Friday, March 23, 2007


My experienced and trusted legal adviser was guiding me through a busy list today, when he looked up at a defendant who had just been brought into the secure dock, glanced at his papers, and appeared to lose the power of speech. He handed the file to the defence brief, then to the prosecutor, each of whom glanced at it, looked down and tried to avoid my gaze. "Well?" was my question. With an effort of will the lawyers got the case going, and we dealt with the regular customer who faced us on the customary drink-related charge.
Once he had gone, I had to ask. "Come on then, what was all that?" Without a word the clerk handed up the charge sheet that had been completed in the police station. It was in standard format, except that in the biographical details section the custody officer had completed the box headed 'Occupation' with a single word:


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