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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Brief Encounters

Lennie Briscoe asks in a comment about the recently published book by a young solicitor in which the author reveals all kinds of shenanigans in a large law firm. Inevitably they include predatory sexual approaches by randy senior lawyers towards their nubile trainees, with promotion being more readily available to the comely and the compliant. The author of the novel has been outed in the Press, and I imagine that he has already had the no-coffee interview with the Senior Partner. Of course, putting hundreds of highly intelligent people together under one roof and subjecting them to intense pressure of work will inevitably cause bonding to occur.

Sex is never too far from the courts either. Many men (Me, Officer?) find the combination of black court robes, a slightly absurd wig, and a pretty face very attractive and I have often seen female Counsel using their charm to try to get what they want out of the judge. It is riskier with a jury though, because it is no good winning over the 35 year old man in the front row if at the same time you are upsetting the 65 year old lady at the back. You see it in magistrates' courts sometimes - it is not unknown for the Bench to be greeted with a dazzling smile from the defence barrister as they file in.

On one occasion we had before us a very attractive lady defendant who had triggered one camera too many and faced a six month ban. She appeared free of makeup or jewellery, her hair simply tied back, and wearing a plain dress. She looked the picture of contrition as she stood with her eyes downcast. Her lawyer told us of the hardship that she would suffer by being unable to drive her children to their private school if she were banned from using her Volvo estate. When we retired one colleague made sympathetic noises, but the other quite properly asked us what we would do if we were dealing with an unprepossessing young man in jeans and T-shirt rather than this fragrant lady. We hardened our hearts and disqualified her for six months.

She appealed to the Crown Court a month later, and they fell for it, of course.

There is great camaraderie on the bench, but I have never personally seen any relationship that started to look a bit too close for comfort. A colleague from another court did tell me of a married lady newly appointed to the Bench who was assigned a male mentor to whom she became very attached indeed. Unfortunately, following a Bench meeting, they were caught in flagrante on the CCTV in the car park as they entwined in his car. The Clerk to the Justices told the Bench Chairman what had happened, and said: "It's all yours, Sir, a pastoral issue if ever I saw one".

The lady was assigned a new mentor, and the matter was left there.