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, August 16, 2008

# 31. They will represent anyone

THE COPPER WITH THE GOLDEN CHOPPER

WARNING: This case has sexually explicit references. If such references distress you then stop here. However, if you are prepared to put up with the sordid in the pursuit of legal knowledge, read on.

If people are accused of a crime, the obvious question to ask is, “Did they do it?”except, of course, for judges. The obvious question for a judge to ask is, “Can the prosecution prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt?” If not, the judge will let you go whether you did it or not. This is an important legal distinction, especially for criminals.

As a lawyer in Hong Kong I acted for a lady, who was either the Madam of a brothel or sadly and repeatedly let down by the behaviour of her female employees.

What goes on in Chinese brothels? Here’s what the Prosecution said happened. The gentleman is shown into a cubicle with a curtain at the doorway by the Madam. There he sits in a barbers chair fully clothed facing the wall. A lady comes in and massages him. Both remain fully clothed. At the end of 30 minutes or longer she conducts a procedure which the Chinese call “flying the aeroplane”i.e. masturbation. Some of you will say that this is not a brothel at all but a massage parlour. Whatever! Anyway you get the idea.

In this case my client’s customer turned out to be an undercover Chinese police officer. There followed a raid where my client was arrested and charged with being a Madam.
The question that the Kowloon Magistrate had to decide was not, “Did she do it?” but could the Prosecution prove it.

Imagine you are a Hong Kong policeman. You have arrested the Madam but you cannot prove that she knew what was going on. Do you (a) let her cheat justice or (b) invent the Madam delivering a toilet roll into the cubicle at the crucial moment; giving her a bird’s eye view?

In cross examination the undercover policeman maintained that he did stand to attention (as it were) but it was in the course of duty and at no time did he become excited sexually or otherwise. At the crucial moment, demonstrating dedication and complete professionalism, he was still able to clearly identify my client’s fleeting appearance in the cubicle clutching a toilet roll.

I didn’t call my client to give evidence and the Magistrate dismissed the case as he did not believe the policeman.

Was the policeman lying? Unless a charge could be proven beyond reasonable doubt once the defendant is acquitted, lawyers tend not to dwell on it.

There were certain parts of the policeman’s evidence which strained credibility. Is a Chinese policeman’s training such that he can maintain a dead pan, inscrutable Confucian expression during take off and landing? Unlikely but impressive if true. Have Chinese brothels developed a covert “Just in time” delivery system for toilet rolls? Do Madams disturb their clientele by leaping into cubicles clutching toilet rolls during mid flight? Answer: Not if they want any repeat business.

In the past many policemen neatly ended their evidence with the defendant admitting the crime. This practice known as “verballing”went out of style as juries and judges stopped believing this type of police evidence. Now some policeman may resort to visual aids e.g. toilet rolls to achieve a similar result. The point to be aware of is some policemen (a minority) may decide to add to the evidence against you to ensure your conviction. Not out of malice but just to tie up a few loose ends.

Therefore if you are arrested you should stay stumm and call a lawyer as soon as possible.

Victims of crime should not suppose that just because a defendant did it that he will be convicted. Evidence should be gathered and preserved however obvious the crime.
So the alleged Madam got off and the policeman was not tried for perverting the course of justice.

But the unsung hero here is the tax payer for funding all this. As one relieved Hong Kong taxpayer commented “And I thought they had been wasting my money all these years”.

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