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The appeal of the court

Something unexpected appears to be happening to the ancient institution of the magistracy-in some parts of Britain it is evolving into a progressive, self-questioning organisation. Jeremy Clarke has often been on the wrong side of the bench. Here, he finds reasons to be cheerful about justice

By Jeremy Clarke   October 1995

At the head of a tidal estuary in South Devon, the sash windows of the 18th-century customs house which now serves as a courthouse have been forced down as far as they will go and the geraniums in the window boxes are shedding their etiolated petals on to the hot pavement. The driest and hottest summer since the place was built is no longer an automatic conversational gambit. Inside, jackets have been removed and ties are awry. Mr John Hansell, the normally punctiliously attired defence solicitor and slow spin bowler for the local village side, has his sleeves rolled up…

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