Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
A Chance To Be Heard
The document includes a brief summary of the 'Magistrates' Liaison Group' that was such a surprise to so many of us when we heard of it.
John Fassenfelt uses a rather odd expression:-
I realise that this issue is causing controversy amongst those that understand the concept of taking part in blogging. Over the coming weeks I will be seeking the views of a cross section of members about the guidance and reporting back to all members and also to the Magistrates Liaison Group.
Do not hesitate to let me have your views.
Read literally, John seems to be saying that only those who understand blogging are troubled, so those who do not understand it (which seems to include the authors of the Guidance) see no controversy. So that's all right then.
He goes on to ask MA members to email him at email@example.com
Please do, if you are a member, and put your membership number in the email to prove that you are genuine.
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I am constantly amazed at the poor level of technological understanding that people have. We live in the 21st Century, with computers, iPads, Smart phones and the like.ReplyDelete
Some people seem to think that it is acceptable to let all of this pass them by, just like the ability to read and write in past years.
I'm sure I'm not the first to have been in court and heard about an argument which has spilled over from Facebook. The fact that this is a common form of communication is ignored by some as a "younger generation toy", and "not worthy of understanding".
These Luddites should realise that they are dinosaurs and should like the dinosaurs become extinct.
Oh, while I think of it, I'm sure you're pleased I have refrained from using the word "first" anywhere in the previous comment. :)Delete
Talking of Facebook, I'm deeply concerned over the finding of guilt with respect to Azhar Ahmeds Facebook postingDelete
I think this decision sits incredibly poorly with the setting aside of the Twitter posting concerning blowing up an airport. In addition I am surprised that his posting was regarded as a communication; it was posted on his own status page and does not appear to have been "communicated" to others unless they specifically went and fetched it. In my opinion it would only be a "communication" if he had for example, posted his opinion to a group of soldiers or organisation supporting soldiers. Even if he had done so, I still think that Freedom of Speech is increasingly being fenced in tighter and tighter.
Whatever happened to "I don't agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.". Voltaire would be running from England, not France, nowadays.
Looking at the BBC news page regarding Ashar Ahmed it appears this is another case dealt with in the Magistrates Court by a single person - ie the "Stipe", or as we are now required to call them, District Judge. I do worry that people who elect to have their cases heard by a bench of magistrates find themselves in front of one person. And so often they (DJs) seem to get/take, or are flown in to handle, cases like this.Delete
BS Team - I have done exactly as you have suggested!! I have sent you a copy by email (I hope) for your information!!ReplyDelete
I think he will hear from a very cross section of the membership!ReplyDelete
I, too, have written to the MA and copied you by email.ReplyDelete
Ditto, thank you, bystander, for your response, which is more than I can say for the silence from the MA....Delete
How extraordinary that they should be consulting the membership after taking their decision, not before.ReplyDelete
Extraordinary? I suspect that your tongue may be in your cheek. It seems to be the drill nowadays for there to be proposal; consultation; decision - but not necessarily in that order!Delete
I've also written and sent a copy to BS.
I think this is probably the only time I have been sorry that I am no longer a member of the MA. I left not because I am no longer a magistrate, I am still a magistrate, but because I saw it as years of wasted of money.ReplyDelete
Respond anyway. If the MA wants to represent magistrates, then it had better take account of the views of magistrate non-members.Delete
I wrote as a former member with a view to express. I have been told that it has been passed to the appropriate person, and I may expect a reply, so as phisheep suggests, write anyway.Delete
Lucky you, Payasoru...no one from the MA has deigned to acknowledge my e mail...no change there then!!Delete
In the interests of balance, could you also say what Eric Windsor of the NBCF (who didn't even seem to understand that what he was agreeing to involved blogging; he described it as affecting "media sites") has decided to do - if anything? What measures has the NBCF taken to contact both bench chairmen and their benches, and has the support unit at the MoJ provided any further information?ReplyDelete
More to the point, can anyone explain to me what the NBCF is actually for?Delete
Its primary intention was to drive a wedge between the MA and the then DCA, and to try and strengthen the hand of those bench chairmen who felt that they had insufficient influence and power by virtue of their status. It has backfired spectacularly, and serves as an object lesson in hubris over solidarity. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of all (other than highlighting the naïveté of its founders, who put personal kudos above the interests of their benches, let alone of the magistracy at large) is the way in which it has been used, quite cynically, by every succeeding administration as a patsy for 'consultation' and as a proxy for communication with individual magistrates. That the same impulses still prevail is well demonstrated by the toadying nature of the Forum's "responses" to consultations.Delete
And you say Bystander was "instrumental" in setting this Forum up? Fascinating.Delete
Why should that be so surprising? Even his most ardent and unconditional supporters acknowledge a "moderately anarchical" tendency in him, and he is constitutionally incapable of even-handedness in this respect.Delete
Take the message from John Fassenfelt above as an example. Rather than being a recent initiative, John's invitation actually dates from within a few days of the breaking of the news of the SPJ's edict on the MA forum, and was an immediate reaction to the consternation observed. It was posted on the Members' area of the website for all members to see, but to ensure that it reached as wide a cross section of the membership as possible, it was also included in this month's e-newsletter to all members.
It is at the MA's request that the matter will be reviewed and discussed again at the next meeting of the Magistrates' Liaison Group towards the end of October. I would encourage all members to respond, and will myself be arguing the case for MA support of a policy reversal, subject to certain checks and balances to avoid the damaging excesses that have tarnished the reputation of blogging by judicial office holders in the past.
Just too late for me. This issue was the straw which broke the camel's back. Aware my membership was coming up for renewal I resigned at the end of August. JJ-JPReplyDelete
I'm a bit late to the party, but can I say that I do regard the orders from on high regarding Magistrates blogs as highly oppressive.ReplyDelete
I also wish to say however that the idea of a team editing this blog should be a good one....but....
I notice the last months blogs seem to be like a gentlemans club discussing matters of little consequence compared to the earlier blog postings. Could you members of the "Team" get a little fire back in your bellies and start discussing some issues of real consequence again?
Like lack of transparency in sentencing, which I believe to be intentionally misleading to the public, and dishonest. I had hoped for a change but to no avail apparently.ReplyDelete
Whenever we sentence anyone our first thought is always "How best can we deceive the public this time? Mwah-ha-ha-ha".
(Actually, in fairness, we don't alwaays do the evil laugh).
Please, Noel Coward. I only have so many ribs.Delete
Oh too true!Delete
The task of the right hand of the Monarch is to ensure that no enduring sense of injustice be allowed to disturb the sound of value being added to the Realm.ReplyDelete
If you do not like it, it is open to you move to a Republic, where the mob is more heavily or genuinely consulted about matters of Justice. Philosophy is a French malady. The end result is a more self satisfied class of Magistrate. Smugness is also a French malady.
The Monarch does not care or even encourages, if wise, some anarchy by those of the Magistracy. Magi. Wise persons. Just do not trumpet your acts of mercy and kindness. They will be even more strongly heard in the corridors of power. Power is not yours. It has been granted to you. It becomes you to be humble?
What on earth does the Bishop of Durham have to do with all this?Delete
In any case, in the Republic where I live, though some puisne judges are chosen by the mob, the most of them are selected by His Elective Majesty.