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, 26 February 2016

PLANE STUPID OR INTELLECTUAL ARROGANCE

This morning I thought I had decided on the topic for today`s posting; that is until something far more interesting opened up on my screen.

My personal experiences of the District Judges who were allocated to my court over the years whilst I was sitting were nothing less than very satisfactory.  They dallied in the retiring room most mornings and occasionally during their downtimes; they were always more than ready to advise on the law generally and in particular cases or areas.  They assisted in many training sessions and were a source of much knowledge and advice that I and others were able to put to good use.  Some have gone now to crown court or higher tribunals. 

On February 24th thirteen offenders appeared for sentencing before District Judge Wright sitting at Willesden Magistrates Court. They had been found guilty after trial on two counts;  namely aggravated trespass contrary to section 68(1) and (3) of the Criminal Justice and Public order Act 1994 and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome without permission contrary to section 21C(1)(a) of the Aviation Security Act 1982. Their thought processes and justification for their actions I suppose can be determined by reading their propaganda at Plane Stupid.  Although in theory District Judges have no more authority in a magistrates` court than Justices of the Peace a long considered justification for their presiding over a trial rather than their lay colleagues is when the case might be of a few days` duration and/or where the law involved might be of such a nature that it required a professional legally qualified individual to hear it. Such was the matter which caught my attention.  Magistrates` Courts are not normally courts of record although remarks at high profile cases at Westminster Magistrates` Court are occasionally published in full in the national media. The above mentioned sentencing two days ago was preceded by an extremely lucid and forensic explanation by D.J. Wright.  I have no doubt that no lay bench whilst perhaps able to determine the facts would have been suitable for such a sentencing exercise. The transcript of her remarks is  available here.

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