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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Can Dream, Can't I?

I had a call from the admin this morning to ask if I could chair a court tomorrow. I agreed, having nothing much planned, so tomorrow the scruffy clothes and the trainers will be left in the cupboard while I take out my (getting rather tired) second-best court suit.
I have no idea what I shall be given to do. I can be pretty sure that it won't be traffic, since nearly all of that stuff has been hived off to a 'gateway' court some miles round the North Circular. If it's a trial it is likely to be domestic violence, but it might be non-CPS stuff from the council, or the environment people or even (heaven forfend) the bus operators or the TV Licence bods. But you never know - a Proceeds of Crime Act forfeiture can be interesting as can any of the thousands of possible offences we have to deal with.
Some of my colleagues get a bit snotty about District Judges (we have one allocated DJ who is often away on things like prison adjudications, training, or, as this week, a short-notice holiday). There is a suspicion on the lay bench that DJs cherry-pick cases leaving the serfs to deal with the dross. I don't think that's quite fair, because a (say) four-day case is much simpler to manage in front of a DJ, obviating the problems of getting three justices together when they all have lives and families to concern them away from court.
In any event, it isn't just the high-profile cases that are interesting. Sure, a delicate point of law can enthral those of us who are interested, but the really dramatic riveting interplay of raw human emotion is just as likely to be seen in a something-and-nothing neighbour dispute or a low-level assault as it is in a newsworthy case that is on its way to the Old Bailey.
I shall know my fate by 9.40 tomorrow morning. Ideally, I would like a nice little trial that is ready to go at 10, has a juicy 'no case to answer' submission at about 12, with a bit of law tossed in (ideally by a blonde lady barrister of about 30-something - think Patricia Hodge in Rumpole) a verdict at 3.45, and if we convict, a nice neat little sentence without reports (more from Ms. Hodge) then a debrief and in the car by 4.30. In the pub by 5, home for dinner about 6.30.

Well, I can dream, can't I?