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, 11 November 2016

A PAT ON THE BACK





During my time on the bench there were many wasted hours of down time owing to the ineptitude of the court`s listings officer, the CPS,  the defence lawyers involved or a combination of all of those  plus a.n. other cause.   After years of thumb twiddling, endless fill ups of caffeine, conversations sometimes out of politeness with colleagues I resolved to make fairly extensive notes of sittings where I considered there was content of some significance.......at least to me if nobody else.  My memoir below is such an example. 


There are enough opportunities to describe some of the shortcomings of the workings of the magistrates` courts system. Indeed much frustration has been ventilated here but the 10.00a.m. start of a recent sitting demonstrated to me at least a facet of English justice of which I felt justly proud to be a very very small part.

In the witness box with a Spanish interpreter sworn in at hand a young woman recently arrived from South America was to make a statutory declaration. She had recently received a notice from a firm of bailiffs demanding around £600 in fine plus costs for non payment of a fine for a motoring offence. Her declaration stated that for various reasons she had received no earlier notification that any offence had been committed, no demand for payment and queried the offence details themselves. The procedure was carefully explained and translated for her and she left the courtroom with a perfect understanding of what might follow. I thought to myself what other country would provide such a service at no cost to a short term visitor with only her native language available for all but the most basic topics.

1 comment:

  1. And do you feel good about that? I have sat in court and gone through the same procedure for a similar offence. And although I had to go with the flow my underlying feeling was 'what a nonsense this is'. Why do we, as taxpayers, fund this sort of dross? She should get her own interpreter if she needed one. The ushers will tell you afterwards that she will have spoken perfectly good english when they met her in the public area. What fools we are!

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