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.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

We Don't Always Get it Right (No. 1 in a series)

Crap happens.

A motorist was charged with being Drunk in Charge of a Motor Vehicle. He pleaded Guilty and engaged the services of a pretty young barrister to mitigate for him.

She addressed us at some length saying that she and the client were aware that he had to lose his licence, but would we please keep the ban as short as possible. She laid it on thick, stressing that of course we had no discretion, but consider her client's good character, etc. etc.

The magistrates became restless, whispering among themselves, and the Chairman stopped the barrister in full flow while he had a muttered consultation with the clerk. The Bench withdrew whereupon the Clerk explained to the mortified young lawyer that there was discretion as to whether to disqualify for this offence, and that having no intention to drive could even be a defence to the charge.

We trooped back in, while the scarlet-faced barrister did her best to backtrack on what she had told us five minutes earlier. What the bemused defendant, who was probably paying hundreds of pounds for professional representation thought about it, we have no way of knowing.