Friday, April 06, 2012


This week a Magistrate was alleged to have fallen asleep during a trial. Worse, it seems he was caught bang-to-rights by the defence solicitor. Poor guy - suddenly his years of service count for nought and this is what he'll likely be remembered for.

Leaving aside the innocent-until-proven-guilty assumption that seems to have been suspended here, it's a tragedy that a momentary lack of concentration should end up with a good man being pilloried across the Mail, the Telegraph and all his local papers.

I've never come close to falling asleep in court. Sure, my mind has wandered a little. We're only human : we have no special abilities or training which allows us to keep a Zen-like focus for hours on end in an airless courthouse, no matter how enthralling the solicitors might be. And boy, some of those solicitor are far from enthralling.

You hear quite often in reports of football games that a player or a team "lost concentration" during a game. For example Jose Mourinho recently said that "(Real Madrid) ... lost a bit of concentration in the second-half ". If one of the best teams in the world can drift off collectively in the heat of battle then it's something that can happen to anyone.

So to summarise : we Magistrates take on a difficult job for no money or thanks and if we mess up even slightly then we can expect public ridicule. Put like that, you wonder why anyone would want to become a Magistrate. Or a football referee. 
My top tip : when my focus drifts, I start taking detailed notes. It's impossible as far as I know to fall asleep while writing. Not sure what football referees do,

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