Wednesday, August 05, 2015

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.


  1. After twenty three years as a JP, I felt I just could not continue to sit there in the Chair presiding over such patent injustice. I was very surprised at the response of the Magistrates Association to such an utterly fundamental change in the criminal justice system. Does the MA not have a line in the sand? Hugely disappointed that the MA did not make a stand on behalf of its members. After all, the oath which we all took includes the words "I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm". How can we do right in the face of such obvious injustice? I wonder just how many members the MA has lost. I know that many of my former colleagues are extremely unhappy and considering whether or not to continue.

  2. I am certainly aware that many JPs on my bench have left the MA in disgust at it's failure to address this issue with any great vigour. A fairly weak statement from Mr Monkhouse just won't cut it I'm afraid.

    Others of course have indeed taken the 'nuclear' option and resigned from the Bench - while I certainly believe this charge is inequitable, I won't resign simply because the conspiracy theorist in me says that's what the MOJ WANT us to do. Another nail in the coffin of the Magistracy and I'm not prepared to be the hammer!! I've also heard that some DJ's - despite the diktat that we are not permitted to adjust other fines etc to take account of the CC - are doing just that and certainly CPS costs are fair game.

  3. You mention the Law Society and sloppy journalism in the piece above, but it can't even get this one right. The CCC was introduced on April 13th, not in March.

  4. The issue that doesn't seem to get addressed with the Criminal Criminal Courts Charge is that it is levied only on convicted defendants. In the case of an acquittal - or even where charges are withdrawn, the prosecution should be made to pay a similar amount. Currently, the court APPEARS to have a vested interest in guilty verdicts. I know that any charge levied on the Prosecution will eventually come out of one part of the public purse and into another, but appearances do matter.

  5. There is a distict difference between what I can say publicly as a judicial office holder, subject to the disciplinary process and the fact that tomorrow I will have to sit in court and deliver this awful charge.
    This is why I put the media in touch with magistrates who have resigned, like Bob Hutchinson and George Lyons, because they can now speak unencumbered.
    I could of course grumble anonymously on blogs, but that has little effect.
    There is much I can do and have been doing privately to get others like the Howard League on board to support our campaign.
    Of course magistrates can leave the MA and mumble over their pints in the pub, but I need stay involved with the senior judiciary, parliamentarians and others if I and we are to have any effect.
    Publicly I need to be circumspect in the language I can use, otherwise I will be ignored like these blogs. If you don't understand that, then I am sorry for you.
    I will continue to do the job appropriately. Once I leave I can be as noisy as anyone else.
    If you don't like that, then get involved yourselves, instead of hiding behind daft names on blogs.

    Richard Monkhouse (still not anonymous)

  6. What happened to the 'distance' between the legislature and the judiciary? We are being given no opportunity for discretion.

  7. Piece this morning on Sky News about the resignations.......shame Magistrates are never mentioned as VOLUNTEERS.......maybe that, along with the Charity status of the MA could confuse Joe Public even more..........


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