The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Now That's What I Call Plucky

We heard a fairly simple trial today about some motoring offences involving drink and a bent motor car with a few other odds and ends that I can't mention without getting too close to giving the game away.

The defendant was represented by a barrister and was what lawyers call (often with discreet smacking of the lips) a 'private payer' so the bill for solicitor and counsel was coming out of his own pocket.

Not to put too fine a point on it, his defence case was a crock of..... no, let decorum reign and let me say that it was not too strong. He had admitted enough to the arresting officers to guarantee his conviction before any bench that I can imagine, and just to make certain he had dotted all of the whatsits and crossed all of the doodahs in a taped interview. Nevertheless, Not Guilty was the plea, as is his right, and an attractive young barrister (yes, the attractive is irrelevant, but I am allowed to notice) made the best of a bad job. To make matters worse for the defence the relatively inexperienced Crown prosecutor had to be elsewhere at short notice so a barrister was drafted in from Chambers. As luck would have it the Chambers clerk had already despatched all of his young tyros so we got, thanks to the cab-rank rule, a fifty-ish brief who had obviously got a lot of legal mileage on his clock.

Following her client's instructions the defending counsel put forward his story, that was both implausible and legally hopeless. She had a polite go at the police officers' evidence, but I really started to admire her when her client went into the box and dug himself even deeper into the mire. She kept her composure, and her closing address to the court was properly researched, impeccable as to case law, and delivered with bright-eyed conviction.

Conviction is what her client got too.

I admire her because faced with one of the worst defence scenarios since the Little Big Horn she did a professional job and carried on fighting for her client until the inevitably bitter end. She knew when she first got to her feet that she was on a loser but she gave it her best shot for her client. She had almost certainly advised him to plead guilty and get a bit off his sentence but he wanted to carry on, so carry on she did.

That's what makes the Bar (and criminal defence solicitors) so special in my view.