Thursday, March 10, 2005

Not According To Plan

I was due to hear an all-day trial today. Half a dozen police witnesses were out in the lobby , it was all systems go for a trial. The defendant spoiled the party by pleading guilty at ten past ten.

While we had coffee the court staff reorganised things and we dealt with a number of sentences and issued a few warrants. We then sentenced our hero from the abortive all-day trial. That took us to lunchtime.

After lunch, things looked up. Quite by chance we had a list of good old-fashioned summary offences, mostly overnight in custody. Drunk and Disorderly (37 previous convictions). Refusing to leave licensed premises. Assault police officers. Disorder at a family party, most of whose guests are well known to our court already. Mitigation on this one was 'that's what parties are like in our family'. Criminal damage to a police cell, involving the smearing of certain faecal substances on to the walls (at this point our probation officer left the room clutching her hanky).

The book is no help. Guidelines are irrelevant to these offences so we are thrown back on to Mark One common sense. So we gave out a fine here, 28 days inside there, a compensation order when appropriate.

It is such a nice change to be back down among everyday petty crime.

To me, it's the best part of being a magistrate.

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