Saturday, 13 September 2008
He's NOT Judge Judy
A quick post, on the Judciary. This has been inspired by a post on a blog I have recently discovered, and more specifically the comments within.
I have no fear of arguing with Magistrates or any part of the legal system whilst blogging - but I do think that most magistrates still do care.
The problem is the system is not designed for caring.
The CPS often are the reason that Magistrates end up making bad decisions (just as members of public for coppers). In both cases we depend on them and a score of other people to feed us the correct information. Often that doesn't happen.
All too often CPS do not offer the case to court at all. All too often when they do, it is either as a lower charge than it should be, or just badly prosecuted. CPS prosecutors are often inexperienced and in fact some are not qualified as lawyers - in a way they represent the worst of both worlds, and I do have some sympathy with them (sometimes).
Their job is to represent victims and the police despite having no real world experience of either on a meaningful basis, no street experience. They are also supposed to be a link to the legal process and judiciary, despite often being unqualified and regularly inexperienced in that field.
Not exactly a win-win situation is it?
On top of that, they get judged on PERCENTAGE of cases won, rather than amount of cases won. So often, they simply won't fight them.
One of the many knock on effects of this (apart from offenders getting clean away, victims and witnesses feeling let down and Police Officers losing their rag) is that the Judiciary don't see the "characters" that have been arrested with the regularity that they should.
Often I hear complaints that they are out of touch - and yes, some are. Most have come from different backgrounds to the average suspect and victim that I deal with, and this can be an issue. But the way for them to even have a chance of staying "in touch" is by being presented with the suspects, the crimes, and the victims and witnesses on a regular basis, seeing the little buggers in front of them again and again, and being able to take direct action against the people they personally see as repeat offenders.
CPS do their best to make sure this does not happen - as do Penalty Notices for Disorder and Cautions.
This is before we even get to the minefield of sentencing guidelines...
Yes, some Judges are beyond out of touch. Yes, some create bizarre decisions that the vast majority of people struggle to comprehend. Our legal system is not perfect; most Police bloggers show that our part alone needs a lot of help.
But I think that sometimes, it's too easy to blame the person sitting on the top of the tree rather than the person who grew it in the first place.