Archive for December 6th, 2010

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Charon QC: Good morning everybody…Welcome to The Old Bailey on day one of a five day trial in the case of  R v Kevin Pieterlag and Johnny ‘Robbers’ Robbers.  Mr Justice Blackcap is presiding….. a few words first about the trial judge.  Educated at Balliol Oxford, by way of Harrow and The Inns of Court School of Law.  A largely undistinguished career dealing with tax and other Chancery matters led to Silk some 20 years after call, a few successful prosecutions for HMRC or as it then was… HM Customs & Excise…  and Blackcap J found himself sitting as a red judge, almost as bemused as many in his Chambers at his leaving party. But there we are…in these dark dark days, with judges being paid as badly as BBC London news readers… it isn’t quite like the old days of Judge Jeffries and Lord Chief Justice Goddard who, they say, used to ejaculate into his trousers when passing the death sentence or ordering the flogging of young men.

I can also tell you that the weather is set fair so we won’t see the embarrassing spectacle of the prosecution doing rain dances here today… unlike in another place – well… Adelaide, if you really want me to be honest, where the Aussies are praying for rain under a withering England prosecution  out there in The Ashes test.

*Charon speaking in a hushed and reverential voice*:  Leading counsel and their juniors are taking their positions…. and I notice that the solicitor for the defence is taking up a position at Silly mid-off…which is rather unusual at this stage in a trial.
And here we go… The judge has arrived….All Rise.…. a Mexican wave  has been started in the stands by a man called @LoveandGarbage ….. the Barmy Army is about to be sworn in and then we are off…  I’m sitting here in the commentator’s box with one of the true greats of criminal prosecution….  Dicky Punter QC….. an Australian lawyer of international reputation whose trademark, when he lost a case, was to say that that even amateurs deserved a break sometimes…..

Punter QC: G’day Charon….. I see that you have your Rioja and Marlboro ready…bring any tinnies?

Charon QC: The opening criminals are taking their position in the box now….. both looking confident and  Kevin Pieterlag will face the first ball from Simply Brilliant QC,  leading seamer for the prosecution

Mr Justice Blackcap: Members of The Barmy Army…. I thought you would like to know that the position  at the start of Day Five of The Ashes is England 620 for 5 and Australia – after their pitiful first innings of 245 all out – has managed to score some runs and they are standing at 238/4.  I shall, of course… *Mr Justice Blackcap beams at the Barmy Army*… keep you fully informed

*The Courtroom is hushed…. Simply Brilliant QC rises and leaning forward, delivers the first question…*
Simply Brilliant QC: So… I put it to you that YOU did it? Yes?

Kevin Pieterlag: Yes, Guvnor… it was a fair cop… I did it… and may god have mercy on my soul….. can I be transported back to my homeland…South Africa?

Charon QC: He’s caught behind, first ball…!! Oh, the first ball of this session. Kevin Pieterlag is caught behind by John Sniveller, the junior,  off the bowling of Simply Brilliant QC and it’s all over. Up goes the judge’s finger…. OUT…. Kevin Pieterlag  is out and he is not even asking for a review.

And in goes Robbers… a regular here at the Old Bailey and one of my favourite opening criminals…….I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him here many times… he always gets sent down the wicket……. but he’s a game old boy and comes back for more every eighteen months or so…. Punters… fancy some lemon cake to give your expression a slightly more citric look…?

Simply Brilliant QC: You’ve been here before haven’t you?

Robbers *Beaming to The Barmy Army*: I have… …. you didn’t get me last time.. and you won’t get me this time… I’m ready….. I know all about your Doosras and googling information……. and by the way…. I had a great lunch with your girlfriend yesterday… she’s HOT….. and she told me that you find it easy to rise to the occasion in court… but this is not so in the bedroom….

Mr Justice Blackcap: The prisoner will confine himself to answering the questions….*Turning to the Barmy Army in the Jury Box*… Members of The Barmy Army…. it is your job to ensure that this man is convicted fairly…. you will ignore unsolicited comments from the dock…amusing though they may be.. and may I take this opportunity to say that I do not want any of you consulting Wisden,  Archbold,  law reports or Google on your iPads…and if any of you go on twitter while this case is in progress you will be deported to Sweden along with Mr Assange when we finally catch him….and you could find yourself on death row in the United States….who knows..? …. anything is possible under the US Espionage Act 1917…some say…   and certainly there are some serious fruitloops over there…. Someone called Mick Huckleberry-Finn seems to think people involved in Wicketleaks should be executed… because anything less would be unkind.

It was at this point that we lost transmission from The Old Bailey.  We believe that the mention of Mr Assange by Mr Justice Blackcap may have triggered a major DDOS attack from the US State Department  or China or even FIFA, to block all further transmission….. so, with regret, we are not able to report further in our quest to see Justice be done….

And…so it remains to be seen…still..whether the televising of trials will be a useful thing or not….

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While I like the idea of Justice being seen to be done etc etc… the fact of the matter is that most court proceedings are lengthy and, at times, astonishingly dull. I can’t see many watching extended televised cases in courts.  I can see some merit in edited highlights and it would be fascinating to see more of justice being done… but it will take a great deal of skill to present it in a watchable way – and, therein, lies the part of the problem – editing.

I’d pay good money, of course, to see barristers trying to jazz up a truly fascinating tax appeal or a Trusts case. Perhaps a dancing dog could be employed as junior counsel?

Adam Wagner of 1 Crown Office Row and an editor of the UK Human Rights blog , writing in Legal Week this week, has a very interesting article.

I’ll leave it to Adam Wagner to do the sensible stuff….worth a read.

Should justice be televised?

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Today… and it was on the Today programme – it is a very easy choice for the ‘morsel’.

James Naughtie on  BBC Radio 4 the Today programme managed to do a ‘classic spoonerism’ when trailing that he was going to be talking to Jeremy Hunt MP

And then…Andrew Marr, managed to repeat it…

Wonderful start to the day.  It may get taken down… I do hope not!

It hasn’t been a good day for Radio 4 – here they are interviewing  person who impersonated a Lib-Dem MP.  I heard the interview.  It was a bit bizarre….

Guardian Source

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