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 04, 2011

Not As Expected

Today was my first sitting of the New Year. I was in the remand court, and as it was the first day after a long holiday we were expecting the usual crammed list, with a finish well into the late afternoon. Instead, we had a light list, plus numbers of extras that trickled in over the morning, leading to an early-afternoon finish with a last-minute Mental Health warrant to pick up a patient who was causing worries by not taking his medication as he should and refusing to answer the door to health workers. The police declined to attend without a court order, so that is what we were asked for.
We were constantly surprised. A man charged with drunken misbehaviour in the bus station who went on to abuse police officers until he was finally arrested looked pretty unhappy.His body language suggested that he found the whole court process beneath him, and we kept a careful eye on his behaviour. When it came to entering his plea he was polite and compliant, pleaded guilty and said sorry. Then we saw a multi-handed street robbery case combined with Section 18 GBH, ABH and a bit of drug possession. This was all well above our pay grade, and had to be sent to the Crown Court, a so-called Section 51. We sat back to await a string of bail applications, and were surprised to find that they were all on unconditional police bail and the CPS were happy to leave it that way. An alleged Fail To Provide slipped down-tariff when the CPS accepted that the woman in the dock was in charge rather than driving. That made disqualification discretionary rather than mandatory. Not for the first time we saw the legal aftermath of a Christmas office party grope that went wrong. It didn't happen today, but sometimes a drunken fumble lands the groper on the Sex Offenders' Register, and that's not a very good addition to your CV.