. No doubt the evidence was sufficient quality before the withdrawal. We need much more support for partners to maintain their evidence, otherwise they are inevitably at risk of subversion by partner, family or community.