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Ballot Box to Jury Box: The Life and Times of an English Crown Court Judge
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Ballot Box to Jury Box: The Life and Times of an English Crown Court Judge (Paperback)

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Traces the authors political ambitions and tells how he came to discard the ballot box for the court bench which in England the judges, who are not elected, are obliged to do - of his experiences as a politician, broadcaster, lawyer, judge and family man - and the array of leading lights and everyday folk.

BiographyBiography: general Publisher: Waterside Press Publication Date: 14/11/2005 ISBN-13: 9781904380191  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Customer Reviews

A SERIOUS BUSINESS AND A SPECIAL CAUSE An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers This is, without doubt, a special book which combines personal judicial memories with an historic understanding of the history of the Liberal Party in second last half of the twentieth century. It is a very ‘human’ book, which is to be expected in view of the author’s experiences, and it gives a new insight into some of the hitherto unknown aspects of political life from the end of World War Two. The latter part of the book illustrates some candid commentaries on contemporary judicial thinking at the time and John Baker is not inhibited when describing some of the individuals he has become involved with professionally since 1972. It is clear that Judge Baker was a loss to the Parliamentary world, but it is also interesting to reflect, as I have done, on how many active politicians I have met from all three main parties who fall into the same category as Baker. My Tory colleagues have often described election to Parliament as a lottery and, I am afraid I have to agree. Of course, luck plays its prominent part but politics was not to be for John Baker – the Bench was all the better for this course of events. It was fortunate for the English judicial system that the Courts Act arrived when it did (long overdue), enabling Baker to participate in one of the more exciting reforms of the late twentieth century. He is probably lucky he does not have to put up with the current ‘reforms’ which are more to do with expediency and cost cutting after some ill-thought out extravagancies from 1990s which have left the criminal justice process in a complete mess. Baker is also lucky to have escaped the crusading media who are clearly out to criticise lenient sentencing and ‘outing soft judges’ when the media don’t know what it is collectively talking about. Whilst much has been written of John Baker’s political life, it is for his judicial work that he will be remembered. From chapter 7 onwards with ‘Starting on the Bench’ he describes, with some candour, the plight which can confront newly appointed judges. I suspect his practice as a solicitor gave him an additional insight into what the Lord Chancellor expected of Her Majesty’s Judges in 1970s – thankfully, a role now firmly in the hands of the Lord Chief Justice. Any member of the Bar who has an interest in pursuing a judicial career should read this book. It is written very much in the personal style of the man himself and paints a most useful picture of the path which the judiciary have taken since the big changes of the 1970s and the creation of the Judicial Studies Board. The mixture of everyday people and the various celebrities which one meets in both politics and law is well covered and dealt with deftly by Baker who has an amiable but firm approach throughout. I have read many judicial biographies and autobiographies but this one stands out for the serious business and the special cause which John Baker has stood for: it is a great addition to the world of judicial biography.

- 27/06/2016
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