Sometimes I think people forget what the law is for. There are lawyers, I am afraid to say, who think the law is there so they can make a living, a very good one in some cases. Government ministers seem to think it is either a drain on the public purse or a means through which liberal trouble makers can block or upset their policy initiatives. And some newspaper columnists seem to think it’s only for the educated.
Would you rather represent yourself in court or perform your own appendectomy? It sounds like a fairly straightforward question and at first thought, and quite possibly second and third thoughts as well, most of us would plump for representing ourselves in court: there is, arguably, less blood, less pain and less chance of death.
As I write this, the sun is setting over the pool, the palm trees are swaying gently in the breeze and the sound of the sea breaking against the volcanic sandy beaches is wafting gently across the terrace. Well, not quite. I am on holiday, but childcare dictates that most evenings I am watching TV rather than enjoying the balmy evenings (and dodgy resort ‘entertainment’).
I didn’t watch much of ITV’s prime time drama, The Jury, last week. I was bored after the first episode and decided the other four hours required to see it to the end could be better spent. The reviews were mixed. Some reflected my view that it was unimpressive and unrealistic. Others thought it a good yarn with plenty of human interest and twists and turns to keep the viewer intrigued. It probably didn’t matter as far as ratings are concerned as the British public seems to have something of a love affair with crime and courtroom drama.
Thinking about it now, it seems extraordinary that I rushed home on 3 October 1995 to see the live verdict of the OJ Simpson trial on TV. Along with over half of the US population and quite a large percentage of the UK one, I watched as he was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend. I had never even heard of him before he was arrested and starred (I use the term deliberately) in what has been described as the trial of the century. It was all so over the top and showbiz it didn’t even occur to me that we should put TV cameras in English courts.