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, July 27, 2010

Some Dream That Was!

I turned up at 9.25, and found myself sitting with two experienced and sensible colleagues. The clerk came out (another plus - she's really good) and told us that we had two trials listed, one morning, one afternoon. I didn't like the sound of a three-hour trial listed for 2 p.m. - too many things can go wrong and result in burning the midnight oil or going part-heard. The admin really shouldn't list these things, but it's all done at a remote courthouse these days.
10 a.m. arrived, out came the clerk; Crown not ready to go. Defendant here, defence brief here, CCTV suite set up for vulnerable young witness, but no witnesses (from the same family). Spent 20 minutes drinking coffee while CPS attempted to phone witnesses. We set a deadline to review matters. Five minutes before that, clerk comes out to tell us that the witnesses won't be here, as they have the date wrong and are expecting to come tomorrow. We troop back in. Prosecutor makes wordy request for adjournment, much of it repetitive and some of it teaching granny to suck eggs. I have a good idea of what the 'interests of justice' means, thanks, and I have a working knowledge of the Criminal Procedure Rules. I cut him short, and ask the defence for submissions - of course she opposes the application. As she gets into her stride and starts looking up case law, I stop her too after a whispered question to my colleagues. "We have heard enough, thank you. We refuse to adjourn the case. Enough is enough, it is now six months old." CPS offers no evidence, so I stand the defendant up and tell him that the case is dismissed. Does that mean I haven't got to come back?" he asks. "Yes, that's the end of it. You can go". He mumbles thanks and waves a sort of salute as he leaves.
This case was about a theft of a trinket valued at little more that £20, and had been going on since last winter. We gave it a decent burial.

We then heard that the afternoon case was also a goner, as the victim was away on holiday (booked after he knew the date of the trial, of course). Case dismissed.

We had some more coffee, dealt with a couple of short matters, then issued two warrants; one to search for documents used for fraud, and one Mental Health Act warrant to allow a squad of psychiatric workers accompanied by police to pick up an unstable paranoid schizophrenic and take him to hospital for assessment.
That was it. We juggled a couple of benches about to allow one courtroom to close; I volunteered for an early bath and I was back home by 12.30.

If you can't take a joke, I mused, you shouldn't have joined.