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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Like Old Times

In the remand court, that handles the early stages of cases and proceeds to sentence guilty pleas we usually have an Associate Prosecutor, who lacks the discretion that is granted to a full-blown Crown Prosecutor. The other day, because an AP was indisposed, we had an experienced CP step into the breach. It was a refreshing change, because he was able to review cases and make decisions on the hoof, just like the old days, unencumbered by box-ticking and targets. We often see multiple charges where one or two have been tossed in as makeweights, and will add nothing to the overall sentence. A sensible prosecutor will weed these out as a waste of everyone's time, but the juniors are stuck with them, because a dropped charge will mess up the essential statistics. If a defendant digs in his heels on a minor charge while pleading guilty to the serious stuff, a lot of court time and money is going to be wasted.
A classic example would be, say, a drive disqualified, with a no insurance and a no MoT. The disqual. matter is going to be up in the community/custody level, so the MoT charge is a waste of paper as we are likely to impose no separate penalty anyway - and it isn't even endorsable.

There was a sad old drunk sleeping it off on a bench just outside the railway station; the bench was on railway property so a couple of BTP officers nicked him for something or other. It was apparent to all of us that his twelve hours' incarceration was more than enough to cover the low-level offence, so the CP quietly dropped it, saving everyone a lot of bother.

We saw a couple of attitudinally-challenged 18 year-old female shoplifters who clearly found the whole proceedings rather beneath them. In an odd twist of fate, the store detective was attacked by the pair when he tried to apprehend them, but an off-duty police officer and an off-duty legal adviser from my court stepped in to help. Small world.