28.2.07

Day 105 (week 22): Professionally embarrassed

Given that I will be starting off in a Magistrates Court, the clerks allowed me to go off today and watch a member of Chambers do a case in Thames Magistrates Court. If you thought County Courts were grotty (and most of them are), you should take a look at their criminal law counterparts. Not only are the surroundings less salubrious but the atmosphere, unsurprisingly, has an edge of violence which is tempered only by the large number of police witnesses milling around. Went along with Junior Tenant who was mumbling that he was now above such appearances. Apparently he’s only getting £50 for the morning which bearing in mind he has to pay Chambers’ rent and also his expenses out of that, he’ll probably only be left with around £30. All he had was the name of the client and the time of the hearing. No papers or instructions from his solicitor. Luckily for him, the client (who we’ll call Guilty) wasn’t in any state to realise JuniorTenant’s difficulties. His thin pock-marked face had a feral quality which was only made worse by his twitching.
“I’m innocent right. It weren’t me and that’s an end to it.” He said, swaggering around in a bad impression of Liam Gallagher from ten years ago.
“You’re me brief. You sort it out.”

Rather than asking Guilty what he was up for, JuniorTenant snook off and whispered to the CPS that he had absolutely no idea what this was all about. The CPS barrister was not at all surprised and lent him the witness statements against Guilty. Apparently he tried to walk out of a local shop with three bottles of vodka stuffed under his jumper. Very original. Caught on CCTV and identified by two witnesses as well as the shopkeeper. JuniorTenant returned to Guilty and told him that his advice was that he should indeed plead to that effect.
“No way. I know I done it and you know I done it but that old judge up there, he don’t know nuffin' of the sort. You gonna get me off.”

That gave JuniorTenant his fast ticket back to Chambers. He rather formally said,
“Are you telling me that you want to plead not guilty even though you did it?”
“Yeh. Tha’s right. Tha’s wha' ‘appened last time with me brief. He said he’d sor' it and he did.”
“I see. Well…I’m afraid that in those circumstances I am no longer able to represent you as to do so I would have to mislead the court which I am not allowed to do. I am therefore professionally embarrassed.”
“What yeh goin’ on about? Can’t understand a word you’re sayin'.”
“I can’t represent you any longer?”
“Course yeh can.”

And so the "Can't" "Can" pantomine went on. Guilty had clearly never met a Brief so precious about his professional obligations before and wasn't prepared to cave in now which is just what JuniorTenant both wanted and anticipated as it gave him his way out of the case. Within half an hour, he’d requested an adjournment, nodding and winking at the magistrate as he said,
“I regret to report that I will have to withdraw from the case for reasons which though I am unable to tell you, I am sure you understand.”

Why not just go out and say it? May as well have done. The magistrate nodded and winked back and the CPS representative smirked. A right one we have here, he was clearly thinking. Anyway, suffice it to say that JuniorTenant was safely esconced back in Chambers and away from the grime of the criminal courts by lunchtime.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only just discovered this blog. It's fantastic. Thank you for brightening up a otherwise boring day in the office.

Anonymous said...

just found this blog, it was recommended by someone in chambers and i'll admit it's not only funny, but spot on in almost all respects.

Just one thing though - Worrier and the Discrimination. Firstly, in my experience, and the experience of female friends at the Bar, women / girls in pupillage have to put up with tons of this stuff (and much worse) from older male members of the Bar. It's just the way it is, and perhaps Head of Chambers was right to suggest that if Worrier can't handle it, the Bar may not be the place for her.

However, that's not to say that this behaviour should just be accepted, and pupils (male and female) are in a truly impossible situation. To make a complaint means the end of tenancy chances at the very least (noone likes a troublemaker). On the other hand, if you leave it, don't complain and then aren't taken on - any subsequent complaint can be written off as sour grapes, when it's entirely possible that the complaint is made now that there's nothing to lose.

Secondly, if your blog is serious rather than a tongue-in cheek poke at pupillage competitiveness, and your advice to Worrier was on the basis of writing one of your co-pupils out of the equation, then I hope your karma comes back and bites you on the bum.

another pupil said...

We love you! Observations are all spot on, great to heard another pupil's painful life exposed...

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, reminding me of a lot of the scarier aspects of pupillage ... by the way, I used to prosecute at Thames Mags and it is definitely the arse-end of civilisation.
ps, good luck with getting published, you are much funnier than Caro Fraser.