On which note, I hope those of you who lack my own lawful enthusiasms will forgive one final, brisk legalese reflection in what has been, I admit, a somewhat law heavy week on the blog.
As covered by the Herald today, with a flourish of self-justifying expertise merchantry from the Government here, my favourite bendy and quasi-eloquent Cabinet Secretary, Kenny MacAskill has ordained that Sheriff Principal Edward Farquharson Bowen QC should peek over his fellow sheriff’s shoulders, and conduct a review of the procedures surrounding solemn trials in the Sheriff Court. As some of you may be familiar with, Lord Bonomy – now a Judge of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former
As if by glad coincidence, I posted earlier on the number of jury trials in
While I doubt that, in his cycle around the country, the BBC’s John Knox will find many of our goodly courtyfolk who would list this sort of “technical” reform as one of the best things Holyrood has done. How much they influence the lives of ordinary folk who’ve only ever walked by a
Although all of us may well wish to avoid finding ourselves pinioned in the grinding, half-oiled and rusted mechanisms of Scottish justice, having a care for the rights of others is crucial. It must be recalled, again and again, that public systems are creatures of public authorship. And as the old legal maxim runs, qui tacet consentire videtur. In loose translation, "silence gives consent."
When you've got all the power you need radically to change processes and ideas which seem odious or desiccated, your inactivity becomes culpable. This idea, I hope, is something Holyrood and the Scottish people are coming to appreciate more clearly. To touch, briefly, on a prior post before rounding this one off - I would suggest willingness to consider Margo's proposals are an expression of this strength - with all of the quivering and discomfiture which real, difficult judgements are attended by. Slowly, but I think significantly, we're learning the possibilities - but also the modesty - which such authority brings.