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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Monday, 4 April 2016


The Code for Crown Prosecutors is not a featherlight document; it should offer to prosecutors most scenarios that CPS has to face. However it does not insist that prosecutions must take place to prevent the CPS being accused of inefficiency or complacency.

Not long ago I was spending a weekend with a  J.P. whose court is about one hundred miles away from my former territory. On the Monday morning as I was about to leave he suggested I visit his court room as an observer where he was to chair his first court since becoming an approved chairman. It was a DV court. I was given the privilege of being a silent occupant of the retiring room when I wasn`t in the public gallery. The case had been previously listed for trial but the complainant and two civilian witnesses had not appeared and it had been adjourned for that Monday. The court was told that the complainant had turned up on a witness summons but would be treated as hostile. The two others, one of whom had been witness summonsed only five days previously, did not appear. CPS admitted that their liason with the witness support unit via the police force had been awry in this case. The officer in the case had no excuses. Two police officers neither of whom had witnessed the alleged assault were available. An adjournment was requested by the CPS and naturally resisted by the defending lawyer. My friend performed exceedingly astutely for a newbie and prised from all parties including the L/A all that was to be prised from the history of the case which went back eight months. The trial went ahead and ended at half time with “no case to answer”.

When we had a chance to discuss it over a coffee before I left for home he told me that the L/A was told informally that CPS went ahead in order that should the defendant be later charged with a serious offence against the complainant CPS would not be shown as shirking their job of protecting or trying to protect complainants in DV cases. Some might consider that that justified CPS but in my opinion it was another example of trying to pursue the ends by whatever means and forgetting that a defendant in this country is innocent until proved guilty.

1 comment:

  1. When you say in your final para that "the CPS went ahead", with what? It requested an adjournment as it has a duty to do so, but it was the Bench (and 10 out of 10 to your new chairman friend) which took the decision to go ahead. JPs are now well-trained in Picton et al and effective case management, which states that a trial should go ahead in the absence of a defendant who has not answered bail, unless it is not in the interests of justice to do so.

    The question one should be asking here is why was the previous listing for the trial adjourned? What interest of justice was the adjournment serving by delaying things?

    As the CPS in our own LJA is well aware, the adjournment request in these scenarios is little more than a token gesture, whatever spin is put on it.