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.

My Photo
Location: Near London, United Kingdom

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Apocrypha (13)

One of the occasional perils of the job is seeing someone you know in the dock. It has happened to me a few times over the years, and depending on the circumstances I have either left the bench or transferred the case to another courtroom. What matters is not whether you might be biased, but whether a casual observer might think that you could be, so safety-first is the usual approach.

A long time ago we had two men in the dock who had been arrested for gross indecency in a public toilet, the pastime known as 'cottaging'. To my horror, I saw that one of them was Peter, the son of a good friend of mine. I was aware of the young man's proclivities, because he made no secret of them and his manner was camp and exhibitionistic, but nevertheless after a quick word to the chairman I was off.

Later we had coffee out the back and the clerk joined us. "Interesting friends you have, sir" he said with a straight face.

As a postscript, I saw Peter holding court in the pub one day, and when he saw me walk in he ostentatiously turned his back on me with a toss of the head. "Suit yourself" thought I, and I put the matter out of my mind. Some months afterwards he came up to me and said "You know what upset me about that, don't you?" "No" I replied.

"Well", he said, "I mean, gross indecency! Of course it was indecent, that's what we went there for. But there was nothing gross about it."