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 April 2015

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND COURTS BILL AND THINGS TO COME



Having left the Bench a short time before I was to be compulsorily removed as being too old, feeble and senile to do the job.........at least according to the Ministry of Justice..........and reading the latest atrocious method the not-so-merry men at the M.O.J. had conjured up for their version of Robin (Grey Thing) Hood who robs from the poor to give to the bankers I wondered whether I could be at peace with myself if I were still to sit in court and required to make the appropriate  pronouncement on the published terms.    My first thoughts of resignation were when the so called victim surcharge was made a requirement.  Obviously I decided against such drastic action but in my pronouncement I substituted the phrase “government imposed surcharge over which we have no control”.  There was the occasional raised eyebrow from the wings and the odd comment from a legal advisor at a post court review but nothing more.   And then came the changes from Michael Gove about the non attendance of children at school becoming almost a crime of strict liability.  Having to find guilty a parent or guardian who had done everything but nail the child`s feet to the floor of the classroom was difficult.  Even a three month conditional discharge and no costs constituted a declarable conviction.  Soon colleagues will be faced with the conditions  of the forthcoming Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.  When c£2billion in unpaid fines and costs is probably never going to be recovered, to impose further financial penalties on a class of people with the least ability to pay is the politics of revenge to put it very mildly.  I do think I would have been pushed over the resignation edge.  But paradoxically if such an action were to be taken by former colleagues and I am almost certain some nearing the end of their tenure will do so it will bring a smirk to the faces of those aforementioned all singing and dancing little men at the M.O.J.   It will be further ammunition in their long term goal to oust Justices of the Peace from our courts and restrict custodial sentencing at least to District Judges(M.C.)  They won`t resign in principle over legislation they find iniquitous; they have their salaries and pensions to consider.  I have endeavoured without success to find out how many if any crown court judges and higher have resigned their position over a matter of principle insofar as disagreeing with the legislation they have to uphold.  The conclusion must be that we are sleepwalking into dangerous constitutional territory.  The non report in today`s media of the trial of “not proven to be a terrorist”  Erol Incedal is but a foretaste of  things surely  to come.   

2 comments:

  1. Victim surcharge? Sounds like a tax to me.

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  2. Master Ball resigned as a High Court master in the late 70s or early 80s over the removal of the Queen from the Writ of Summons. I am not particularly aware of later judicial resignations on a matter of principle.

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