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Police: 18 IS TOO YOUNG TO BE A MAGISTRATE

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Amongst many unexpected effects of the Convid 19 crisis the composition of juries in the crown court has come under scrutiny owing to the enormous backlog in trials which some experts are predicting could take four years or more to clear. This has caused some angst at the Ministry of Justice which has been suffering more than many other government departments from the austerity imposed from 2011 resulting in the closure of half the nation`s courts. 

The  jury system in England can be traced back to Henry II in the 12th Century becoming formalised under Magna Carta a century later when it can be said that the magistracy also came into being.  It wasn`t until 1919/1920 in the aftermath to the Great War that women became eligible both for the magistracy and for juries. From 1825 to 1962 a juror was required to own property.  In 1972 the age requirement for jury service was lowered from 21 to 18.   In 1988 the maximum age of jurors was raised from 65 to 70 and in 2016 to 75. In 1995/96 an inquiry undertaken by the Home Affairs...

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Police: JUDGE ONLY TRIALS??

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Historians or perhaps pedants will wax loudly that the history of trial by jury in England goes back to Magna Carta in 1215 which I suppose has some basis in fact if one is referring to the trial of lords and nobles of the realm. So: a very brief history....... For the common man or woman no such justice was available; a bench of magistrates consisting mainly of local landowners and/or power brokers was the seat of justice with considerable sentencing options; although the most serious offences of the day were sent to Assize Courts. Up to the middle of the 19th century JPs could sentence offenders to hanging. They could also sentence to transportation to North America and the Caribbean, to whipping and the stocks and to fines. Needless to say these benches consisted  of men only. It was in 1920 in the aftermath to the Great War that women became eligible for juries. The acts of 1825 laid down the following qualifications for jury service. In England and Wales they were  that a juror should possess an income of £10 a year from real estate...

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Police: MAGISTRATES` ETHNICITY

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


This is a very short FYI  latest statistics table on the gender and ethnicity composition of the magistracy.


Police: EXCEPTIONAL HARDSHIP AND APPROPRIATE RESULT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
I`ve reported here on many occasions on the excuse often put forward by those disqualified from driving as totters; an accumulation of 12 points on their driving license; namely "exceptional hardship".  Putting these words into the search box will open many of these past posts for those with time and interest. All too often both before and since my retirement I have been astonished at benches` decisions favouring the offender on many occasions.  However today there is a report in the Gazette and Herald of an appeal in the crown court by an offender whose plea of exceptional hardship was rejected by magistrates at his original hearing a few months ago. The words of the presiding judge flanked by two magistrates are as clear and damning as any similar I have ever read.  His reasoning and those remarks should be essential learning material  for all magistrates.


Police: BACK TO THE FUTURE

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

The government doesn`t jail people; courts jail people.  Such a simple statement of truth but one which Tory governments seem to consider unimportant and there to be defied.  Today`s headline in TheTimes is so revealing.  



It was only yesterday in a written answer the Lord Chancellor wrote:-

Robert Buckland: ...network for released prisoners or people on community orders. My ambition is to ensure that community sentences are so robust and effective that, when it comes to decision making by judges and *magistrates*, they will be the default choice as opposed to very short sentences that can frankly do more harm than good.

To quote the song, "what a difference a day makes". Just as in 2011 during and after the riots which enveloped many cities the then Tory dominated government issued "orders" to magistrates courts that defendants facing either way charges should be sent to the crown court. Regular readers here might be aware that last Tuesday June 9th I wrote of my own experiences at that time when my two colleagues and I defied such an...

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Police: JUDICIAL DINOSAURS WILL SOON BE EXTINCT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
I will be unsurprised if within the next few months we will see more than the expected appeals against guilty outcomes in both magistrates and crown courts based upon a perception of racial discrimination.  No doubt police will face a rising number of such accusations. There are some highly motivated individuals at all levels of society who will use the current unrest to further their political cause. There will be a few honourable people involved but it is unlikely that ultra left wing organisations and their members who flourished under the leadership officially and unofficially of Jeremy Corbyn and his Marxist cohort will allow this opportunity to pass as a pathway to their target of discrediting everything a freely elected although incompetent government has to offer to our democracy.  There is no doubt that there has been and still is a minority of police officers at all levels of seniority who are racist.  The scandals of American policing whilst not being the norm in this country have a similarity insofar as the...

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Police: A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME; NAMELY 12 MONTHS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Yesterday there was a House of Commons debate during which there was the question noted below on magistrates` sentencing powers:-


This perennial answer to a perennial question prompted me to relook at some of my previous comments on this subject about which I have consistently opined that the Magistrates Association and a few others might cry to the moon for increased sentencing options; namely to 12 months custody, but that cry will be as flotsam on the waves of a balmy ocean. For those interested in this  brief history of time; namely that 12 months, just type "magistrates sentencing powers" in the search box.

Up to the middle of the century JPs could sentence offenders to hanging. They could also sentence to transportation to North America and the Caribbean; to whipping and the stocks and to fines. Imprisonment was used mainly for debtors.  So for some "hangers and floggers" the good old days are far behind but for the most part I believe that a majority of my former colleagues is satisfied with the powers they currently possess.  



Police: CPS FAILINGS "OFFICIAL" READ ALL ABOUT IT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Just a snippet today on a matter that was becoming evident some years ago and therefore within my personal knowledge....just. The sacking......oops......redeployment of CPS prosecutors began a decade ago. It was apparent from then onwards that some of those freelancing prosecutors appearing before us were ill equipped for the job either through personal incompetence or from being poorly briefed insofar as they lacked some or all of the details of the cases allocated to them. In its latest report published this week HM Crown Prosecution Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has made these failings official. Read the report here


Police: DRIVING A COACH AND HORSES THROUGH LOCKDOWN LEGISLATION AND THE INCOMPETENCE OF POLICE, CPS AND COURTS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

On 6th April I posted "COVID-19 PROSECUTION// THE FINAL CHAPTER".  The case was widely reported.  Provisional data released two weeks ago shows that under lockdown legislation 13,445 FPNs have been recorded by forces in England between March 27 and May 11 while 799 were issued in Wales in the same period – a total of 14,244. National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chairman Martin Hewitt is now being urged to launch a review of all fixed penalty notices (FPNs) handed out in England and Wales using the regulations. Of the 43 regional police forces in England and Wales, the Metropolitan Police has recorded the highest number of fines with 906, followed by Thames Valley Police with 866, and North Yorkshire with 843. Warwickshire issued the fewest with just 31. How many of these fixed penalty notices have been paid is unknown but it is likely that the 50% reduction for prompt payment will have persuaded a large number to have been settled.  And now the...

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Police: JUDICIAL CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS OFFICE MUST BE REFORMED

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

A decade or so ago a regular annual check on the judiciary regulatory body website now the Judicial Conduct  Investigations Office would have revealed decisions for about two dozen magistrates whose actions, speech and/or behaviour had fallen foul of the content of one or more of the 20 pages comprising The Judicial Conduct (Magistrates) Rules [available on line as a pdf file].  This year to date nine such JPs have had the ignominy of their case details published on line albeit in a highly abbreviated form. All such cases at the JCIO have the minimum of details published.  Indeed the whole process from initial inquiries to final decision is about as straightforward as the maze at Hampton Court. It is shrouded in secrecy behind the apparent clarity of the 20 pages of directions and procedures to be followed. Of the aforementioned nine, three magistrates were sacked owing to their failure to sit the minimum number of times required; viz. 13 half days annually.  I have always felt little sympathy for such...

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Latest The Justice Of The Peace Stories

18 IS TOO YOUNG TO BE A MAGISTRATE
JUDGE ONLY TRIALS??
MAGISTRATES` ETHNICITY
EXCEPTIONAL HARDSHIP AND APPROPRIATE RESULT
BACK TO THE FUTURE

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