Saturday, February 25, 2006

Retiring-Room Gossip

And it is written that where two or more magistrates are gathered together......they will drink coffee and grumble.

The top grumbles at the moment where I sit (the list will differ across the country but the underlying principles are the same) are:

1) The amount of time that JPs have to spend sitting out the back drinking coffee and grumbling because something has gone wrong in the courtroom.
2) The CPS. Need I say more? We are continually being told that they will get better, and they don't. Anger has given way to resignation.
3) The ever-changing legal landscape that will require many more hours of training later this year.
4) The fact that in a neighbouring court magistrates get free biscuits and we don't.
5) The dead hand of Civil Service bureaucracy since we bacame part of Her Majesty's Courts' Service. Minor repairs to the building that a man with a Black and Decker and a screwdriver could do in 15 minutes are stuck in the pipeline for months waiting for approval from anonymous pen-pushers. When we ran ourselves, the local management could arrange for things to be done quickly and cheaply. Now they hardly dare buy a paperclip.
6) The number of glossy publications that lie unread in the retiring room, sent to us by any one of a dozen public authorities. A casual glance reveals them to be full of turgid self-congratulatory and patronising propaganda.
7) The traffic on the way to court.
8) The number of well-paid public officials who come to the court and get in our way for a day or so, then disappear for ever. What are they for? Who is paying them? Why?

Having said this, the camaraderie among magistrates and their legal advisers is superb. It's just that sitting cooling your heels gives you too much grumbling time.

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