Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Next Generation

I sat with one of my youngest colleages today - due to someone going sick we had to sit as a bench of two in a court that was handling rather humdrum business.
We both learned something.
My colleague found, in the vagaries of the list, some important decision-making that required a return to first principles, in the absence of a settled guideline.
I was reminded, not for the first time, that routine downscale cases can really test a bench and force it to confront some irreconcilable difficulties that must, all the same, be reconciled.
Over the lunch break we chatted about his experience of his first year on the bench, and I was chastened to realise that on the day of my first sitting he was in nappies, aged one year. The good news was his thirst for knowledge and experience, and his eagerness to learn the many technical aspects of the job. Best of all was his telling me that on joining as the new kid, decades younger than some of us, he had been deeply impressed by the way in which magistrates can spend time 'out the back' in good natured banter, but focus in a totally professional way on the job in hand once the court resumes sitting; and also by he way in which people from totally different backgrounds can work together as a team, focused simply on justice.
Once we old sweats have moved on to the great appeal court in the sky, I think that we shall leave the court in good hands.

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