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.
Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.
Monday, 28 December 2015
PROBLEM SOLVING COURTS AND FURTHER THOUGHTS
The above is a quote by Malcolm Richardson chairman of the Magistrates Association commenting on another proposal from America. From which analysis of magistrates` opinions he can make such assertions I know not. On 7th December I posted critical comments on this so called initiative from the USA. Whilst I am a great admirer of that nation and its people, apart from wispy haired billionaires with mouths wider than the Grand Canyon, the ever admiring justice ministers who return from its shores with great new ideas are a source of mystery to me. Prisons, sentencing, probation etc have all been supposedly informed by practices in America. It would appear that Michael Gove and his advisors have been hypnotised by yet another American justice process. Perhaps the esteemed transatlantic visitor does not realise that our 19,000 magistrates are volunteers required to offer only 26 half days yearly spread over adult, youth and family court. I am not the only J.P. past or present who considers that, particularly for court chairmen, that requirement is too few to attain and retain competence in the management of a court. Of more import, however, is the proposed function itself. To become enhanced social workers instead of finders of fact and sentencers would be a change too many for many existing and aspiring Justices of the Peace. Indeed such a fundamental change in our courtrooms would lead to yet more Deputy District Judges (M.C.) being appointed and a further diminution of magistrates` functions.
Once again magistrates are in danger of being led by the nose to surrender their primary function; to manage the court, to be finders of fact and to sentence the offender when required.