In the early days of this blog I was quite aggressive about the Magistrates Association. But as time went on, I mellowed somewhat. Their previously shambolic appearances in the media became merely ineffectual and I moved onto other things to be cross about.
Last week, after four years on the bench, I actually met my local Magistrates Association representative and my dander is well and truly in the upright position once more.
He was stirring up opposition to a totally logical merger of two under-utilised benches. I found it hard to understand his argument, but it seemed to boil down to "Scary change ! If we let them change this, what else will they change next, eh ?"
The vast majority of my scheduled sittings this year have been cancelled due to lack of work. This isn't happening as much on larger benches where workload can be spread around, so it seems well worth trying to me. But he (and presumably the MA also) are opposing it on the grounds that inertia has to be the best policy.
He was rather disappointed not to receive my support and asked if I was going to the Association's AGM. I had to further disappoint him by saying that I wasn't a member. He didn't ask me why, which was a shame as it would have been a great opportunity to ask why the Magistrates Association have been quiet, maybe even complicit, in management's attempt to impose arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions on Magistrates' online activities.
Actually, where are the Magistrates' Association on that subject ? I'm not a member so I don't expect a personal briefing but I can't find any comment from them online. Last I heard they were working hard to get us all nice badges.