Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Referee's Mistaken

I don't enjoy shouting at football referees as much as I used to before I became a Magistrate. We have too much in common :-

* We do an essential job that is under-valued
* We have to make complex decisions based on little information too quickly
* Everyone thinks they can do the job much better than we can

That said, I did add my my voice to the 20,000 or so Bolton fans to argue with Mr. Wiley whose shocking decision-making cost Bolton the game against Liverpool. On the plus side, it was a remarkable game of football, and Steven Gerrard's winner was an absolute belter.

I also had a bad day on the job recently, and there was one particular case which I was glad wasn't played out in a stadium.

It concerned a man that I can only describe as "a local gangster". Hardly any earnings reported on his means form, but dressed head to toe in designer gear. He walked into court holding hands with his girlfriend, who looked like a model and dressed like one too. Not cheap to run one of those I imagine.

He and some "colleagues" had been out drinking champagne in a local bar. One of them decided to do something really stupid. He went up to the bar and asked them to make "the gayest drink possible". Lots of fruit, little umbrellas, pink glass and a little pink straw. Then he brought it over to our gangster with a big stupid smile on his face.

When the dust had settled, many things had been tipped over, a face had sustained some aesthetic damage - all before Mr Corleone remembered that he was on a suspended sentence for another matter.

I don't want to go into the exact details, but every single person involved in the sentencing decision had a disaster, including this inexperienced winger. The chairman committed us to a decision early, probation took an early lunch break, and the legal advisor neglected to give us the full facts about his previous and the options available to us.

Looking back on it though, justice still ended up being done. Maybe he got a slightly lighter slap than he deserved, but it wasn't a complete disaster.

Although that's where the parallel with the Bolton vs Liverpool game breaks down - Bolton actually deserved to win, and they didn't. Thank you, Mr Wiley.

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