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Saturday, 28 April 2018

University of 3rd AgeU3A Meeting report - Adventures of a magistrate

Speaker: Granville Dobson

Granville Dobson returned to talk to a full house at U3A Todmorden on 19th April. This time his subject was not the further adventures of a footplateman, but the equally revealing adventures of a magistrate.

This was a talk highlighted with courtroom anecdote, but which also challenged us to imagine how we might have meted out justice in certain circumstances and to consider the magistracy for ourselves.

Granville served until ten years ago in the criminal courts of the Bradford magistracy. In spite of his credentials as a 'hanger' (hardline rather than a literal hanger), he found certain courts 'depressing' or 'difficult', particularly those dealing with fines, domestic violence and prostitution.

There are 300 Bradford magistrates drawn equally from both sexes with ethnic minorities proportionally represented. They will deal with many offences only referring serious ones such as arson or rape to the Crown Court.

Magistrates are addressed as 'your worship', 'sir', or 'madam' – although on one occasion Granville was addressed as both 'your honour' and 'your majesty'.

The nub of Granville's talk lay in the way in which magistrates use the sentencing  guidelines with which they are issued and the extent to which common sense in applying them needs to be used.

The administration of justice is not a heartless affair. How do you sentence a chauffeur one-parent mother-of-two who has not been paid her £200 a week and who has sold her boss's car to a scrap merchant to raise her wage? Prison? Community punishment? Fine? Conditional discharge? Discharge?

Or someone with a 38 year record of shoplifting?

Or a tagged lad on curfew whose friend took him on a night out by carrying his electronic box for him, and who drunkenly ditched it in the Leeds and Liverpool canal because it was too heavy?

Nevertheless, the magistracy was portrayed as both necessary and serving the public good. Granville came across as an admirable public servant, firm, but not without compassion, and able to treat a serious subject with humour and pathos.

Sue Nightingale convenes the Opera Appreciation Group who meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 1.00 in The Stubbing Wharf.  

Sue's enthusiasm for this total art form – music, drama, unamplified voice, costume, scenic spectacle, and design to bring you a story of love, lust, longing, laughter and intrigue – was palpable. 

Discussion ranges over the political, historical, literary, psychological, even geographical, aspects of this most rewarding of arts. Everyone welcome! 

The new golf season has seen Todmorden Golf Club members offering hints and tips to members of U3A Todmorden, to help novice players improve their game. The initiative started last year, when an 8 week course was led by Mike Cook, who has again volunteered his services, together with other TGC members. The photograph shows Club Captain Alan Murray welcoming U3A members to the first session. 

U3A Todmorden's next meeting will be on Thursday, May 17th, 2018 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden. Our lead speaker will be Keith Coates, the steersman of our new publication – 'The First Ten Years', a history of U3A Todmorden.

Our contact details are (website) www.u3atod.org.uk, (email) enquiries@u3atod.org.uk, or (phone) 01706 812015.

Many thanks to Anthony Peter for this report


Previous U3A reports on the HebWeb - click here

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