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.

My Photo
Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Get A Move On!

Carlene sits in the armoured-glass dock, next to a Serco officer. Carlene is a dumpy young woman whose lifestyle has taken its toll of her appearance. My list tells me that she is 22, but she looks as is she is getting on for 40. She is charged with a serious offence, so we decide that it is too much for us, and decline jurisdiction, thus sending the case to be dealt with at the Crown Court. It is the usual practice to allow six weeks for preparation of committal papers if the defendant is on bail, and four weeks for custody cases, so I look at the advocates and say "four weeks then?". The CPS Associate Prosecutor ('CPS-Lite') gets to his feet, and tells us that since the case involves forensics papers will take seven weeks to prepare.
The defence lawyer protests that her client has two small children and wants her case dealt with as soon as possible. CPS digs his heels in, and says that the wait for DNA results is six to seven weeks so that is that.
I say that we are not happy with this situation. A DNA test is a relatively quick procedure, and the delay is due to a queue. This defendant is unconvicted and in custody, so we say that we expect the tests to be prioritised.
There is still a good possibility that the CPS will do nothing and simply ask for a further adjournment in four weeks' time. If I were sitting on that day (which I will not be) I would seriously consider discharging the case, telling the CPS to re-charge it once they have got their case together. Leaving a mother to sit unconvicted in prison for administrative convenience is unfair and unacceptable.