Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Useful Information For Magistrates

I read a document today called "Useful Information for Magistrates". This document has been published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. This is one of the most patronising and sarcastic 'official' publications that I have come across recently.

Here a few quotes from the guidance:

What should I do if I don'’t agree with a law that has been passed?
All magistrates are required to obey the law and to enforce any law that is enacted. If you were to break any relevant law enacted by Parliament, or to refuse to enforce it, this would be likely to constitute conduct incompatible with the requirements of your office. It is also important that magistrates maintain the dignity, standing and good reputation of the magistracy at all times. Those found to have brought the magistracy into disrepute are liable to disciplinary action. Before deciding to express in public your personal views on any sensitive or controversial issue, you must consider carefully how your position might be perceived by those who come before you in court, and the implications it might have for wider public confidence in the administration of justice.

What can I tell others about my work as a magistrate?

There is no reason why you shouldnĂ‚’t discuss the work of the court in general terms, especially as this helps promote a greater understanding of the magistracy and might encourage other people to apply. However, a great deal of the work you will be involved in will be of a confidential nature. You should never discuss individual cases, past or present, or reveal information to which you had privileged access (such as the views expressed in retiring room discussions). You should also be alert to the danger of doing anything which might bring the magistracy into disrepute or seriously compromise your impartiality.

This is from the What should I do if the media wants to speak to me? section:

On very rare occasions the media have tried to gain access to a magistrate at their home (usually after an unsuccessful attempt to interview them at the court). This can be very unsettling. However, you can do the following:
- Avoid answering the door, even to say no comment” as you might still be photographed.
- Avoid making a scene as this will add to the journalist'’s story.
- Get a friend or relative to run errands.
- Use an answerphone to screen incoming calls.
- If you need to go outside, adopt a calm, polite attitude and donĂ‚’t get tempted to make a rash comment.

If a reporter or photographer is on the pavement, they are not breaking the law.

I have a great deal of respect for the senisble Magistrates out there who deal with something like 95% of all criminal cases, but publications like this make it seem as if the Magistrates that fill our Courts are incapable of dealing with simple, everyday decisions.


Anonymous said...

Is this a joke?

Gavin said...

I thought it was a well drafted peice of sarcasm.

Bystander said...

Now that the courts are run by civil servants we are seing more and more of this crap. I had an advance copy, and as you say it is patronising and useless. th writer will get an MBE next year no doubt.

Kicknit said...

LOL. Kind of reminds me of instructions found on shampoo: 1) apply to wet hair 2) lather 3) rinse

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