Friday, April 26, 2013

Picking Up

After a quietish couple of months my rota has started to fill up. We are four-sixths into the rota period, so a lot of vacancies are cropping up, and the rota team can be excused for turning to a retired old gent such as yours truly. I only choose to do adult court work, but I can be flexible, and I can sit in any of the three seats on the bench. Last week I was called at twenty past nine to chair a court; fortunately I was up and dressed, so I just put on a jacket and tie, and was walking into court at ten past ten.

I have agreed to take on a couple of two-day cases, but I shan't get too excited about that until we see how they turn out. When a not guilty plea is entered the court must actively manage the case before setting a trial date. Totting up witnesses, then factoring in such time-hungry features as one or more interpreters, a vulnerable witness who needs screens or a videolink, we reach a time estimate that all too often proves to be unnecessarily long. Then there is the reluctant witness that is such a common feature of domestic violence cases, or the defendant who has chosen not to avail himself of the one-third discount for an early guilty plea, but changes his mind at five past ten on the day of trial.

Court staff will then scurry about rearranging work between the courtrooms. If all goes well we may still get a day's work to do (thanks to the practice of over-listing) but if not it's off home. perhaps via the pub where they are not used to seeing me in a suit.


  1. Swapping work between courts to enable a trial court with change of plea to take work from other courts is getting rarer as CPS use tablets and the prosecutor in one court does not have the files relating to the work listed in another court. If the court house does not have wifi, the trial bench goes home, and the other court stays as long as it takes.Welcome to the practicalities of false economies in 21st century.

  2. "and the prosecutor in one court does not have the files relating to the work listed in another court". If only the prosecutor actually had the files for their own work!

  3. Apparently the idea was that all prosecutors would have all the files on their tablet so there would be no need for movement of files between tablets.

  4. Transferring manual files is no problem;the problem arises with agent prosecutors (yes, they are still used in trial courts)who obviously have no access to CPS tablets

  5. Or the authority to take a decision without having to ask a senior prosecutor (who of course cannot be spoken as s/he is currently addressing another court.


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