As ever the voice of legal reason on the current season of riot, mayhem and looting of Sweetie Pick ‘n Mix shops (absolutely true, see the Birmingham disturbances, well have you seen the price of pick ‘n mix these days), is the anonymous magistrate who writes the ever-so excellent Magistrates Blog .
Here is a man (I think) who every month sits in front of hundreds of ill-do’ers, ne’er-do-well’s, downright criminals and the occasional granny who didn’t pay her TV licence, to dole out summary justice, slaps on the wrist, mental health reports and referrals to higher courts in a measured and calm way in a courtroom which is detached from the incidents to which they consider and then apply the guidelines written in The Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines.
Its how the law should work, the police scrape up the wrong do’ers from the streets and treat them in a consistent manner while gathering evidence for a bench of lay people to consider at some later date where everything is then black and white with no shades of grey and we can be sure that the rules are followed with consistency – applying the law can’t happen on the streets at the time of the offence and the toll that a civilised society levies for the crime of breaking a shop window can’t ever be a bullet through the back of the head, not in my country anyway.
The bullshit of politicians often clashes with the rule of the law too, particularly when the rule of law is turned on the bullshitting politicians, but also when politicians try and look tough and speak without thought at press conferences, as The Magistrate points out in his post “Afraid Not”, juveniles arrested on the streets over the past few nights will still be dealt with in the way in which all juveniles are dealt with and our beloved Prime Ministers insistence that “if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment” is a soundbite for the baying press which promises nothing at all other than the juvenile courts will deal with them in exactly the same way as they would have on any other day in accordance with the historical and well established guidelines issued to those courts by the politicians and law lords.
Furthermore in his post “A Few Basics” he points out exactly what “the due course of law” actually means and why it should be followed without regard to bullshitting politicians or the baying media hacks and in his own excellent summary, ” Cases that cause outrage must be dealt with meticulously, however slow and frustrating that may appear to be. This is Britain – we have seen this sort of thing before and we shall see it again, and the rule of law is too precious to be bent in a moment’s indignation.”
* Links to individual posts are, for some unknown reason, unavailable in The Magistrates Blog