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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Thursday, 2 June 2016

OPEN SELECTION PUBLISHED BUT NOT FOR J.P.s

Politicians and therefore governments have become obsessed about representation.  100 years ago they couldn`t give a damn.  Selection from a coterie of public schools, aristocracy, landed gentry and the old boy network was a virtual guarantee of appointment to the upper echelons of the military, judiciary and civil service.  All that fell apart in 1914, received a further push during the Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain national governments which held office from 1931 until 1940, was further sidestepped in 1945 and suffered its near death blow under Harold Wilson.  Ever since 1997 actual positive actions have been taken with varying degrees of success to ensure that in all spheres of our society there was equal opportunity for every individual to rise to his/her maximum potential irrespective of race, creed, colour, sexuality and laterally gender.  As a refreshing example  of this rainbow society, earlier this week we learned that the newly appointed Master of the Rolls is Jewish, is openly gay and  is married subsequent to having been in a civil partnership.    And we know all this because the MOJ has today published  the "Judicial selection and recommendations for appointment statistics April 2015 to March 2016".  

On opening the statistical tables one is presented not only with the ethnic backgrounds of the year`s appointees but also their gender and age.  Not much surprise there then?  The surprise is that that  information is published also of the applicants` eligible pool, numbers of applications and those short listed.   But what is not published is the same subdivisions of those appointed as Justices of the Peace.  Gender, age and ethnicity of magistrates per se has been freely available for many years and although the numbers re J.P.s are much higher than for the paid judiciary I would question this omission.  Government officials and senior judicial figures often correctly use the term "judiciary"  in reference to us, their colleagues on the lowest rung of that profession. J.P.s are subject to the same levels of professional and personal conduct as their full time civil service employed colleagues. And despite the realities, government when it suits its arguments, still refers to magistrates` local representative nature in their communities.  Why then has there not been full disclosure of magisterial applicants` details etc in line with the rest?  Is this not just another indication that local justice for local people is no longer relevant with a third of courts closed and with non local District Judges presiding over ever increasing numbers of courtrooms?

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