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 team, who may or may not be JPs, but all of whom are interested in the Magistrates' Courts.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

DJ's Handbook

I am grateful to Andrew Keogh for the link to this guide for District Judges who sit in the Magistrates' Courts. Some of the content is specific to the professional judiciary, but for the most part it contains lots of common-sense stuff that is very useful to the rest of us. It is better than a lot of the training material that I have seen over the years. It's a big pdf, but well worth dipping in to.
This passage applies just as much to a court chairman as it does to a DJ:-
Owing to the considerable pressure on a district judge to deal with work expeditiously, there can be a temptation to speak first and think afterwards.
Wherever possible, it is helpful to avoid painting oneself into a corner. Rather than making a dogmatic statement (‘This is the position’), invite assistance from the advocate (‘I would be grateful for your assistance in this matter; it seems to me on fi rst consideration that . . ., but I would welcome your thoughts’). Wherever possible use open questions, i.e. questions that do not suggest any particular answer, rather than making a direct statement, until you are absolutely sure.