Amongst the qualities required for appointment as a magistrate when I applied was common sense. Those two words were actually written in the application form. That quality is not indicated at all in the current application form or notes which include the following:-
You need to show you’ve got the right personal qualities, for example that you are:
aware of social issues
mature, understand people and have a sense of fairness
reliable and committed to serving the community
You also need to be able to:
understand documents, follow evidence and communicate effectively
think logically, weigh up arguments and reach a fair decision
When I made an official inquiry many years ago as to why this personal quality was omitted I was told that what might be "common" to some people might not be common to others who were immigrants or unfamiliar with the mores of this country and would therefore be at a disadvantage. British citizenship is not a requirement to sit as a J.P.; a rule with which I profoundly disagree.
It seems, however, that the good J.P. folk of Dorset don`t know their own rules. Rachel Small , a recently appointed magistrate interviewed by the Daily Echo with regard to magistrate recruitment, is quoted as saying inter alia, "They can come from all backgrounds, but must have "common sense and personal integrity". Her full interview is available here.
From my years on the bench and nine years of seeking out various goings on at magistrates` courts for this blog the lack of common sense amongst recently appointed benches in recent years seems to be a logical conclusion for some strange or very unusual decisions.