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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Monday, 18 May 2015

TRANSFORMING SUMMARY JUSTICE



As far as the magistrates` courts` system it is unlikely that many associated with its workings would consider the Crown Prosecution Service  the most efficient part of that system.  The reasons are many.  Underfunding and the consequent staff reduction of lawyers and clerical staff since 2010 are much to blame.  But also at fault is the internal management system which as part of the civil service would not be tolerated in a well run business.  Of course the organisation is not in being to make a profit and relies upon other incentives to produce the most from the people it employs.  In this regard it fails.  Not unnaturally the MOJ relies on numbers to put its own spin on procedures and outcomes.  A sentence with petard and hoist comes to mind.  I quote below from my post of 20/12/2013:-

“The first three quarters of this year showed there were 117,582 trials of which 52,783 were effective; ie 45%. What is equally interesting is that of the 20,467 ineffective trials (disregarding cracked and vacated trials) tardiness by the CPS or the inability of it to get its witnesses to court was responsible for 5,782 [28%] of those. In 281 instances the CPS prosecutor was engaged in another court and could not proceed with the listed trial.  Ineffective trials as a result of maladministration within the courts system, ie responsibility of HMCTS, numbered  5,733 [28%]   Annotated problems with defence lawyers and/or their clients were responsible for 5,374 ineffective trials.  Of course it must be borne in mind that the “defence” figures are an amalgam of hundreds of disparate organisations none being a monolith like the CPS with a central administration.  Similar percentage figures for the whole of 2011 when the coalition had its feet firmly under the justice table were:-“

Effective trials                                                            44%
Tardiness of CPS as above                                          28%
Maladministration by HMCTS                                    29%

It seems that the CPS is embarking upon yet another initative; Transforming Summary Justice.  It is highly unlikely that the in depth views of those on the bench who will have to apply the intended procedures have been consulted and it is very unlikely that had they been consulted approbation would have been given.

With the increasing numbers of litigants in person appearing before magistrates this so called initiative is probably going to lead to more miscarriages of justices; miscarriages of justice which don`t for obvious reasons make the headlines.  Make no mistake justice for  poor, illiterate, addicted and mentally challenged defendants in this country is being increasingly withheld.  With legal advisors being beholden to their employer, the same employer to which the CPS must kowtow , it is now all the more important for the magistrate chairman of bench to be much more proactive in dealing with those defendants.  S/he must assume the mentality of a continental magistrate in being inquisitorial in his/her approach.  The level playing field is now a concept for legal historians. Equality of arms is now merely a wish for bygone days.  While there is still a Justice of the Peace presiding over a trial there is still the possibility of real justice in the aforementioned circumstances.  I am afraid that I do not have the confidence that all District Judges will approach such events    in a similar manner.



1 comment:

  1. Indeed, DJs are much more tied to obeying the whims of the Ministry of Injustice; one wonders whether the Northern Ireland bakery case might have turned up the same answer with lay justices

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