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, 28 June 2016

LAY BENCHES FACE MORE CRITICISM

I am not a supporter of Howard League.  That organisation or more exactly a one woman band lobbying machine,   would abolish any custodial sentence of less than twelve months.  In a paradoxical fashion it fits in to some extent with the Magistrates Association desire to increase to that very same number the maximum sentence in the lower court from the current six.  In her latest pitch for parliamentary support Frances Crook cites M.P. David Lammy and his remarks to the Criminal Justice Alliance  itself a lobby group. It is noted that two of its trustees are its chairman and treasurer.  The voice behind another lobbying organisation Transform Justice is also a trustee.  But to return to Mr Lammy and his comments: as an experienced parliamentarian his speech and particularly his observations pp4 make unsupported detail into "facts" worthy of repetition.........exactly what he questioned a few lines previously.  This is the same David Lammy who called for a second referendum within 36 hours  of the LEAVE  vote being officially confirmed.  

As the numbers of District Judges(M.C.), currently 139 and a slightly higher number  of Deputy District Judges preside over an increasing share of the cases before magistrates` courts it follows that any analyses of results of magistrates` courts will have results where either a lay bench or a professional single judge was presiding.  A detailed investigation into all the functions at magistrates` courts  was made in 2011 not without resulting controversy.  As far as I am aware (and would be happy to be informed otherwise) there is no substantive answer to the question of the proportion of prosecutions before a lay or professional bench.  

There has always been comment about justice as dispensed by Justices of the Peace; some worthy of debate but most appearing to be  examples of prejudice.  Until the rump of J.P.s over the next decade is reduced to sitting only on out of court matters there will continue to be lobbyists plying their trade with the cover of the Charities Commission to ease their costs seeking to finally extinguish a centuries old system of summary justice.

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