Friday, October 02, 2015

Compassion? What's That?

This is the disturbing tale of an experienced magistrate whose sympathy for a down-and-out defendant got him into hot water.

The report speaks for itself, I can see the logic behind the official response, but it seems to have been a little heavy-handed.

I am reminded of a case well over a decade ago when a poor deserted woman was prosecuted for a car-related offence that was basically down to her ratbag boyfriend. Nevertheless, the bench was obliged to impose a fine and costs, totalling, as was the case in those days, about £40. One magistrate, who had better remain nameless, found this preying on his mind, and at the lunch break sought out a respected probation officer and asked her, on conditions of total secrecy, to take the cash to the court office, describing it as an anonymous  donation from a well-wisher. As far as I an aware, that was the end of it, Probation officers can be trusted to keep their mouths shut, and that avoided the flat feet of the authorities getting involved.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Worth a Read

Here is an informed view of the iniquities being perpetrate by the Ministry of "Justice"


Friday, September 18, 2015

Pognophobia Rampant

This is not a political blog, although I have been interested in politics for all of my adult life.

Here is a minor but useful axiom:-

 Any article about Corbyn that refers to the fact that he has a beard, should be torn up and ignored. The last senior politician to loathe beards and to attach importance to their presence or absence was Margaret Thatcher:

-and look what happened to her.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy

I was in court yesterday, and rued the ending of the school holidays, as my journey to court took half an hour longer than it did last month.

Our courtroom was very busy, and our clerk told us that there were already nineteen people in the cells, probably with more to come. Of course most of these people needed to see their solicitor (often the duty one), so it was almost eleven o'clock before we made a start on their cases.. Just to give you an idea of what we had to deal with, I made a note of our list, before the late entries and extras were added:-

Person banned from local transport hub - back again
Male exposing genitals on a crowded train (children present) Goes on to ask woman in next seat if she does head jobs,
Common Assault
Assault PC x 2, racially aggravated S4 Public Order Act, Possession of Class A drug
Breach Restraining Order x 2
Class B possession, obstruct drug search.
Handling stolen goods
Section 18 GBH with Intent x2 (indictable only) (had to watch nasty CCTV of man on floor being kicked on the head)
Conspiracy to do above
Theft of handbag from supermarket trolley (Lots of previous)
Breach of ASBO
Common Assault (Domestic)
Criminal damage to gaming machine (FOBT)
Breach of ASBO
Theft from shop
Breach ASBO
TWOC and breach of bail
£200 fraud on hotel - no means to pay, and he knew it.
Assault PC x 2
Shop theft
Breach of ASBO
Drive drunk, no licence, no insurance, use foglamp in daylight
Fail to Surrender to Bail
Domestic Common Assault x 2

Finished just before 6 p.m. Roads terrible. Went to pub.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Reality Dawns

Sorry that I have been a bit quiet lately, but for the last few weeks I have been preoccupied with a family wedding.

My daughter, a solicitor,  was married some years ago (to another solicitor), and last Saturday my son, a journalist, married his lovely Tata  (a TV presenter) in Colombia.  Few things in life can be more moving than to see one of your children married, so I hope that I might be excused a little elation at this time.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Er - Yippee - or is it?

I have just received an email from the Labour Party, inviting me to vote in the leadership election. I paid my £3, so here I am.

I have nothing to say about the election or the candidates (albeit I do have opinions) but who the hell dreamed up such a stupid system that sells the right to vote at three quid a go?

The rest is between me and my conscience, (such of it as remains).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It Gets Worse

Look, I know I have had  a lot to say about the Criminal Courts Charge, so I shan't repeat it, but today we saw a glaring example of its day to day effect. A scruffy man was arrested for begging at a Tube station. The facts related by the prosecutor made it quite clear that there was no aggression, such as walking up to people, but rather a request for 'any change' from a seated position.

He pleaded guilty, so he ended up with a fine of £50 (after discount for plea) £85 costs, £20 'victim'surcharge and a Courts Charge of £150, a total of £305 to pay from a man on the minimum level of workless benefit.

It will never be collected in the forseeable future, so what the hell is the point?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Call Me Mr. Difficult

I popped into the pub this lunchtime, as one does, and the conversation soon took its Dailymail-esque course into the migrant-refugee business. One of my well-heeled Thames Valley pals, his 4  x 4 comfortably nestled ino the car park, voiced his unease at the would-be migrant hordes in Calais, as people do. He had earlier dropped in the fact that he had attended church at 8.30 this morning, so I just couldn't ignore the open goal before me.

"You are right. Jesus was particularly strong on refugees and migrants. If he was here today, he wouldn't bother with money changers and temples, but would get on with sorting out these bloody asylum seekers"

Sadly, my words fell on stony ground.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Er - Could We Have Another Look at That?

With its customary sloppiness in matters legal the Daily Mail website, reporting on the Lord Janner case, has promoted the Deputy Chief Magistrate to Mrs. Justice Arbuthnot, a good few steps up the judicial ladder from a DJ(MC).

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Apathy Reigns

The Magistrates' Association has never had much influence on my bench, due in part at least to the geographical layout of the MA' s archaic structure. I live in Buckinghamshire, to the west of my court's area, and MA branch meetings are held in Bloomsbury; an 80-mile round trip (for which mileage cannot be claimed).

Having been a Bench Chairman I came to know quite a few MA people, including the outgoing Chairman Richard Monkhouse, who was a member of the National bench chairmen's forum at the same time as me.

The saddest thing to have come out of recent MA elections is the voting figures:- the turnout from an electorate of almost 18,500 was a puny 3.100, or 16.8%.

This is a shame, because the increasingly authoritarian MoJ needs to be balanced by a robust body representing JPs as well as the various professional court users.