...AND ANOTHER THING: Court reports - a crime in itself?

Dodgy lawyer Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons.
Dodgy lawyer Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons.

‘Who gave you permission to put my name in the paper?!’

These words usually mark the start of a Wednesday at Chad Towers, and the court lists have been printed in today’s edition.

It’s every week, without fail.

Magistrates have long been a rich source of stories for newspapers, a melting pot of wrist-slapping justice from speeding to thieving, minor drug offences to lower-level violence.

Everyone has an interest, after all, we all want to know what our neighbour’s been up to.

You scan through the lists desperately trying to find a name you recognise. Go on, admit it.

It’s the pure nature of news and we all want in on it.

Effectively, it’s rubber-stamped gossip, and will be the first thing you tell your mates in the pub when Mr So-and-So from down the road has been caught stealing women’s underwear from Tesco.

It’s no coincidence it’s one of the most read features every single week.

And so to answer the question...we don’t need a defendant’s permission. It’s an integral part of the justice system.

If you’re going to drink drive then I think it’s fair game that your name be put in print. It might help deter you from doing it again.

When we tell them that, their next predictable move is to usually threaten us with legal action and demand a front-page apology.

Funnily enough, we never hear from them again. Ever.

I think most have watched too much Judge Judy and think they can sue because their name has appeared. Only in Hollywood, I’m afraid.

Then there are those who are obviously taking legal advice from a mate...or dodgy lawyer Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons, by telling us they can’t be named because they are a) under witness protection or b) they didn’t do it in the first place (despite being found guilty).

We tend never to hear from them again either.

Perhaps they should concentrate on staying on the right side of the law, rather than blaming someone else about their own criminal past, or conjuring up fanciful reasons as to why we should be apologising to them.