Friday, August 26, 2005

My Favourite District Judge

There is one District Judge that I am quite happy to sit and observe if I am waiting for cases to become 'ready' at the Magistrates Court. Today I had the misfortune of having to wait most of the day for my case to be dealt with, but I did have the good fortune to see this particular District Judge.

Victim number one was an unrepresented Defendant who had a strong Italian accent. He was on conditional bail and had turned up to Court to ask to vary the hours of his curfew. Unfortunately as the Defendant spoke with a strong Italian accent the District Judge had difficulty in understanding him. During his particular Court hearing the Clerk acted as an interpreter and after his curfew was varied twice he asked for a third time when the District Judge snapped, "No, I have made my mind up. Now just get out of my Court.... Go!"

Victim number two was the solicitor acting for a Defendant who had pleaded guilty to excess alcohol. The foolish solicitor had not done her homework and started to argue that the Defendant should not be disqualified from driving as he would suffer exceptional hardship. The District Judge rolled their eyes and made it clear on three occasions that exceptional hardship could not prevent the Defendant from being disqualified - then the District Judge pronounced, "Don't you get it, exceptional hardship won't work". Then they moved on with the mitigation with the District Judge asking questions that the solicitor could only answer by taking further instructions from her Client. At one point the solicitor asked for permission to take instructions from the Defendant in the dock, the District Judge replied, "I wish you had taken some instructions in the first place". The solicitor in my opinion was asking for a hard time when they were asked how much Defendant earned and the solicitor replied, "He earns £8.75 per hour before tax". Eventually the case was disposed of with the Client being disqualified from driving for 18 months and generally given a sentence that bore noresemblancee to the mitigation put forward.

The third victim really was asking for trouble. The Defendant was an overnight custody case. When the Defendant was brought up to the Court not guilty pleas were entered and then the following dialogue took place:

District Judge: What do you say about venue?
Solicitor: You have jurisdiction.
Prosecutor: High value deception. Not suitable Ma'am.
District Judge: Sorry?
Solicitor: You have jurisdiction.
District Judge: I know, but what do you have to say about venue?
Solicitor: The Defendant wants her trial to take place here.
District Judge: I haven't heard your representations on mode of trial yet. Is this suitable for summary trial. What do you have to say?
Solicitor: Yes.
District Judge: Oh, I am declining jurisdiction. Are you making a bail application?
Solicitor: No.
Prosecutor: Objections are fail to surrender, commit further offences. The Defendant has no immigration status and no way of financing a legitimate lifestyle.
District Judge: Okay, I am remanding the Defendant in custody for four weeks for committal. Does your Client want to come back here next week?
Solicitor: Yes.
District Judge: Why?
Solicitor: Yes.
District Judge: Take instructions from your Client would you, her bail situation is hopeless.
Solicitor: [Takes instructions] She wants to come back next week.
District Judge: Are you sure?
Solicitor: Yes
District Judge: Will you be making a further bail application?
Solicitor: No.
District Judge: So why does she want to come back?
Probation Officer: What she [referring to the District Judge] means is does your Client want to come back next week and make a bail application, not, does she want to come back for committal.
Solicitor: Oh, no, she does not want to come back.

At this point I was sniggering and had to leave the Court. I should also mention that at one point the Prosecutor was dealing with objecting to bail on a firearms case, she finished her objections and sat down. The Defence Solicitor stood up and was about to make his bail application when the Prosecutor stood up again, held her hand up in the air and waited until the District Judge looked at her so she could put her hand down and said, "Ma'am I do have one further objection to make". It seemed like I was back at school at that point.


Anonymous said...

That wasn't D. J. Quick of Highbury Corner, by any chance, was it?

Gavin said...

Damn good guess, you are very close but think more of Thames Magistrates Court...

Anonymous said...

Ma`am Quick...........How I miss her!!!

(An ex-Holloway PC)