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...
Ex magistrate Richard Page is continuing his protest at being sacked from office by suing the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice. This is a very interesting and important case because the outcome will be significant to all who hold what some would describe as intolerant religious beliefs. It is not unlikely that the many Muslim magistrates who statistically would hold similar beliefs are watching closely. A brief perusal of a much more detailed post of 18th March 2016 predicting such a development might assist some in understanding the origin of this situation.
Being free to offend is a fundamental right for a democratic society in order for that society to continue being democratic. Until recently the law in this country was the antithesis to that concept. 1st February 2014 saw the end to s.5 (1) Public Order Act thus decriminalising insulting words or behaviour in the hearing or sight of someone likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. For "distress" read offend and many who would stifle debate have emerged as latter day Mary Whitehouses seeking to show that current fears of internet trolls are a direct result of such freedom. There is a coherent argument that the enormous increase in anti semitism disguised as anti Zionism can be attributed to that change in the law. Nevertheless we are all better off by facing down such arguments than prosecuting them. I am a collector of political cartoons and for me an interesting example on this subject occurred recently in New Zealand. The original source document should be compulsory reading for all who have an opinion one way or another on whether there should be prohibition of what some would describe as offensive material and the right to publish such.
Freemen of England: regular practitioners in the magistrates` courts will have enjoyed the appearance and ravings of those who have refused to recognise the court`s authority citing that they were members of a group as per the title at the beginning of this post. I dealt with a few in my time. I particularly recollect a male about 50 years old who was dressed as if about to appear in a pantomime as Toad of Toad Hall. After being sent to the cells for an hour for contempt his manner on his re-appearance in the dock was just a little subdued and his bravado gave way to humble acceptance of his fate. Suffolk magistrates appear to have been a little less robust than I when dealing with a defendant who challenged the prosecution to trial by combat. So much for CJSSS. Perhaps I have harped on rather a lot about the advantage of bringing back the workhouse updated for today`s offenders. Yet every day in every court there is a poor misbegotten soul who demonstrates that the court process is for him/her a complete waste of time and money. Here`s today`s example from the court in Durham.
Even those who had no knowledge or interest in the Parole Board a month ago will surely have learnt something new to their advantage. Another veil on the face of the justice system has been allowed to drop revealing that since its inception this body of the "great and the good" has been more secretive than the Masons when it comes to public scrutiny although I was pleased to note yesterday that the latter is baring its chest to allow public view of its innards. The courts too are on the same ladder to allow public scrutiny to some limited extent. Scotland has allowed cameras in court although not "live" as in America. The Supreme Court has gone further with its proceedings indeed "live". The internal workings of a jury are still sacrosanct although IMHO it is long overdue that all aspects of that system from eligibility (jurors currently do not need to be British citizens or be examined in their comprehension of English language) to composition; it is nonsense that a jury comprises an even and not an odd number of...
Police misconduct is rarely out of the news these days. Whether that`s because of more reports being available to the public or more actual misconduct is difficult to tell. One thing is for sure and that is the enormous increase in the numbers of senior officers involved. Two years ago I commented at length on the situation. We now know the scandal of the lies and cover up by those at the top of South Yorkshire Police at and following the Hillborough tragedy. Only today it has been reported that the senior detective who conducted interviews with "Nick" the informer in the Edward Heath paedophile case, Diane Tudway has been promoted to superintendent whilst she is under investigation for allegedly misleading a judge into granting search warrants to raid suspects` homes. She is of course currently not guilty of the charge but it is disgraceful that with such a matter unconcluded she is given a promotion to such a senior rank. Yesterday Police Scotland`s Chief Constable resigned under a cloud. A couple of weeks ago the...
Jails are at bursting point, probation service is overwhelmed and undermanned, police are turning blind eyes to "minor" criminality, CPS is failing in its prime duties, Justice Secretaries are playing musical chairs and the Parole Board must ask serial rapist if he consents to wearing an electronic tab were he to be released on license. I rest my case.
Two weeks ago I posted on the news that the Crown Prosecution Service was publishing its own court reports. It seems that this is merely the beginning of a campaign by said organisation to control the news. The finding of gross failures in its procedures that have caused outrage in legal circles notwithstanding the personal traumas inflicted on innocent parties must have inspired its discredited DPP to accelerate the program. With the decline in local court reporting by local media it is not unlikely that a case spun by the weasels of the CPS press office will be at best a PR moment or at worst a sign of government managed news eclipsing other sources. Where has been the comment of libertarians and those who value a truly free press? Justice is being assailed from many quarters. The new CPS beta version website might not be PRAVDA but it is an unwelcome sign of things to come.