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.

Friday, February 19, 2010


We were part way through a trial on it-doesn't-matter-what and the Crown closed its case by asking us to read the Record of Taped Interview (ROTI). Since this ran to a couple of dozen pages and we quite fancied a cup of tea and a biscuit (if the others had left us any - hanging is too good for the man or woman who raids the second layer before the first is gone, but I digress) we retired for the aforementioned purposes. As is usual the ROTI had been, in the currently voguish word, 'redacted' with prejudicial or inadmissible bits blotted out with a thick marker pen. Tea was fetched, the few sad leftover biscuits were put before us, and we settled down to read the ROTI.
We read in silence, until I, a fairly quick reader, did a double take and said "problem, chaps". On the page I was reading the interviewing officer put all of our man's 37 previous convictions to him, and made the point that one of the things he claimed to have done would have been impossible as he was in the Scrubs at the time.
There was no point in carrying on, so I called out the clerk, and said that the trial was now abortive. On going back in to announce this I expressed some firm views about the dreadful and unacceptable carelessness that had been exhibited by CPS and defence alike. The trial had been live since late last year but of course much preparation was left until the last minute, and that was the root of the problem - hurried work is bound to result in mistakes. So three JPs, three lawyers, one usher, sundry witnesses and one defendant all wasted their time and your money.
And this is the same CPS that plans to fanny about with 'Community Prosecutors'. Forget it, Mr. DPP; just make your people get the basics right.