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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


I have generally thought that to become the Lord Chief Justice the prime requisite over and above legal knowledge should be wisdom.  

noun: wisdom
t the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.

"listen to his words of wisdom"

synonyms:sagacity, sageness, intelligence, understanding, insight, perception, perceptiveness, percipience, penetration, perspicuity, acuity, discernment, sense, good sense, common sense, shrewdness, astuteness, acumen, smartness, judiciousness, judgement, foresight, clear-sightedness, prudence, circumspection; More
logic, rationale, rationality, soundness, saneness, advisability;
informalsavvy, smarts;
raresapience, arguteness

"a number of senior politicians questioned the wisdom of the decision"
antonyms:stupidity, folly
the fact of being based on sensible or wise thinking.

"some questioned the wisdom of building the dam so close to an active volcano"
synonyms:sagacity, sageness, intelligence, understanding, insight, perception, perceptiveness, percipience, penetration, perspicuity, acuity, discernment, sense, good sense, common sense, shrewdness, astuteness, acumen, smartness, judiciousness, judgement, foresight, clear-sightedness, prudence, circumspection;


1. the quality or state of being wise; sagacity, discernment, or insight.
2. scholarly knowledge or learning.
3. wise sayings or teachings; precepts.
4. a wise act or saying.
[before 900; Middle English, Old English wīsdōm; see wise1, -dom]

We all know of those who are very clever but where wisdom would not be an adjective we would use in their profile.  As a mouse may criticise a king this blogger mouse  suggests that the Lord Chief Justice shows little wisdom in his suggestion that magistrates` courts` hearings could be held in pubs and hotels.  

I know pubs and hotel bars can sometimes have rowdy customers but I don`t think they have built in cells to house such unruly people or those awaiting transport to prison.  Roomsand facilities for witnesses and defendants, lawyers and all the other attendees are likely to be in short supply.  Readers will be able to imagine the many obstacles to such an inane suggestion.

But his Lordship is not the first to offer such ridiculous a suggestion. On 20th January 2010 in this blog on its previous now unavailable site I posted the following copied below.........nuff said.

At various times in the 650 year old history of the institution of local Magistrates the post itself has been been brought nearer to "the people". A century ago especially outside London the local "bigwig" interesting term in itself meaning important person.....was the Magistrate. It was only after the Great War of 1914-18 that women were able to acquire the initials J.P. Since the 1960s great efforts have been made to open up the magistracy to ordinary folk doing ordinary jobs but who have the extraordinary skills required to sit in judgement over their fellow citizens. The underlying ethos is that justice should be brought right into the community so that it is carried out simply and speedily to punish wrong doers and satisfy those who have suffered from the wrong doing.

Currently the Ministry of Justice is experimenting with "virtual" courts; effectively mini courts within police stations linked to "proper" courts by CCTV. This is highly controversial and has been criticised by many lawyers and magistrates although generally welcomed by police.

Now the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police has suggested that shopping centres – and he wants Manchester's Arndale to be the first – should contain mini magistrates courts which would try shoplifters on the spot and maybe even a mini-police station with holding cells. We are told this instant "try and fine" regime would be preferable to taking suspects to a police station to be charged and then waiting a week for them to appear at court, plead guilty and be fined according to national sentencing guidelines. John Thornhill, chairman of the Magistrates Association, was quoted as saying: "We need to be taking justice to communities and it seems to me having a court in the Arndale Centre would be one way of doing it. In principle, if we can deal with things speedily and pragmatically we are happy to do that." Not all agree. This observer is of the opinion that at a time when the Ministry of Justice is considering closing one third of existing courts to save money it makes no sense whatsoever to attempt to establish what could only become an ineffectual minimum apology for a court with or without a Costa Coffee and a Subway nearby for lunch.

Also sceptical was Mike Mackey, ex president of the Manchester Law Society who was quoted as saying, "Are the magistrates going to have a shop window in Boots? This is the chief constable shooting from the hip. It all sounds very wonderful but there are a couple of problems with it. First, if police arrest someone it doesn't necessarily mean they are guilty. Before they get to charging anyone they have to be interviewed under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and require access to a lawyer. Are they going to be in the Arndale Centre too? My worry is these will be kangaroo courts."

So with apologies to the kangaroos I would opine that this is another attempt by a government trying to pull back from properly funding our Criminal Justice System because our current Prime Minister willfully and arrogantly enjoyed ten years spending our taxes in a manner which was not just imprudent but almost criminally deceitful, a government trying to obtain short term headlines that "it is acting on crime and the causes of crime" in conjunction with a police service which with some honourable exceptions does not understand the term "police state" and thinks it begins with jackboots and dungeons when in reality it begins when the rights of ordinary innocent law abiding citizens are made sub servient to the "efficiency" of an all mighty state and ends with jackboots and dungeons.

1 comment:

  1. His Lordship's suggestion is not as daft as it sounds - magistrates, after all, sat in public houses for decades before court buildings were erected to house them. In Buckinghamshire, for instance, The Bell at Winslow, the Crown at Stony Stratford, The Pheasant at Brill, and The Kings Head in Aylesbury all served as magistrates' courts until courthouses were built alongside police stations. They were, of course, police courts in those days, so the strong arm of the law was ever present.

    But a number of our downgraded magistrate courts already no longer have cell facilities, so if you want to remand or imprison a client, sentencing has to be adjourned to a court which has such security - it happens frequently. So things won't be that much different if we return to the tap room of the Slug and Lettuce (or perhaps the Crown and Defence?) But it's not just cells - what about ejudiciary wifi which the MoJ has just spent millions installing in courts which are now listed to close, security for the magistrates and witnesses, etc etc etc?