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, January 18, 2011

A Milestone Passed

I have done it at last, on a day when I neither planned nor expected to do it.

I have used the word 'unconscionable' in open court - that is a word that I have never, to the best of my knowledge, spoken aloud in my life, in court or elsewhere. It's the sort of word that you might just write down once in a blue moon, but one that remains absent from everyday speech.

Unless, that is. Unless you are an MP or a lawyer, or a member of the judiciary.

I told a colleague in the retiring room that I had done it (to be honest I had rather surprised myself) and he said "I bet the next word was 'delay'"

He was right of course. We had just refused to vacate a trial because the CPS had let a month pass before notifying a key witness of the trial date, and during that month the witness had committed herself to go abroad; something for which she cannot be criticised. I announced our decision and the prosecutor caught me on the hop just as I was looking down my list for the next case by looking up and saying "May I have your reasons. sir?". So I did it on the fly, and out came 'unconscionable'.

I don't suppose I'll ever use it again, or perhaps I might just do so next time the scoundrel of a landlord at my local puts up the price of beer.