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.

My Photo
Location: Near London, United Kingdom

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Second-hand Story

The year is 1958. A young barrister was delighted to receive his second-ever brief, to represent a motorist accused of driving without due care and attention. Green as he was, our man burned midnight oil over the brief, and appeared on the morn before the bench in a Yorkshire market town. To his chagrin, his best witness was not present. He turned to his instructing solicitor:- "What shall I do?" "Get it adjourned" came the reply. "How?" he riposted. "Just ask!"

He asked the grim-visaged bench for an adjournment, and when challenged, he gave as his reason the fact that his key witness was absent.

The chairman turned to the prosecuting police officer (that's how they used to do it) and said: "The defence have a missing witness. Are all of our (sic) witnesses here?" "Yes sir." "The case must proceed."

The barrister threw all of his considerable advocacy skills into the case, and as he concluded the defence closing statement he sank exhausted to his seat. The bench retired. He was immediately assailed with congratulations and slaps on the back from the other lawyers in court. "Brilliant" "Damn good, young man" "The buggers haven't retired on a case in the last two years. Happen you might win this one".

The bench returned. The chairman took off his spectacles, and fixed his gaze upon the by-now decidedly tensed-up counsel.

"Young man. We were impressed by what you told us, and we do find that there is doubt in this case. But your client will not get the benefit of it. Guilty."

The tag line was that the young barrister went on to join the High Court bench eventually. The moral of the story was that this sort of thing could never happen today. Well, hardly ever, anyway.