Spankymonkey wrote:I fail to see how "Reflecting the ethnic make up of our communities" as you put it, will in any way improve the fairness of the magistrates' courts. Unless of course you are suggesting that the existing magistracy's decisions are currently influenced by the ethnicity or other protected characteristics of the defendant.
First, I am not at all sure that there is any issue about the fairness of the magistrates' courts. If there is, please demonstrate with more than anecdote.
And secondly, at no point did I suggest that a more diverse mix, in this instance ethnicity, would have any effect on the performance of the courts. Skin colour does not affect how good someone is, or is not, at judicial decision-making. I trust you would agree?
Spankymonkey wrote:I find this type of politically fashionable group-think patronising and completely out of touch with what the public really want to see from the institutions that serve them.
It has nothing to do with 'fashionable thinking'. You maybe talk about the 'public' without thinking what that word means. Greater diversity is welcome because perception matters, and in (say) an ethnically diverse area such as that in which I sit, the appearance of an all-white bench (which thankfully now rarely happens) really does not reflect this 'public' of which you speak. The whole point of the magistracy is that we are the public, we represent the public, and it is important to uphold that, in perception as much as in reality. I'm sorry that you seem to think this is irrelevant. All all-white bench you do not object to, and yet an all middle-class bench gets you frothing at the mouth? This simply makes no sense; you seem to think that all that is needed is class diversity, whereas of course it goes much deeper than that.
Spankymonkey wrote: The question is how much of an outreach does the magistrates association make to appeal to the working class? Perhaps also the panel that interview applicants should trouble themselves less with ensuring their own political ideals and narrative is reflected back at them and be more focused on the applicants understanding of the various types of defendant's that they will most commonly see before them and a commitment to fairness and proportionality.
As far as I can remember, at no point in my interview all those years back did we discuss any form of political ideals or narratives. And, as I definitely know now, these topics are irrelevant to an application and are therefore not addressed. Why would they be? I'd go on more about the topic, but so that I understand the basis of your critique of the application process, perhaps you'd care to share where you derive your knowledge of it?
Spankymonkey wrote:And as a magistrate sits on average 35 times a year, that mentorship equates to just over a months worth of training, in court, during actual hearings, yes?
Or about 280 hours, yes. 16,800 minutes. What is the relevance of numbers? Surely what counts is what is learned and is it enough to do the job well.
I don't really understand the point that you are trying make, to be honest. You started out by poo-poohing our "3 Days" training; now that it has been shown that you were so radically wrong, you still somehow find covert grounds for criticism? The real answer is that as a magistrate you are never, and can never be, fully-trained ; I have been doing this for over a decade and I still find myself in situations which are new, for which I have not been "trained". Indeed, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job : there are always surprises around the corner. But if you follow the basic principles of that early core training then nothing new cannot be easily addressed.