Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Saturday, May 17, 2008

# 8. They get guilty people off



The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 have been placed online.



My first appearance at the Old Bailey was for a bail application. Just before I was called into court the police officer in the case said, “Shouldn’t you be wearing a gown?”. This made me very nervous especially when I found out a minute later that he was right. The judge took off his wig and for the rest of the application treated me as if I was a foreign language student. I found this very comforting and soon, I grew in confidence enough to join with the judge in having a go at the police officer, who was appropriately dressed and had made the mistake of appearing competent.


My client was a 45 year old Irishman charged with rape and buggery of his 74 year old landlady. He maintained that they were lovers and she had made these allegations in a fit of drunken, jealous rage. Before you say “yer right”, he was in fact telling the truth. Most of my other clients (at that time) were either persistent criminals or greatly misunderstood by the authorities. He did not even have any previous convictions. I produced letters that she had written to the prison and a few pictures of her in drunken poses. Despite the police officer’s objections, he was granted bail.


A few weeks later, I represented John Murphy (not his real name) at his committal hearing. The charges were dismissed and he walked free. Was it my brilliant cross examination? Well it could have been if she had turned up. Could he have been guilty? Well, he would have been found guilty as consent was no defence to certain sexual acts.There is no smoke without fire or in the face of a serious allegation, it is difficult not to feel that he must have done something wrong.

Also, there can be innocent victims. A local Bank Manager, also called John Murphy, unexpectedly called at my office but my then secretary refused to let him in. He too, despite being a Bank Manager, was innocent.If you are ever wrongly accused of a crime, however guilty you appear, your lawyer is prepared to fight for you like a tiger or in some cases like a foreign language student.


The http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/ harks back to simpler days when "wicked" children were transported rather than being sent to bed early, police evidence was believed and cross examination was not permitted.


Policeman: He stole something.


Judge: Did he by Jove? Transportation.


Juvenile Defendant: Thank you your Lordship.



Policeman: No gown.


Judge: Transportation.


Defendant: Mooloolaba, Queensland?


Judge: No problem.

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