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Andrew Faux, 06 Aug '12

Dark Arts

The pupil barrister watched. He watched the senior barrister he was assigned to for the day. He understood next to nothing of what was going on. The court had broken for lunch (“Very well. I shall rise for the luncheon adjournment” – he had had to stifle a giggle when the judge had come out with that one – but no one else in the room seemed to find the mode of speech unusual).

His temporary master was meant to be teaching him something. (“Follow me. Watch. Keep your gob shut. Learn”). But it was hard to see what. They had gone to the robing room. No sign of a trip out for a meal. He hadn’t even had money pressed on him with instructions for sandwiches. The barrister was chatting amiably about kids and holidays and all sorts of trivia. And why, the pupil wondered, was he doing it? The woman he was talking too was not particularly attractive. She was not particularly intelligent. What she was saying was far from interesting. And worst of all she was the enemy – the prosecutor for today. But his temporary master looked at her as if she was the most exquisite creature he had met in years. He expressed interest in the progress her children were making at school. He compared notes on where to stay near Grasse. They even (yawn) talked about their respective buy to let properties in the city centre. The Pupil was bemused and appalled. Here was ample evidence that everything he had learned in London was true – the Birmingham Bar was too small and too pally. His master was wasting a whole hour of his life doing nothing more than gossip with the barrister who was prosecuting his client. They weren’t even discussing the case and it current stalled state (a police man had not attended and there was no explanation). What a bunch of tossers.

The time dragged on. Eventually his master stopped, looked at his watch and announced “we better get back in”.

The Prosecutor was momentarily startled but she crammed her wig back on and the pair walked back to the court room – the pupil trailing behind.

“Miss Jones, What is the position this afternoon”

“Your Honour, I am afraid that I have been unable to make any further progress towards obtaining the information that you sought before the luncheon adjournment, during the luncheon adjournment, your honour”, the prosecutor simpered, “Perhaps your honour would allow a further short adjournment?”

“Miss Jones, I warned you before the adjournment that I expected progress. This case has gone on for too long. There is no good reason for this officer’s non attendance. You have had plenty of time to find the reason if any reason exists. I can see no reason to prolong the case further. I direct that you proceed with the case now.”

“Your honour, That places me in a difficult position your honour I am simply not able at this juncture Your Honour it is quite…Your Honour”

“ Miss Jones I am well aware of the effect of my direction and I have considered it. You will proceed with what you have or offer no evidence. Now”

“Your Honour leaves me no choice. I formally offer no evidence”.

The Defendant leaves the dock a free man.

The pupil watches…. And learns.

Comments · 5

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  • Angela Watt said...

    Hi Andrew. I really liked this. I knew that it was going to head towards a twist at the end, but I hadn't worked it out. I also liked how you built up the pupil barrister characterisation - the boredom, the lack of learning and then eventually all was revealed.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Andrew Faux said...

    Thanks Angela, I'm really pleased you got it. I once showed some of my writing to a writing "tutor" who said that it assumed too much technical (legal) knowledge on the part of the reader. I tried rewriting with much more explanation but felt the results lacked the rhythm and punch of my earlier efforts.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    I didn't understand what was going on, but I did enjoy reading the story while it lasted. Probably more my fault than yours though :)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Andrew Faux said...

    What was going on? A normal everyday miscarriage of justice. On the day of trial a case is adjourned over lunch to allow the prosecutor to find out where her witness is (a policeman who hasn't turned up). The defence barrister stops her doing anything to chase the witness or get some information by way of explanation for the judge by engaging her in conversation throughout the lunch break. The pupil (trainee barrister) is annoyed by all this chatting. He thinks it is evidence that prosecution and defence barrister are too friendly. He only understands that it is a ploy (and a successful one) when the judge forces the prosecution to give stop prosecuting the case when they still have no explanation for their missing witness after lunch.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Andrew Faux said...

    Jessica, please have a read of my other piece and let me know if that is accessible. It has some technical language (thc levels anyone?) and assumes a lot of knowledge about court room procedure. I think my generation (even non lawyers) recognise the court room and its procedures because TV used to be fairly accurate (Rumpole, Crown Court). More recent court room set dramas are much more fun and pacier but hopeless for accuracy (Judge John deed, Silk). I'm never sure whether I need to put more explanation in. When I've tried I lose the bit I like in my own writing - its stacatto rhythm.

    • Posted 6 years ago