Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 25th 2015

Twelve months from now I shall no longer be a JP, rather a retired magistrate. Judiciary, be they the Lord Chief Justice or a humble magistrate must retire at 70.

In the meantime, can I wish a merry Christmas to all of my 20,000-odd colleagues, to all of our court staff, and to the lawyers, probation officers and others who do so much to make our justice system work.

Can I also spare a thought for the thousands of casualties in our society, including prisoners. Some of those in prison are so seriously damaged that they must be kept away from society for everyone's sake. Others have just slipped through life without the nurture of a family and remain outside society's fabric.

I hope that no magistrate ever fails to ponder "there but for the grace of God go I".

I certainly do.

Merry Christmas


  1. Come and join the ranks, Bystander, of those who have been kicked into the long grass. Good time to go anyway IMHO.
    May I say how much I have personally enjoyed your musings and you have provoked debate on a whole variety of topics that come into our view as JPs and some topics that don't. Your comments have always been carefully considered and I hope you continue with this blog even after you have left. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

    1. i echo this and add my thanks (5 years to go before I too topple off the end of the bench )....

  2. Hear, hear; there but for the grace of God go any of us.

  3. Not quite all will have to retire at 70 - it depends when they were appointed. For instance, six of the current members of the Supreme Court can carry on until 75. Sorry for pedantry, but as my friends might say, " why break the habits of a lifetime?" Hope you enjoy your final few months before release and that you continue to entertain and provoke thought and considered comment.

  4. I sincerely hope this blog does not bite the dust a year from now. You have done so much to educate us in the ways of the legal system and that, while the news media blames the courts for supposed lenient sentences, the courts are following the guidelines laid by government.

    Years past I followed four blogs: The magistrate, the paramedic, the police constable and the photoshop disasters. This is the only one still in existence. If this blog should fold, there will be nothing to show sanity about the justice system. All we would have is the likes of the Daily Mail. And no-one wants to rely on newspapers.

  5. Yup, to paraphrase the Boss, I've learned more here than I ever have at training. Three years to go, if I don't jump first.

  6. Yup, to paraphrase the Boss, I've learned more here than all the training put together. Three years to go, if I don't jump first. Your contributions have been both valuable and informative. Many thanks.

  7. Today I met a 25-year-old who is - probably - looking at a 5-stretch for possession with intent to supply class A - mainly due to being caught again while still 'on licence' from his last 42-month sentence for the same. Has he 'slipped through life' or is he just a baddun?

  8. There is life after the Bench, and I am sure you will make the most of it. When I was Bench Chairman, many colleagues would come to see me to ask if there was anyway they could go on beyond 70. I always had to say no, the age limit is written in primary legislation (2003 Act is the latest version). In most cases, when they had left the office, I breathed a sigh of relief that they would be going. Their interest, their spark had long gone - they had done good service but that was past. The age cut off is a bit brutal and lacks discrimination, but it serves a useful purpose. I did not protest when my time came.

  9. The only way of stretching it past 70 is to become a Bench Chairman. They only have to retire when their year is up.

    However, I assume that we will be seeing more from Bystander's team during the year to ensure that the Blog continues.


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