My other half is currently running me about because I’ve lent my car to daughter No 2 for a while. I can’t drive his so he’s taking me where I need to go and loiters for a bit while he waits for me to finish the job.
I was in a magistrates court the other day and there were only a couple of petty cases left by lunchtime so I decided to leave and get back to my office. The reporter from the other paper that covers the court left before I did because he was so unimpressed by the list and the amount of time it was taking the bench to deal with each case.
My other half was talking to some chap as I came out of court and into the waiting room and he said : “You’re in luck, mate.” A broad smile flashed across the defendant’s face as he turned to face me.
“Are you a reporter?” he said.
“Errr, yes,” I replied.
“Are you coming back?”
“Is the other chap?”
His smile got even broader.
“Bonus!” he said. “You always think you say the right things in court until you read it in the paper and your mates take the piss.”
It got me thinking about this job and why I do it. I guess it’s the equivalent of putting someone in the stocks. A factual court report is the modern form of public humiliation and sometimes it is the only punishment some defendants get. Some deserve it, some don’t, there seems to be no real fairness about who gets it.
This bloke, like many others, is not scared of what magistrates are going to do to him. He has no fear of the system.
“I can handle prison, a fine, anything, but I fucking hate it when my name gets in the paper,” he said.
He was there because he’d spat in a policeman’s face. He said he was going to plead not guilty. My reporting would have been restricted.
Some defendants will do anything not to be in the paper. The other reporter told me how a defendant once ran off with his notebook to avoid the possibility. Unfortunately for the defendant, the security officer got it back.
Nulabour took the fear of public humiliation away with their fanatical legal cost cutting measures which resulted in fixed penalties being imposed instead of a court appearance.
Was it about “justice” or was it more to do with the court closure programme and getting rid of work? We had many courts in Lincolnshire in small and big towns and thanks to Nulab they’ve all been shut. Now there are fewer courts and fewer defendants but I’m sure it’s not because crime is going down.
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