I write this on the 8 January 2018, having started a 5 day trial on the 4 December 2017. Our jury are now down to 10, 2 having given up the will to live. No, seriously, hospital and holiday commitments mean we have lost 2 of the original 12 good men women and true.
It has been and is a continuing matter of fascination, and in my humble opinion, a total honour to be part of a trial in the Crown Court. So long as you are not the accused.
As a callow law graduate back in the day (1985) I did not think, when I saw the tall (always tall) public school boys (usually male) who knew from day one, that their futures belonged in treading the boards of the Crown Courts in England and Wales, I would be one of them. (How did I get here?)
Here I am. Hello.
And here you the Jury are. The young blond haired woman making notes and maintaining concentration. The prison officer at the back looking very very bored, the retired policeman chewing the arm of his specs, whilst the shaven headed bloke looks the Judge in the eye.
The others blink occasionally. I note one gentleman clutch his back, every time the jury are asked to retire, as we, the elegant masters of the court, enjoy our lengthy legal natterings.
This is a privilege, as it all takes place under the wise, impeccable manners of our Judge. I won’t name her. But, it is one of the treats of the job to be surrounded and working with and against very very bright people.
Our prosecutor is calm and able. It is a big responsibility to represent the Crown, The CPS, the State, plus he has to bring the case. My job is to defend only one of the three Defendants.
I am biting my lip not to ask the cold Barrister, “where you can go for an “empathy bypass.” It would not be understood. The offer from the CPS, so reasonable for my lad, was swatted back, and that’s part of the reason we are here, in week 4. Week 7 for the jury.
My other colleague is in court, pale but telling excellent jokes, following his stroke, in court. Causing the trial to be part heard, adjourned to the new year
And here we are. The cost, so you know, of running a Crown Court, the oak panelled room in which we sit, listening to the stenographer and the judge, a mere £10,000 per hour.
I consider the cost, less lawyers fees of this trial to be £960,000. And continuing as we prepare for sentence.
The case is closed following the Judges summing up. I thought you’d want at least a day to deliberate. I didn’t expect you back in 90 minutes. Was the Defence so poor? Or the prosecution so weak?
This system is not good enough. It’s 350 years old and feels it.