Friday, December 30

Court blogging your honour


We here at veryBritishsubjects have known for some time that blogging is the only way onwards, forwards and upwards; now it seems folk from all walks of life are following in our footsteps.
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This is a question that is exercising some of Britain’s greatest legal minds: who is the blogging magistrate from West London baring almost all in his online diary?
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“Bystander” is a JP who writes of his trials (and tribulations) as a lay member of Britain’s ancient legal establishment. Behind the cloak of internet anonymity, he offers verdicts on all who appear before him, in a style rather different from his sober language in court.
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“What on earth was on his mind?” he wrote when a newly sentenced offender failed to attend his first two supervised appointments and was duly arrested. “Surely even the dimmest little yob could see that he had reached the end of the line?. . . Sometimes we just have to accept that a few of our clients are beyond any reach of what we would call reason.”
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Clues to his identity are carefully pared from his blog: The Law West of Ealing Broadway. He warns readers: “Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.” A school classmate is currently serving a 20-year sentence. The blogger’s hobbies are law, aviation, politics and gossip.
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Bystander is among the first of a growing number of British legal practitioners who are discovering the confessional solace of an online diary. There is “Gavin”, whose Diary of a Criminal Solicitor vents the various bitter frustrations inherent in dealing with police stations, magistrates, courts and crown courts. Human Law, which contains sober reflections on IP, IT and Employment Law, opens to strains of Hear Me by the psychedelic rock and hip-hop band the Shamen.
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Legal blogging, or “blawgging” began in the US. Perhaps the best-known web diarist was “Article III Groupie”, who gained a cult following for excitable postings on “superhotties of the federal jury” and the “Bodacious Babes of the Bench”. Now, according to Nick Holmes, a legal web watcher, blogging is starting to penetrate the consciousness of even UK lawyers. Bystander signed off for Christmas with a list of recent business.
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In the last few days he had seen a man of 72 charged with common assault, “a man who is a dead ringer for Ronnie Barker . . . a witness even mentioned it on his statement”, and a prosecution so zealous of the new zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence that it brought a case where “no blow was struck, but a cheap clock was damaged”.
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In Diary of a Criminal Solicitor, Gavin often finds himself “in utter amazement or red-faced with anger” as he negotiates the intricacies of the UK justice system. “You will find me ranting and raving in this blog about anything and everything that gets up my nose,” he writes. There was the client who “announced to the world” in court that he had no previous convictions for assaulting police officers when the record showed four such convictions: “This was a case where I expected to, and did, go down in flames,” he writes.
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The Lord Chief Justice’s office said that no judge had applied for permission to blog but that if any did they would have to comply with the Judges’ Council guide to conduct. That says that a judge “like any other citizen, is entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly, but in exercising such rights, a judge shall always conduct himself or herself in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary”.
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As we head towards the New Year, we invite you all to sit down at your keyboard and begin blogging - it can be life-changing. For help, hints and advice, please contact us on verybritishproductions@yahoo.co.uk
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For those of you who prefer to watch, rather than do - keep your eye on us, we have big plans for 2006 and beyond.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Congratulations to those of the UK justice system for finding a way to vent their frustrations and having the courage to take them. This is not only a great way to vent but also a way to allow those of us without courtroom experience to see what really goes on in the minds of those who do have that experience. It makes them seem not so far removed from us.
That they might and do have feelings beyond what might be shown but that are covered up by their ability to remove themselves from said feelings and get on with the job at hand. However distateful a job it might be. Besides it is not without benefit to realize that the guy who earns a ton of money defending people who are guilty don't always sleep soundly and are just as frustrated as the rest of us!