I had a full day sitting in court yesterday. It was the usual mixture of shop lifters, domestic violence cases and drunk and disorderly familiar faces, but the contrast between the offenders was more marked than usual.
On the one hand, we had a ‘regular’ who once again had stolen a few items to fund his drug habit. He is always polite and thanks me for sentencing him. On this occasion I had to remind him that he isn’t supposed to call me ‘pet’. (My official title, ‘Your Worship’, would be beyond him.)
Then in the afternoon we went to the other extreme. A man accused of assault was brought up from the cells and refused to stand to give his name and address. When I reminded him of the formalities of court, he came out with such a loud torrent of abuse that I could hardly make myself heard. I’ve never in my life been called such foul things, and that’s saying something! In the end, after a warning, I just had to say ‘Take him down’, the man was handcuffed and we proceeded in his absence.
Such is the lot of the magistrate. And we even volunteer to do it!