Some people love to criticise the Judiciary.
Their arguments usually have a common theme.
Judges are either too soft, too hard, or removed from the realities of everyday life.
They think that Judges’ are too soft because their sentences are too short.
Or that they’re too hard, because their sentences are too severe.
They’re convinced that Judges don’t know what goes on in the real world.
That they’re simply ‘out of touch’.
These are nice theories, nice in the sense that they’re neat and tidy.
They aren’t hard to understand.
As humans we like stuff that doesn’t tax our brains.
That's why we're drawn to simple theories.
Because they're easier to grasp.
But the theories ignores the fact that Judges are generally on the bench for decades at a time.
They see the worst elements of society almost every day.
Far more than you and I.
Some of these people are very troubled and very dangerous.
So they're hardly removed from the cold realities of life.
Then there’s you.
The Coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with court lists.
And if the lists -already lengthy before the virus- are to be brought under control the Judiciary will have to work extra hard to cut through them.
It’s a huge task but the Judiciary have made it a priority.
Its very important to them.
That makes it very important to you, if you’re appearing in court.
Every time a Judge has to slow down the pace at which they’re moving through their list, their day gets longer.
And they don’t want that.
If you’re representing yourself in court, you don’t want that either.
As a Judge you have to ensure that the person who comes to court unrepresented, understands what’s going on.
You have to make sure of this, otherwise there’s a risk of an injustice.
That’s another thing Judges don’t like.
After all, you wouldn’t let a three-year-old cross the road on their own, would you?
You wouldn’t let that happen because the child doesn’t understand the dangers posed by a busy street.
So it is with court.
You might have no idea of the consequences of a conviction, or how it might impact your future.
But the Judge does.
So they have to protect you.
If the charge is serious or carries significant sanctions the Judge now has obligations.
Not to themselves.
Not to the court.
The obligation is to protect you against the severity of the law.
To protect you from yourself.
But the Judge has to explain this to you if you decide to represent yourself.
Has to explain that maybe you should consider getting legal advice.
And explaining this causes their list to come to a halt.
That’s difficult enough if only one person comes to court unrepresented.
If two or three people come to court unrepresented on the same day, that’s two or three occasions when the entire court business stops.
That leads to delays.
So, the Judge is not likely to be happy.
And yet, Judges rarely complain about this.
It’s as if some things are more important.
Which, when you think about it, is nice.
So, if you have to go to court, at the very least get legal advice.
Talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about.
And no, that doesn’t mean talking to your friend who knows someone who knows someone who was possibly in court one time 8 or 10 years ago.
That means talking to someone with knowledge of the law.
And its consequences.
After all you wouldn’t take medical advice from a tree surgeon, would you?
So that’s why the Judge does things like this in court.
Not for their sake.
And you thought they were out of touch.