Humour

What Type of Judge Will I Get?

As Troubled Barrister has suggested a couple of other Judges, I thought I would add them in. However, Flasher LJ is a Judge too far, even for this blog.

HH Judge Adjournment
Whilst the Courts’ Administration still defines ‘throughput’ as cases dealt with in a day or a week, this model simply stands alone. He is held up as a shining example of judicial efficiency by the administration – who thus demonstrate that, as every barrister suspects, they know nothing. His Honour’s technique – and his outstanding record at dealing with 25 cases a day (many of them trials) – is simple: he adjourns, everything.
In vain do opposing barristers argue that everything is ready and the Defendant’s lack of a psychiatrist’s report for trial is due only to the fact that such a report was first requested yesterday evening. HH says, ‘Although the request may have been a little late, the evidence is necessary to have a fair trial.’ In vain does the Prosecution point out that the Defendant has a previous report demonstrating that he is as well balanced as Defence Counsel (Prosecuting Counsel by this stage is justifiably hesitant about using himself as an example), and told the police that he felt fine. HH says, ‘In my experience reliance on a previous report is dangerous and representing that there is no problem may well be a symptom’.
HH adjourns things that the parties are ready to deal with. Nothing is ever quite ready for justice to be done. Cases have birthday parties and HH sends a card. Barristers take silk, go on the bench, retire or die and HH simply allows an adjournment for the newly instructed brief to ‘Become thoroughly familar with the papers, as justice requires’.
Disadvantages. Nothing ever happens. Life in this model’s Court is like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’. The apoplexy quotient is correspondingly high. Oddly enough, constant adjournments are exhausting because the sense of ennui that pervades HH’s courtroom produces the same effect as the poppy field in the Wizard of Oz. Skills atrophy. If HH ever does a trial it is such a surprise that barristers end up saying ‘Oh, alright’, when the Defendant says that it was his twin brother wot did it.
Advantages. It’s not exactly testing. HH is usually frightfully nice. You can happily take 2 trials a day because the one in HH Judge Adjournment’s Court is going off. If your solicitor is new or from out of town you can say ‘This Judge is an absolute bastard. If we can get him to adjourn it, it’ll be a brilliant result’. Providing you keep your solicitor out of Court before your case is called on, she’ll think you’re Marshall-Hall (a once famous barrister of who few have now heard).
Suggested Line. ‘It may be that your Honour feels that the interests of justice require a short adjournment.’ Or. ‘I think I have sufficient experience to discern your Honour’s reaction.’

District Judge Mad
This model has decided that he is going to do whatever he wants. He figures that almost no one appeals the DJ, especially on trials. Moreover, constant isolation doing box-work in his room has got him talking to his files, his computer, his pictures and himself. His increasingly bizarre sense of justice gets free reign, whilst he smiles benignly and silently dares the representatives to tell him that he’s a teapot.
Authority is for other people. DJ Mad knows what’s right – and it’s normally that 2+2 = 22. Every decision has a warped logic behind it. One can see the patterns but the conclusion is always something counter intuitive – for example, 2 cars colliding head on in the middle of the road and neither party being to blame.
Procedural applications are slightly better because DJ Mad has sufficient insight to know that someone else may try the action. But still – why not give the parties leave to rely on a surveyor in a clinical negligence action? After all, the Claimant may need to move house. DJ Mad, in short, puts the ‘section’ into ‘discretion’. One day the men in white coats will come and DJ Mad will be trying to make them divorce each other as he is led away.
Disadvantages. As close as litigation gets to Russian roulette. You never know what textbooks or authorities you will need, because in what passes for this model’s mind, parallel connections are to be found everywhere. Talking to the wall may well be more productive. More than a day before this model can so dislocate you from reality that you find the Usher attractive.
Advantages. The single biggest incentive to settle the case. Watching the eyes spin round can be curiously entertaining. Your sense of responsibility can take a sabbatical because, in this Court, nothing matters. You can try out the submission that your roomates have been telling you is bonkers and, if it succeeds, you will know they were right.
Suggested line. ‘Sir, I submit that if you find La-La the most interesting Telleytubby there should be Judgement for the Claimant.’ Or. ‘What’s the similarity between something that you pick up and pour out which is short and stout, and a District Judge?’

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3 thoughts on “What Type of Judge Will I Get?

  1. I have the book. I enjoyed the series as well although it’s a touch romantic.

    I wanted to be a barrister after I’d been the office boy for a firm of solicitors. They gave me loads of responsibility (including a contested DJ hearing back in the days when anyone could appear) but it made it clear to me that working for anyone else would be fatal.

  2. … I once read Marjoribank’s biography of Marshall-Hall. I found him to be an extremely interesting character and tremendously dramatic advocate, but the style of te book becomes a bit tiresome given that its a bit, well, kiss-arse…..!

    There was a repeat of ” Shadow of the Noose ” on BBC Four as part of it’s recent Edwardian Season. It was pretty good!

    I wanted to become a barrister due to a fatal combination of watching ” Crown Court” as a schoolgirl and reading John Mortimer’s “Rumpole” novels.This natrually scuppered privately harboured ambitions to become an Ornithologist…..

  3. There was a DJ who sat for many years in Manchester (DJ Indecisive,let’s call him), who was nororious for adjourning matters and for getting them away fromhim – he would give the parties every excuse and encouragement to argue thathe was for one reason or another not suitable to try the case. His standard form of order was ‘adjourned first available date, not before me’. This became known in Manchester as ‘an Indecisive Order’. He has now been pensioned off to a quieter part of the Circuit, but Northern Circuiteers will know whom I mean.

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