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.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Sad, the Mad, and Occasionally the Bad (part 2)

Today was another bits-and pieces day, as I was in to cover for an absent colleague and therefore got the odds-and-sods court. The day got off to a bad start because the van that brings the prosecution files to court had a problem, so we feared an hour or more of hanging about. The van turned up in the nick of time, so we got going just a little after our 10 a.m. start time, but we were mentally prepared for the prosecutors to be struggling with their files.

As so often happens when you are resigned to tedium the morning list was unexpectedly interesting. Unfortunately if I were to blog the interesting cases I could be outed in a jiffy, so you will have to wait for a few months until I can drag them from the depths and disguise them.

There is one that I can relate, and it cheered me up no end. A chap was given a police fixed penalty for parking in a place that has, for security reasons, a more or less zero-tolerance policy. Instead of paying the fixed penalty our man wrote a long letter to the court explaining how he had been trying to drop off his elderly mother but had trouble getting hold of a wheelchair for her. We believed him, and it took us no time to decide on an Absolute Discharge and no costs. The very next case offered a not-dissimilar excuse that was so full of holes as to be not just incredible but an insult to our intelligence. Fine £100, costs £35.

Most parking is now decriminalised and administered by Council staff. That's quick and cheap, but if you truly have a story to tell, you won't do better than to go in front of a bench of magistrates.

In the afternoon I got my wish of a nice little trial, where the issues were simple, and the witnesses made our minds up for us. They revealed all of the undercurrents of human frailty that had led to a maelstrom of bad feeling among their very extended family, and then contradicted each other so badly that we acquitted the defendant in five minutes' discussion. Finished at 4.35 p.m. Not too bad.