Members of the judiciary including those on the very lowest level i.e. magistrates, face the prospect of a rap across the knuckles or worse if they fall foul of what the superbeaks at the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office deem to be appropriate behaviour. There are few who would not argue that magistrates are far more likely to be contenders for judicial castigation than their senior professional well remunerated colleagues. Indeed a cursory glance at the reasons why three J.P.s this year have been already sanctioned for what some might say are merely minor behavioural infringements adds weight to that impression of unduly robust censure for magistrates. A recent Appeal Court ruling on a Deputy District Judge`s behaviour will almost certainly sustain the belief of the professional judiciary`s near immunity from public sanction except when the matter reaches and is concerned with a wider audience. Spend a few minutes reading the Law Society Gazette report and the accompanying comments and come to your own conclusions on whether or not judicial blinkers are in use depending upon the situation.
Anyone vaguely connected with the justice system is aware of the reduced level of service at all levels as a result of the unadmitted and shameful reduction in financial support for these services. Indeed in 2010 when he was Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke MP, he of the REMAINER till I die persuasion, was proud to announce that he had slashed his budget by over 23% before the then Chancellor had broken the news. Now it`s official and public knowledge that Justice has taken the biggest hit of all government departments since then. What an indictment of Coalition and Tory attitude to this indispensable safeguard for our democracy and system of government. For them it was and is justice down the pan.
I have never previously copied a complete news report of a case preferring readers to access the link if they so wished. However the issue of anti-semitism, the oldest virus, is appearing in much of the media of all kinds to an extent never experienced in my lifetime. It has even infected the upper regions of the Labour Party and publications like the New Statesman. Anti-semitism is unlike most other forms of racism insofar as it has appeared throughout history and in areas where there has been public insecurity and dissatisfaction with the political process. England has had its fair share. In the late 12th century, members of the Jewish community in Lincoln settled in York. However, there was growing hostility towards the Jewish population in England. This was in part due to public disagreements in theology between Jewish scholars and Christian churchmen. In the mid-12th century several vicious stories were spread accusing Jews of murdering Christian children. Such slanders, now known as the ‘Blood Libel’, strengthened...
The arrogance and incompetence of former Lord Chancellor the unlamented Chris Grayling set in motion the destruction of the probation service. Further proof of his and previous incumbents of his post`s mishandling of their duties can be seen from the reducing numbers of breaches of ASBOs and laterally CRASBOs.
With the demise of ASBO and replacement with CRASBO the latest current numbers combined, 6248, compare very poorly with 13,659 ten years ago. This is a direct result of reducing resources and efficiencies of the probation services now carried out mainly by outsourcing companies. The parliamentary answer from which this table has been copied is available here.
Sentencing Guidelines were introduced during my days on the bench. Initially they appeared to codify in relatively simple terms a ladder in which any bench could logically come to a sentence ranging from a fine to custody and repeat the exercise on most occasions irrespective of post code or composition of any bench in England or Wales. My well trained colleagues on my own bench had been following similar procedures for years using straightforward common sense and structured reasoning. The latest offspring of those first Guidelines has recently been published: The Equal Treatment Bench Book, 422 pages of dos and don`ts for the judiciary. How on earth do the civil servants at the MOJ think that those for whom it has been deemed necessary will react to being schooled like primary age children. This is the society we have become. We cannot walk, talk, tweet, write, flirt, discuss, remark or observe without fear of breaching somebody`s psychological, physiological, sociological, anatomical, rational or irrational, real or...
I have observed over the months from skimming court reports that there are lay benches who are all too easily suckered into granting a plea of exceptional hardship to those with ample assets and/or income defended by sparky efficient advocates. It is therefore refreshing to read of a wealthy high earning businessman failing in his efforts to avoid disqualification as a totter. Long might such examples continue: just deserts for the many not the few.
The Ministry of Justice and its offspring Her Majesty`s Court and Tribunal Service are trying to convince legal practitioners, judges, and to a lesser extent magistrates and the public that the way forward in improving justice and courts` efficiency is not to have any courts and to "simplify" the basic concept of justice. O.K..........That might be thought by some to be too Kafkaesque a description but certainly the disposal of hundreds of court buildings, the reduction and near elimination of legal aid in the lower court, the outsourcing of many court related functions, the instigation of single J.P. jurisdiction for so called minor mass offending and perhaps most controversially of all the increasing use of video courts leads some way to a justification for the opinion. When I was active video courts were being used in bail hearings. Apart from prison officials not co-operating in a sensible fashion much of the time the actual operation was simple and certainly not unfair to the person on remand who of course always...
Amongst the qualities required for appointment as a magistrate when I applied was common sense. Those two words were actually written in the application form. That quality is not indicated at all in the current application form or notes which include the following:-
You need to show you’ve got the right personal qualities, for example that you are:
aware of social issues
mature, understand people and have a sense of fairness
reliable and committed to serving the community
You also need to be able to:
understand documents, follow evidence and communicate effectively
think logically, weigh up arguments and reach a fair decision
When I made an official inquiry many years ago as to why this personal quality was omitted I was told that what might be "common" to some people might not be common to others who were immigrants or unfamiliar with the mores of this country and would therefore be at a disadvantage. British citizenship is not a requirement to sit as a J.P.; a rule with which I profoundly disagree. Continues, Read More...
According to the folklore of Hollywood and of Western movies prior to the mid fifties native Americans often described the black hatted white villain as speaking with forked tongue and of course the reference was to snakes. Today we would describe the activity as saying one thing and acting in a totally opposite fashion i.e. being an out and out liar. Now to accuse a Chief Constable who is head of professional standards for the National Police Chiefs Council of terminological inexactitude might perhaps be going a little too far but contrast two statements in the public domain made by this man. On the website of the NPCC amongst other things the above mentioned Chief Constable Martin Jelley wrote in 2016,
"We will not tolerate corrupt officers or staff and it is vital that we respond swiftly and robustly to incidences of sexual misconduct. “After reviews by Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 2012, police chiefs committed to doing more to root out abusers from...