Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If Only The World Is A Better Place.

When you are up there on the Bench, there are times you just have too many things to write till you don’t have much time for eye contact. I’m saying this with regards to criminal matters as the law states the notes of proceedings must be “handwritten” by the trial judge. My colleagues from the Chambers assured me that the amendment to allow for recording and typing of criminal proceedings is just around the corner but till that happens, I just hope my fingers don’t grow six packs around them.

Back to the eye contact issue, I do get much eye contact of traffic summons cases as it is easy to dispose them and requires less writing. There are boxes prepared and all I need to do is just to fill in the blanks. For example, there is a box where I’d write:

1. The Prosecuting Officer’s name,
2. “H.S.” which means “Hadir Sendiri” (present by himself),
3. “S.S.” which means “Sabit Salah” (convicted)
4. “PBTF – MS – FSAP – BM” which means “Pertuduhan diBacakan, diTerangkan dan diFahami – Mengaku Salah – Faham Sebab dan Akibat Pertuduhan – Bahasa Malaysia” (Charge Read and Understood – Plead Guilty – Understand the Meaning and Consequence of the Charge –Malaysian Language)
5. A small box for the chap’s mitigating factors,
6. Court’s sentence,
7. Put my signature down and say “Thank you and NEXXXT!!!”

Anyhow, I can only imagine how it feels to be in the accused’s shoe. I long to have the ability to know each and everyone’s feelings adjudicated before me. The reason is simple. When I impose a particular sentence, I try to be just and equitable. My dad always reminds me to be adil (just) and have ihsan (equitable). But do they feel that I’m just and equitable?

The mitigating factors can be like she’s a single mother; no secured job; still a student; no source of income; no source of income and have to maintain one’s mother, wife, child, siblings (Yes, you read it right, he has no income and he maintains all of his family members. When asked how does he do it, he just looks down and wonder why he gave such a ridiculous reason.) etc.

When I impose a sentence, I take into my consideration not only the accused’s mitigating factors but how hard it is actually for the enforcement officers to trace these offences.
The dangerous hazard of stopping a car, not knowing if the driver is drunk / sleepy / notices that you are flagging his car and not just run you down like you’re an empty bottle. The time and energy it takes to stand in the middle of the road getting only 5 out of 10 motorcycles with offences, one out of 10 cars with offences. (There are more motorcycles without road tax than a four wheeled vehicle according to my experience on the Bench.) Should the car driver be a hostile fugitive with a gun thinking that you are looking for him, or is your ex-wife or girlfriend you were hiding from, or even your only child rempiting the time of his life, these are the scenarios you might get into if you are really really unlucky!

Having all that at the back of your mind in a matter of 8 minutes while the charge is being read, the guilty plea, the mitigating factors, the recording of the conviction, I have to determine the appropriate sentence.

By God!

I try to be just and equitable for everyone before me. Probably that’s why I start to give safety road rules lectures to the accused just to buy time for me to come up with a suitable sentence.

The question is, do the adjudicated individuals before me feel that I have been just? Or do they feel betrayed, dizalimi, not heard and ultimately feels that there is no justice in the Malaysian Court especially before me!!!

I can sense that some feel very happy. You can see it in their eyes that they appreciate my sense of reasoning. Especially if I caution and discharge them (let them off for free) for driving a car with an expired road tax for 40 minutes before they were caught by the enforcement officers. (Road tax expired on 1.2.2008, kena saman pukul 12.40pagi on 2.2.2008) That’s why there is the judiciary to keep the check and balance of the enforcement officers.

Sometimes, you can just see their eyes cursing you for not reducing the fines after their sad sad story. Most of the time, you can see how displeased they are when I do not buy their reason for me not to disqualify their driving licence for 12 months. It’s not that I can. The law is very strict and particular about it that I myself feel cornered and not able to maneuver to help them. I feel like I want to explain to them ever so clearly that I have no power if they have no special reason. I try to but they just can’t grasp it. It frustrates me up there when they feel oppressed down there. I even told one chap to vote properly and then ask the wakil rakyat to propose for the amendment of the law.

All in all, I know, for a fact, that everytime I get down from my Bench, my conscience is clear, my mind is free, my heart feels contented and I feel satisfied that I have disposed my duties, as a Magistrate, properly. And if I have to take away people’s liberty and send them to jail, I feel that I have to but I feel terrible that he did what he did. I pity that he did the offence. All the “Why” in the world can never change the fact that the offence was committed but I do feel sorry for the poor guy.

If only the world is a better place. Than all the criminal Magistrates will be out of work!

Blog adjourned!

3 obiter dictum:

Rin said...

accidentally terjumpa blog ni..nice blog.. owh, sudah 'tuan' skrg rupanya..

Aidahs said...

So... belom ada planning to have any kids yet? ewah dengan tak bagi salamnya.. ehehhehe.. have one.. you'll feel the wonders in the world bro!

two_one said...

Sufanasrin: hehehe, stumbled upon my blog? biasa-biasa je blog ni... :)

aidahs:belum lagi... rileks-rileks dulu, tengah honeymoon lagi...