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, 8 December 2015

CAN WE TRUST JUDGES?

Very occasionally this blog has commented upon the idiosyncratic nature of a judge`s sentencing or comments at the crown court.  But when such a judge is reported by two newspapers serving the same locality on two different cases in one day it is worth noting.

It would seem to me that Judge David Ticehurst was putting his own preferences ahead of the public interest.  In this matter of burglary the non imposition of even custody suspended was a travesty.  His closing remarks reported as, "I'm giving you a chance. Turn your life round. Get back on track. Don't get back to your old ways. You're not a very good burglar anyway because you get caught." seem to belong to another age. The good judge`s apparent benevolence that day took his idiosyncrasy a little bit further along a path of irrationality that veered to the downright inappropriate when he advised an offender how to avoid the criminal courts charge.

Now  the whole legal profession particularly judges at all levels are expressing their satisfaction that the criminal courts charge is being discontinued.  Where were they all early this year when magistrates individually, on line and organisationally were expressing their views that the charge was in principle unsupportable and a carbuncle on the face of justice?  They were as silent as the grave at least in public. Shame on all of them especially when there are apparently cogent arguments re the substitution of a British bill of human rights for its European equivalent. How much faith can be placed in their hands to be an adequate replacement? Trust is built like a house......with a foundation upon which brick by brick and piece by piece  it is strong enough to withstand the many forces nature sends against it. In short; can the ordinary citizen with eg threats to the Freedom of Information Act and the Leveson recommendations  trust judges to protect us from the state`s iniquities?

 

3 comments:

  1. Judge Ticehurst is sailing pretty close to the wind in warning convicted offenders that they may be able to avoid the Criminal Courts charge by prevaricating until after the December 24 repeal date. Us mere mortal magistrates have no option but to set the fine and costs payment rate before the client has left the courtroom, and short of turning them upside down and seeing what money falls out of their pockets, we fix the fortnightly payment rate and the date upon which it starts. If on benefits, the fines will be paid directly from those, and the offender is not released until we have his/her national insurance number. Robust, and it does work, but there is no question of delaying the fines or costs, or even of adjourning sentencing until after December 24 - our Justice's Clerk has already warned the bench on that one...

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    1. I guess I must be wrong, but I thought that whether the Charge would apply or not would depend on the date of conviction. If prior to the 24th then the Charge applies and post-24th it doesn't. On that basis the date of sentencing would be irrelevant as far the Charge was concerned. Am I wrong?

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  2. Good point Anon. But the presumption is that when the CCC is repealed, then it would no longer be applicable on or after December 24. Interestingly we still have many cases of offences committed before April 13 2015 when CCC first came into effect coming through the courts, either because of delays in charging, delays because of trial listing or occasionally because the defendant did a runner and has only just been apprehended.

    Now that Mr Gove has publicly asked magistrates who resigned over this issue to return to the bench, will he also give all those saddled with this iniquitous charge a refund of what they have already paid?

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