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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Friday, 10 July 2015

MUSINGS ON FRIDAY

Yesterday`s blog by Jack of Kent is as well presented a narrative of the current situation re legal aid, or rather the lack of it, as I have read.  The practical results of legal professionals making clear their disdain for what is happening in our courts were  yesterday`s actions in Liverpool and Newcastle.  I wonder when a magistrates bench will at least discuss the possibility of withholding  their court presence for just a single sitting.  Or perhaps a member of the Justices Clerks Society will stand at a bench meeting and order said bench not to discuss such matters.  Indeed some years ago such an individual attempted to stop discussion at a bench meeting where I had proposed a vote on a particular topic by trying to overrule the Chairman of the Bench.  He failed.   Justices of the Peace are in a unique position to echo a "community" view.  After all isn`t the mantra "local justice for local people".

Disciplinary hearings for most professional bodies take place in public and that is as it should be.  But there is a glaring exception and that is for police officers although recently the rules have been changedThese are two of the first cases that can be reported.  But if you`re a Chief Constable and found guilty of misconduct at a closed hearing you can get your job back because the misconduct wasn`t "gross". 

For many years on my former bench Friday mornings in Court 6 were video courts where bail applications would be heard.  In the often chaotic situations at the two or three prisons which served the area it would be no surprise to be told by a prison officer that prisoner Q was not on their list of appearances and indeed was not listed as being in the prison at all.  Often the session would close where nobody.....the prison in question and the other similar establishments and also the solicitor representing knew the current whereabouts of Q.  It seems the opposite happened at Pentonville Prison in London who had a prisoner they did not realise was in their care.  Well...........nobody`s perfect..........

The final observation for today comprises a case that included that most common of sex offences, the iniquitous newly functioning court charge and the rather peculiar question put to the offender by a bench chairman.  The offender might be thought to have gotten off lightly for being convicted of exposure but his financial burden for escaping a more onerous and serious disposal will be a reminder for some time unless as is so often the case he fails to keep up the payment schedule.  But what really sets this case apart from most are the quoted remarks of the bench chairman who must have had a senior moment....."  Before the magistrates retired Mr Cinammon asked Gawronski if he had a large penis. He replied: “I have a little bit more but I do not know. Do you need to know the size?”  The report is here


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