Benches, PJs and Wings

Our April monthly meeting featured Suzy Felstead, a Magistrate with 23 years experience of sitting on the bench in Leicestershire and a lady of many talents – not least of them her ability as an interesting and engaging speaker.

Apart from giving a good overview of how to become a Magistrate (no – you don’t need to be a lawyer, you get a lot of topical training and mentoring!) Suzie gave us an insight into how the court system works and the challenges Magistrates have to face while doing their work as volunteers in the justice system. And some of the attendees where roped in to help demonstrating – but be assured: no members of the MHWI were harmed in the experiment…

Suzy’s stories and examples ranged from the interesting (such as the sort of things Magistrates need to take into consideration when evaluating evidence) to the the funny (like the story of a defendant who promoted her during proceedings from Sweetheart to Darling to Your Majesty) to some of the tragic but very rewarding cases where Magistrates can make a real difference to the lives of the people appearing in front of them.

What came across from Suzy’s talk most of all was how much effort Magistrates like her expend to ensure that the system is understandable to the defendant and that judgements aim not only at punishment but are made with a good dose of emotional intelligence and empathy to try and improve the life experience of the person being tried.

If you would like to know more about the subject or are considering becoming a Magistrate have a look at these websites:

https://www.magistrates-association.org.uk/About-magistrates/Becoming-a-magistrate

https://www.gov.uk/become-magistrate/can-you-be-a-magistrate

And if you would like to join the Market Harborough WI why not send us an email or join us for a ‘taster’ session at one of our monthly meetings. Details of our programme for this year can be found here.

@WIMarketHarborough, #MktHarbWI, @WILifeMagazine, @WomensInstitute

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