The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Apocrypha 15

It is a human characteristic going back to our simian relatives that a common reaction to fear or surprise is an uncontrollably silly grin. For that reason those involved in training new JPs caution against misinterpreting a smirk as some kind of disrespect, rather than of nervousness in the intimidating setting of a courtroom. "What are you grinning at? Do you find this funny?" is now a complete no-no, although when I first joined the bench there were a couple of nearly-retired magistrates who might just have gone in that direction.

Every now and again a friend or family member might come to court in anticipation of my buying them lunch, and when I catch their eye a grin is inevitable. Best of all is when a police officer whom I might have met in a different context comes into the courtroom and looks up to see me. What he is thinking is "Oh Bugger". What I get is a daft grin.

Of course I maintain the dignity of the bench, and the officer will go on to do his business. But he knows the score, and so do I.