Sunday, September 09, 2012

MA Update

For those of you anxious to take up the Magistrates' Association's offer of a rose or roses for your garden, here are some more details from the website:-

The Justice of the Peace rose was launched at the Chelsea Flower Show last year and has proved to be very popular. Members bought all the available roses last year but there are more available this year.
The rose is being offered to MA members @ £12 per rose inc VAT and postage. This is for bare root roses which will be delivered in late October this year.
For those of us waiting with bated breath for the MA to lumber into action over the ridiculous attempt to ban blogging by magistrates - not a peep, one month on.

So if it's roses you are after, the MA is for you. If it is support for magistrates, look elsewhere. The rose vendors have more important things on their mind.

25 comments:

  1. Simple Simon from Shrewsbury9 September 2012 09:26

    Well the problem is that nobody has told the MA what their comment should be.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The best rose to come out of the MA in recent years was Rosemary Thompson. Today's generation of 'leaders' would do well to check the archive and see how the job ought to be done.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One suspects that some people in the MA's hierarchy like the chance to hob-nob with some of the senior judges. I won't be holding my breath for any action from the MA to support magistrates who blog.

    I see nothing wrong with RESPONSIBLE blogging. Care is obviously needed - e.g. not to be biased or to show bias - but the SPJ's "guidance" amounted to a clumsy attempt to stop blogging on pain of disciplinary action.

    A similar edict was issued about JPs standing for election as Police and Crime Commissioners but he fell foul here of political influence / clout coupled with the threat of a judicial review. His "guidance" was very quickly revised into something more sensible and appropriate.

    Hopefully, his Lordship will reconsider the blogging guidance but, again, I am not holding my breath.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 1. The PCC guidance was revised largely on the basis of submissions by the MA.
    2. As announced within days of the SPJ's edict being published, the MA has sought input from members and has indicated that the matter has been tabled for review at the next meeting of the MLG at the end of October.
    3. One might also ask Bystander why he didn't react when he received the summary record of the various meetings at which this subject was discussed by his fellow Bench Chairmen on the NBCF (which he has told us he was instrumental in setting up), including the reports of the MLG meetings in question. *That many think the NBCF exists simply to provide HMCTS with a convenient alibi is another matter - but one Bystander seems unwilling to engage in.
    4. One can't help wonder quite how Team Bystander thinks this petty jibe - whilst he has been discussing matters of such world shattering importance as sarnie making in his Grand Fromage post (I admit, when I saw the title, that I thought it was going to be another piece of autobiographical exegesis!) is going to help things forward. At least the MA is going through a democratic process of consultation and consideration before responding. Bystander is not the only magistrate (or not) whose views need to be taken into account.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The MA has not sought my input.

      Delete
    2. It's on the Members' pages of the MA website, and came out only a few days after the news of the SPJ's edict broke and people began to react (including on the MA's own web forum, where it has attracted more contributions and interest than any other subject before). I would urge all members to write in and help shape the organisation's response.

      Delete
    3. But Fassenfelt agreed the guidance on behalf of the MA before asking the members whether we had any views on it. And he admits he did so only because of the controversy that entailed. I don't regard that as proper consultation. And if there is a majority of members that want the edict reversed, what will happen ?

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'd suggest that Magistrates who have not sent their analysis to the MA might do well to keep their own counsel - one way or another. Oh, and the rose is a good 'un.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why? Afraid of "the competing voices of free speech" as Neuberger LJ so pithily put it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why? Afraid of "the competing voices of free speech" as Neuberger LJ so pithily put it?

      Bystander is.

      Delete
  8. This imho sums up the MA. As another blogging JP put it they are "not fit for purpose". They certainly cannot say they speak for all Magistrates. Perhaps the time has come for the press etc when seeking a "spokesperson" to seek out a forthright individual rather than one of the wimps from the MA.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If I wanted a lawyer, I'd go to one, rather than someone who professes an interest in matters legal and lies a little to the west of the law itself. If I wanted a spokesperson for the magistracy, I'd go to the independent organisation that represents the great majority of them (68% of serving JPs are members of the MA - and it makes no pretence to speak on behalf of all magistrates). If I wanted an anonymous and unaccountable individual with a fair few bees in his bonnet, I might ask to speak to a member of Team Bystander, but no responsible journalist would try to claim that such a collective of individuals could - by any stretch of the imagination - be described as a "spokesperson."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "68% of serving JPs are members of the MA" - It used to be much higher.What changed?
      " responsible journalist" - an oxymoron, surely.

      Delete
    2. Well, MoVG, why read this blog if you are not interested in the opinions of the authors ? Just go away.

      Delete
    3. @Anon It is depressing that the same few people seem to turn like a hunting pack on anyone who dares voice even the most minor of 'criticisms' (if indeed "having a bee or two in one's bonnet" can be construed as a criticism). It is one of the reasons why the once-winning formula seems to have become somewhat tarnished of late, and may even explain why a growing number of formerly regular followers of this blog have turned their back on it. If you want the readership to be reduced to a rump of inveterate devotees whose most constructive contribution to the debate around the serious issues around blogging by judicial office holders is summed up by your articulate invitation to "go away", simply allow me to opine that such an approach seems a good way to achieve it. It certainly does little to convince me that such is the way forward, nor is it likely to help convince the SPJ to revise his view - something I have argued strongly in favour of.

      @payasoru You are right that the MA's membership has, like virtually every membership organisation, contracted in recent years, no doubt partly as a result of belt-tightening amongst its potential members. But as regards journalists, wasn't it you who was reminding us of The Times' praise for Bystander and urging anyone who could to contact one of their columnists, and that only a couple of weeks ago? Tarring everybody with the same brush, even in jest, does not help hugely to advance the maintenance of public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. Luckily, I have read enough of your otherwise wise and well-weighted contributions to these comments pages to know that this was not characteristic of you.

      Delete
    4. Ooops. Hoist by my own inconsistency. I apologise. Journalists come in many shapes and forms and that variety should largely be celebrated. Thank you for your forbearance towards a comment that placed wit(?) above veracity.

      Delete
    5. Truly the end times are upon us.

      Delete
  10. Shouldn't it be yellow?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Someone who could be anything or nothing10 September 2012 16:47

    It's probably fair to note that the MA had a "position" on the Police and Crime Commissioners as John Howson, former deputy chairman (until a year or so ago) is standing for the role in the Thames Valley. He remains a "non-sitting" JP whilst campaigning and is currently one of many "vice-presidents" of the Magistrates’ Association. The need for 14 Vice Presidents is no doubt vital to the future of the MA rather simply self-aggrandising for the former luminaries (http://www.magistrates-association.org.uk/vicepresidents.php).

    None of the MA leadership blog or comment (or they simply don’t like criticism) and as such the MA doesn’t need a "position"…

    It might be fitting for the MA to buy one of those (awful) engraved rose bowls, advertised repeatedly in the MAgistrate magazine, should John have to face the difficult decision of whether to resign as a JP or accept a salary of £85k in the near future. Alternatively they could just give it as a consolation prize as it would get rid of the unwanted rose stocks.

    ReplyDelete
  12. MOVG is clearly highly supportive of the MA and that is fine...it is his right. But it is also the right of JPs who feel less than enthusiastic about it as an organisation to also freely express those frustrations. That is what this post aimed to do...and that seems fair to me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Fair comment, SLJP (so far as it goes). What I am hugely supportive of is the notion that magistrates should have an independent voice, not beholden to either Government or even departmental funding, and able to take a view unhampered by extraneous considerations. I was vocal from the outset about the transformation of the JCS (Justices' Clerks' Society) from a self-standing and autonomous body set up to ensure that the quasi-judicial functions of Justices' Clerks, and those of their assistants and deputies be preserved by statute, into an in-house departmentally funded associated body, and argued strongly that it should not allow itself to be sold down the river for a mess of potage. I denounced the craven capitulation of every other so-called representative body when the Crombie compensation scheme was abolished on the eve of the very eventuality it had been designed to protect against (the culling of a whole swathe of loyal staff who had been integrated into the civil service and were being traded off against the very independence from political interference their status was designed to prevent). I had wanted to see justices' clerks and legal advisers recognised as a self-standing corps of state (rather like that of the French 'magistrature', albeit a very different animal), and was greatly disappointed by the lack of understanding on the part of commentators of the profound nature of the change their subjugation to ministerial control implied. But where I really must take issue with the view of SLJP is the insinuation that I have in some way sought to suppress the free expression of the frustrations of those who are less attached to the notion of retaining an independent voice for the magistracy. Nothing I have said or written permits of such an interpretation. Quite the contrary!

    When the creation of the MA was first mooted in the wake of the appointment of the first women JPs, it was based on the conviction that the magistracy could not simply content itself with twisting in the wind of change, but needed to promote and foster the characteristics that had meant that this ancient function had somehow managed to evolve through time by continually seeking to tap into the pulse of the increasingly representative and diverse communities from which it was drawn. We forget too easily that whilst some 70% of our senior judiciary are Oxbridge-educated, the magistracy at large truly is drawn from the communities it serves.

    When Bystander stands up and allows his voice to be counted in the defence of human rights, of this country's treaty obligations and of evidence-based decision making, I want to cheer. When, occasionally, he has (understandably) allowed himself the occasional moment of self-indulgence, I used to delight in seeing Peter Hargreaves gently but firmly chide him and "call him to order". Now that Peter too has left him to his own devices, we are left all too often with a motley crew of trolls and poodles.

    Let me be quite clear. I value and admire Bystander's contribution to the promulgation of greater awareness and understanding of the magistrates' court system. I endorse virtually everything he says about the inherent contradictions and indeed idiocies in the criminal justice system. I love his wry humour and his quirky knack of capturing the gamut of the human experience as seen from the bench. But I reserve the right not to agree with everything he says. If he chooses to delete this comment, fair enough. The magistracy has in the past spoken through drama, literature and indeed often less than flattering caricature. One of its most powerful contemporary expressions is through this blog. Long may it continue - but also acknowledge the occasional dissenting voice...

    ReplyDelete

  14. Mourn ye not for Peter Hargreaves. He carries on blogging and comments here from time to time under a pseudonym that I could not possibly disclose

    ReplyDelete
  15. P.S. Just as I posted my comment, "Pater" was suddenly corrected to "Peter".

    ReplyDelete

Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.