Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Upstairs or Downstairs
The forthcoming abolition of committal proceedings reminds me that benches continue to be, in our view, too timid in accepting jurisdiction. Only yesterday we committed a case to the Crown Court that is highly unlikely to attract more than our maximum of six months' imprisonment, and will probably end up as a suspended sentence order. Nevertheless our colleagues had declined jurisdiction. When we sit at the Crown Court on appeals judges often ask why we send up low-level stuff; I don't have the figures to hand but a good proportion of cases sent to Hizonner end up being sentenced well within JPs' powers. We lost an argument last year and declined a case that finished up attracting a six-week sentence. The defendant was released immediately because he had served longer in custody waiting to get to the Crown Court than the eventual sentence. That is unfair as well as costly.