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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.
Friday, 28 December 2018
Monday, 24 December 2018
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
We view diversity as fundamental to our success. To tackle today’s complex policing challenges, we need a diverse workforce made up from all communities. Applications from across the community are therefore essential.[my underline]
Tuesday, 18 December 2018
Thursday, 13 December 2018
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
There are times when I read of sentencing practices at magistrates courts that I despair. There is no doubt whatsoever that the law is being brought into contempt, if not literally but certainly metaphorically. There are those who would abolish custodial sentences of less than six months. Two responses come to mind; increase minimum sentences to six months which has no possibility of enactment or admit that the idea of public protection does not have a place in sentencing guidelines. Pressure upon pressure has been placed upon the courts to prevent offenders being sent to custody. There are low level recidivists who are beyond redemption under current thinking. I have long suggested that workhouses [for various posts put workhouse in search box] designed for this century where under lock and key inmates can be made to undergo cold turkey regimes to rid them of their drug and/or alcohol habit which drive more than 70% of crime much of which the establishment describes as low level. Such criminality affects ordinary people much more than it touches on the lives of those who make the rules. The example of this scumbag serves to illustrate all too clearly how inadequate are some courts. To suspend his sentence flies in the face of common sense. Ooooops! I forgot; common sense is not a requirement for magistrates in this era of sensitivity and safe space political agitation. .
Monday, 10 December 2018
In the last three weeks four magistrates have been disciplined by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office. As is always the pattern very few details are published. The whole disciplinary process is cloaked in secrecy. This involves proceedings more suited to the 1950s than 2018. Both from the point of the view of the public and the good name of those sanctioned there at least should be the opportunity for the latter to explain their position to a wider audience if so desired. The Law Society Gazette has a similar take on this subject in its article published at the weekend.
Thursday, 6 December 2018
Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Friday, 30 November 2018
I retired from the bench in the early part of 2015. Even then it was becoming apparent that in my opinion a real risk of justice not just being seen to be done but not being done per se was staring me in the face at almost every sitting. It did not happen by calculation but I realised that my manner when presiding over cases involving unrepresented defendants was changing ever so subtly. The traditional approach of seeking only "clarification" when directly questioning a witness had occasionally to be sidestepped to avoid a possible or probable miscarriage of justice. In that year I posted twice on this subject.
Similar problems have almost certainly been presented to judges at crown court. How many have gone unreported is anyone`s guess but recently none other than a High Court judge His Honour Judge Matthews has been castigated by the Appeal Court for his inquisitorial approach to an unrepresented defendant. The Law Society Gazette has a recent report.
There is no doubt that very soon those law lords who offer guidance often only when they are retired will provoke discussion around the very basis of trial law in England. My personal justification for sometimes incurring the disapproval of legal advisors was that I would rather push the boundaries of what was hitherto acceptable practice than see a possibly innocent person convicted because s/he was unable to construct the vital question or interpret the obvious flaw which would have exposed the CPS case`s failings. HH Judge Matthews deserves the support of all those with similar opinions.
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Tuesday, 27 November 2018
The Ministry of Justice and the Home Office has since 2010 cut to the bone the resources necessary for the justice system to function for all of us; law abiding citizens, defendants and witnesses and those who work within the whole system. This recent case is a perfect example.
Monday, 26 November 2018
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Monday, 19 November 2018
Most but not all these offences are too serious to be heard in the magistrates court. The report of a recent case at Caernarfon magistrates court fails to mention which actual offence was committed by the offender but was likely to be the offence copied below. The appropriate CPS guideline is also available below.
SENTENCING GUIDELINE EXTRACT
RANGE OF SEXUAL OFFENCES
Thursday, 15 November 2018
Monday, 12 November 2018
Friday, 9 November 2018
Tuesday, 6 November 2018
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
PS The court reporter appears to forgotten how to add up. 8 penalty points as reported plus an additional 3 would not have reached the threshold for disqualification which is 12. Notwithstanding the error my post does pose a reasonable question.
Monday, 29 October 2018
Results from Kirklees and neighbouring magistrates courts make interesting reading. Some readers might discern a pattern in or between courts` decisions; some might find the sentencing insufficiently severe or unjustifiably less than they would have applied. The current sentencing guidelines are available here. Whatever the subjective opinion there is no doubt that political considerations are driving sentencing every bit as much as judicially conceived desirable outcomes.
Friday, 26 October 2018
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Breakdown in society does not necessarily come about by riots, marches, terrorism or even political corruption: it occurs when public faith in the administration of the nuts and bolts of our society leads to a feeling of impotence by Tom, Dick and Harriot. It is already happening in policing where attitudes similar to those of black Americans will spread to all areas and all sub groups of our society. As a Conservative IMHO this is all as a result of unbridled rampaging capitalism being allowed to gorge itself beyond healthy limits. It has allowed those ignorant of the effects of Marxism to follow a cult leader like the children followed the pied piper. Just call me JP aka Jeremiah`s Prophesies.
Thursday, 18 October 2018
It seems that the Law Society and senior police officials are getting together to spread the word that falling numbers of crown court prosecutions are not some statistical accident or an indication that society is becoming more observant of the law. No; the numbers are indicative of fewer police to catch the miscreants in the first place and fewer police to process the cases for the CPS which is not itself directly criticised but as those in the legal world know only too well that organisation having been down sized by more than 10% in funds and personnel in a decade is not without culpability. See these press releases of the last few days from Devon, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, North Wales, and Warwickshire. An obvious PR exercise against austerity but how much did it cost and by whom was it sanctioned?
Monday, 15 October 2018
Such flagrant bullying of a minor should not be concluded with just a rap across the legal knuckles. He should be charged with misconduct. If it were a magistrate making those remarks s/he would be on the scrapheap in short order. Whether it is right that part time unpaid lay J.P.s should be dealt with on a different basis from full or part time professional judiciary is another matter to be debated at another time.
Saturday, 13 October 2018
Friday, 12 October 2018
Altogether this year twelve Justices of the Peace have been removed from the magistracy the majority for failing to sit the minimum meagre requirement of a half day every fortnight; a schedule which does not allow the skills or knowledge necessary to be embodied in a lay magistrate sitting as a winger and is scandalously too little for a chairman to acquire the skills required. These numbers are not unusual. Every month JPs are thrown out for their unwillingness to devote the time required; a commitment that every appointments committee must surely emphasise. So why does it happen? It is a total waste of time and money to appoint and train somebody who fails at such a predictable hurdle.
Like so much else within the MOJ`s empire the magistracy I believe is slowly being allowed to whither on the vine. When it finally is killed off in its traditional form our legal system will be so much the poorer.
Wednesday, 10 October 2018
Not being sufficiently techie the link below should enable access of pdf. document.
The Management of Prisoners that present a risk of escape or violence ...
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
Most generally law abiding citizens come into contact with police only for traffic matters. Police constables having survived intensive scrutiny to be accepted, with their extensive training in the classroom and on the job learn how to handle the sensitive interface between them and the public; whether a firm warning is sufficient right up to the powers of arrest. My experience in practice and whilst on the bench is that PCSOs lack such judgement. That`s not surprising considering the low level of academic requirement and a starting salary of £19,500 maximum. Now these assistant police officers by any other name are being given enhanced powers by a constabulary which Her Majesty`s Inspector of Constabulary concluded was below the "must do better" level of a school report card.
This is the time we live in when a former home secretary applying the rules of austerity recently agreed with the then 2018 home secretary Amber Rudd that rising crime bears no relationship to the decimation in the numbers of police officers and that government funding had increased.
Never was the phrase "government that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" more applicable.........with apologies to Oscar Wilde.
Monday, 24 September 2018
Thursday, 20 September 2018
On 14th June I posted on the MOJ`s search for a "national leadership magistrate". Since then all but one regional leadership toads have been appointed.
If there are any doubters that the end of the magistracy as it has been known for over 600 years is on the horizon they should re-examine the political history of the organisation and its ancillary duties over the last twenty years. I made my first of many comments on the demise of an independent magistracy almost as soon as I began blogging as Justice of the Peace in 2009 (at a now defunct site). This total potential control by HMCTS surely points to the eventual wiping out of the Magistrates Association as a point of influence. But what kind of person signs up to be a government lackey? I can only assert that those with the attributes to be politicians or regional leadership magistrates are the very people whose personalities indicate that they should not actually do those jobs. I term this the paradox of personality.
Wednesday, 19 September 2018
The only offence I can perceive is to the common sense of police officers and to the tax payers of Leicester. That wonderful sixties blues band The Animals had it just right; "Don`t let me be misunderstood".
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
“Legally two cases stand out. The first at the beginning of the year; a case of two black defendants being accused of causing harassment, alarm and distress to two police officers with three other officers as witnesses. We decided there was no case to answer. This was my first trial. It was a rude awakening to how the police can operate against “short tempered” innocent blacks and how the rules governing the threat to use CS gas were disregarded. I wonder if the defendants considered that a white, middle class middle aged bench believed their story to the exclusion of the police evidence and whether it was a topic amongst their friends or family that might indicate that the courts were not biased against them”.
The above sitting was prior to the murder of Stephen Lawrence.