Local justice

I’ve often heard about a certain eccentric magistrate in the far South West of England who doles out his own form of justice through imaginative forms of community service based mainly around the courthouse. But until Friday afternoon I’d never seen it first hand. I was down there to do a plea in mitigation for a privately paying client on a pretty small road traffic case. As I approached the court building, I saw about three hoodies climbing ladders perched against the wall and asked the security guard at the entrance what was going on. “Oh they’re just a couple of His Worship’s new window cleaners,” came back the answer. Then as I entered the building itself, I saw three more hoodies cleaning the floor. I looked back at the security guard as if to repeat my question and he raised his eyebrows with a knowing smile and nodded as if to say “Three more of His Worship’s cleaners.” As I entered the robing room, a hoodie asked if he could take my coat and after I passed it to him a little suspiciously he took it and put it on the stand. Then another appeared out of nowhere and asked if I’d like a cup of coffee or tea before I made my appearance. Two more of His Worship’s workers, no doubt.

That was all before I entered the courtroom itself which was quite a spectacle. There were two hoodies in each of the four corners of the room, each standing stock still with their hands on their heads. Clearly naughty hoodies in their respective naughty corners. But best of all were the two hoodies standing on each side of the stipendiary magistrate wielding huge bamboo fans as well as another who stood there holding a silver platter with jug full of iced water ready to refill his glass. Now don’t get me wrong, it was indeed a hot day and what’s more courtrooms are notoriously stuffy places at the best of times (in all senses of the word). But even so, it left him looking like a strange cross between a Roman emperor, a kind of Mr Kurz figure lazing around in the jungle bellowing out orders to the locals and Ricky Gervais nossing around his minions in The Office.

All of which put the fear of God into my privately paying and ever so pompous middle-aged lady who wouldn’t have wanted to be seen dead with any of those hoodies, never mind doing what she considered to be tasks which were, er, beneath her. However, when the magistrate came to sentencing he looked down at me with a twinkle in his eye and said that he’d give my client a choice: six points on her licence or a day spent serving drinks to the hoodies.

Despite all her snooty comments, when her bluff was called, she took the day serving drinks.

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July 7, 2015 · Tim Kevan · 2 Comments
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2 Responses

  1. John Carr - June 7, 2010

    Hilarious. I’m sure there’s scope for the magistrate to come up with a few more imaginative punishments yet!

  2. Pensionlawyeruk - June 11, 2010

    Love it and I shall definitely try a few of these more imaginative sentences myself next week when I’m next sitting!! Mind you, I suspect my clerk and the Probation Service might have other ideas – shame!!