Judicial assistance

Okay, so here’s an admission. I do a lot of car cases. I cross-examine other drivers on their driving abilities and have a go at them for breaching the Highway Code. Pretty average for a common law barrister, you might say. That is, were it not for the fact that I’ve never actually learned to drive. Now in any other line of work this shouldn’t be a problem.

Shipping lawyers don’t have to be sailors and aviation lawyers certainly don’t need a pilot’s licence. The problem is that if a client is ever going to take you seriously in conducting his precious road traffic case, the very least he expects is that you are also a driver and not only feel his pain but understand exactly what he is going on about.

Now don’t get me wrong. This generally isn’t a problem. If I don’t know what a hub cap or a crank shaft is, I simply say ‘For the benefit of the court, could you perhaps enlighten us as to how a particular thing works’. But today the truth was very nearly out.

You see, I was cross-examining a man who had an irritating habit of answering my questions with a question and at one point he turned to me when I was being particularly aggressive and said, ‘Do you drive mate?’ I ignored it and tried to continue. ‘No, mate,’ he continued, obviously smelling blood. ‘You’re on this big high horse and everything. Just tell me this: do you even have a driving licence?’

I was absolutely stumped and looked like a rabbit in the headlights with nowhere to go. As my initial pause turned into what felt like a deafening silence my client started to look at me a little suspiciously. Eventually and in blind panic by this point, I turned to the judge for assistance. He gave me a knowing look before turning sternly to the witness and saying,

‘It’s not for Mr BabyBarista here to be answering the questions and if you continue in this belligerent manner I will have no alternative but to commit you to the cells for contempt of court.’

The judge gave a kindly smile, my opponent smirked, and I lived to fight another day.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister practising at the English Bar, written by barrister and writer Tim Kevan. For more information and to read posts from the last few years visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

October 7, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Uncategorized