Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 16/08/11

Justice Is Blinded

I wish I didn't have cause to say, "I told you so.". But I'm afraid I do.

It has become monstrously clear in the last few days that the whole administration of what it still pleases us to delude ourselves into calling 'justice' has been corrupted by considerations which should have no part in the cool, deliberative assessment that such a system should embody.

More and more people have been herded through the lower courts in London and elsewhere, where magistrates - who could not possibly have had enough time properly to assess the cases in front of them - have been sentencing people to terms of imprisonment completely out of proportion to whatever criminal act they may have actually committed.

It is quite possible that some of them - be it for reasons of personal whim, ideological rigour or just a heightened sense of their own importance - would have handed out sentences of this nature anyway, but in the light of statements such as those from the man who is currently in charge of doing impressions of a Prime Minister, to whit that anyone convicted of anything which might be remotely connected to the 'riots' ought to be put in prison, it seemed - even at such an early juncture - perfectly clear that the junior judiciary was being put under pressure.

Now, it has become more than just 'seemed':

"Magistrates are being advised by the courts service to disregard normal sentencing guidelines when dealing with those convicted of offences committed in the context of last week's riots.

"The sentencing advice from Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service came to light after the chair of Camberwell Green magistrates court, Novello Noades, claimed that the court had been given a government 'directive' that anyone involved in the rioting be given a custodial sentence."


"She later retracted her statement and said she was mortified to have used the term 'directive'."

To which one must ask; then why did you use it, y'worship?

So this is what we have come to: that many of the sentences which are now being passed (or which will be passed when most of those who have been imprisoned without trial by the same amateurs come up at the higher courts for trial and/or sentencing) - sentences which, as I have previously pointed out, are sufficient totally to wreck the 'life chances' of those subject to them - are not only being motivated by lack of scrutiny or some sort of class animus (magistrates are mostly middle-class, middle-aged and middle-income), but are the result of a deliberate end-run around sentencing guidelines which have been established by due and careful consultation and consideration in order to comply with a nakedly political imperative.

The only possible good thing which might come from this is that the latest revelations of political interference might ensure that these sentences are overturned on appeal, although it remains to be seen whether those appeals - even if successful - will be dealt with with sufficient dispatch to prevent the original sentences having their destructive effects (a basic rule of the English legal system is that a miscarriage of justice may take minutes to create, but it will always take years to remedy).

And if you are one of those who sits there cheering on the judiciary as they obey the 'directives' of a government which is all too aware that it is in deep shit, and if you are one of those who thinks that it doesn't matter what happens to 'rioters' or 'looters' or 'anarchists' or whoever the officially-designated 'Other' du jour might be, because they're all as guilty as hell anyway and they deserve it; then, when you are lying all smug and warm in your bed tonight, just after you've turned the light off, then ponder a little, and hope and (if you are so minded) pray that neither you nor anyone you care about ever has to come up in front of a magistrate or judge who might be in a similar position. If that happens, you can scream and whine all you want, but you were happy to let the precedent be set and so must face the consequences.

In all this, as ever, the most certain way of ensuring that justice will be done to us, should we ever find ourselves on the sharp end of it, and the best way of safeguarding our own right to fair treatment, is to ensure that that justice, that fair treatment, apply to everyone, even - in fact, especially - to those of whom we disapprove.

Otherwise, remember Pastor Niemöller.

Footnote: Even as I was putting this post together, this was happening:

"Two men have been jailed for four years for using Facebook to incite disorder."

"Neither of their Facebook posts resulted in a riot-related event."

Jeezus H Christ On A Fucking Moped, what is going on here? The judiciary has gone mental. They are - yes, the only phrase to use - running riot.

Especially viewed in the context of this:

"A man who inflicted "catastrophic injuries" with a single punch in an unprovoked attack has been jailed for three years."

"The victim, who has not been named, fell backwards onto tram tracks and suffered life-threatening head injuries, including bleeding and swelling to the brain, as well as a broken jaw and several broken teeth."

"A spokeswoman for Nottinghamshire Police said that although he is making progress, he is unable to communicate and it is likely he will require full-time care for the rest of his life."

So there we have it: three years for incapacitating someone for life, but four years for posting some words on a website. Something is very, very rotten here.