Friday, August 21, 2015

Er - Yippee - or is it?

I have just received an email from the Labour Party, inviting me to vote in the leadership election. I paid my £3, so here I am.

I have nothing to say about the election or the candidates (albeit I do have opinions) but who the hell dreamed up such a stupid system that sells the right to vote at three quid a go?

The rest is between me and my conscience, (such of it as remains).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It Gets Worse

Look, I know I have had  a lot to say about the Criminal Courts Charge, so I shan't repeat it, but today we saw a glaring example of its day to day effect. A scruffy man was arrested for begging at a Tube station. The facts related by the prosecutor made it quite clear that there was no aggression, such as walking up to people, but rather a request for 'any change' from a seated position.

He pleaded guilty, so he ended up with a fine of £50 (after discount for plea) £85 costs, £20 'victim'surcharge and a Courts Charge of £150, a total of £305 to pay from a man on the minimum level of workless benefit.

It will never be collected in the forseeable future, so what the hell is the point?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Call Me Mr. Difficult

I popped into the pub this lunchtime, as one does, and the conversation soon took its Dailymail-esque course into the migrant-refugee business. One of my well-heeled Thames Valley pals, his 4  x 4 comfortably nestled ino the car park, voiced his unease at the would-be migrant hordes in Calais, as people do. He had earlier dropped in the fact that he had attended church at 8.30 this morning, so I just couldn't ignore the open goal before me.

"You are right. Jesus was particularly strong on refugees and migrants. If he was here today, he wouldn't bother with money changers and temples, but would get on with sorting out these bloody asylum seekers"

Sadly, my words fell on stony ground.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Er - Could We Have Another Look at That?

With its customary sloppiness in matters legal the Daily Mail website, reporting on the Lord Janner case, has promoted the Deputy Chief Magistrate to Mrs. Justice Arbuthnot, a good few steps up the judicial ladder from a DJ(MC).

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Apathy Reigns

The Magistrates' Association has never had much influence on my bench, due in part at least to the geographical layout of the MA' s archaic structure. I live in Buckinghamshire, to the west of my court's area, and MA branch meetings are held in Bloomsbury; an 80-mile round trip (for which mileage cannot be claimed).

Having been a Bench Chairman I came to know quite a few MA people, including the outgoing Chairman Richard Monkhouse, who was a member of the National bench chairmen's forum at the same time as me.

The saddest thing to have come out of recent MA elections is the voting figures:- the turnout from an electorate of almost 18,500 was a puny 3.100, or 16.8%.

This is a shame, because the increasingly authoritarian MoJ needs to be balanced by a robust body representing JPs as well as the various professional court users.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Word Is Getting Round

This article  shows that the public are staring to be aware of the injustice of the Courts' charge. The scheme will eventually collapse under the weight of its contradictions, unless Mr. Gove accepts the sensible advice he has been given, and knocks it on the head.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

More On Bloody Gavels

The Law Society Gazette has this piece that clearly disagrees with my objection to sloppy journalism that uses a gavel to illustrate any law-related story. Yes, of course it isn't that important, but it still drives me crackers.

More On The Courts' Charge

This is a view from the Law Society's journal about the unfair and callous Criminal Courts' charge. A number of JPs have resigned from my bench in protest, and I suspect that there are more to come as we gain day to day experience of this Government-imposed injustice.

When I was sworn in all those years ago I promised to do right by all manner of people.

This charge is not right.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

So Long, Farewell,........

The wheels of the MoJ have turned and have ground out a quite predictable result.. The 'consultation' on closing courts (which is MoJ code for announcing what you are going to do anyway) has earmarked one of my local courthouses for closure. The courthouse in question is Feltham, and I can find no rational case to oppose the closure. Feltham is an old court, converted many years ago from a music-hall. The first time that I walked in to the magistrates' entrance I saw a lovely Victorian/Edwardian tiled room that was formerly the box office. My initial reaction was to ask for two stalls seats and a Raspberry Mivvi,
Unfortunately, the rest of the courthouse is entirely unfit for purpose, for reasons that I shall not trouble you with.
The bulk of Feltham's business will probably be shunted off to Hammersmith (a DJ-heavy outfit by the London side of the flyover)

I do not have much longer to serve as a JP, but when I go, I shall not miss shabby but charming old buildings like Feltham Mags.