Tom Collins was sent to the cells after twice calling Magistrate Matthew McLaughlin “mate” during a hearing last week. The magistrate objected ordering Collins to address him as “sir or your honour”, the defendant replied “okay mate” and was sent for a stint in the cells.
This followed another incident in Toowoomba, where a magistrate hauled two tradesmen before the court for making too much noise, and threatened to charge them with contempt.
This reminds me of Zucker’s take on Barbara Boxer:
Labor councilor Paul Tully has called on Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Butler to introduce annual anger management classes for all Queensland magistrates. I guess, Paul’s a statist so it is only to be expected that he will come up with a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
It is generally a good idea to treat people with a degree of courtesy, as you are more likely to receive the same back. This includes police and magistrates, who are after all, in a position to make pricks of themselves and in the odd case, seem to like doing so.
In a case like this it is difficult to assess whether the guy was actually being disrespectful, or whether he is just one of those people who call everyone mate. The public when addressing a magistrate are in the main not there of their own free will, nor by invitation. They are usually there because they are ordered to be there with at least implied threats, even on jury duty.
With this in mind, they should understand that they are forcing the public into their world which is designed their way, and which many of us consider to be a rather silly world from a bygone era. I mean frocks and wigs in the present day?
People who deal with the public by authority have to lighten up a bit and accept the public as they find it, we are not obliged to abide by their perceptions of what we should be. Courts should be respected, but they should also try to deserve that respect.