Solicitors are allowed a wry smile at this marvellous and concise book. It is written by the prominent barrister who wrote the equally entertaining Death of a Circuit: Being Some Account of The Oxford Circuit and How it was Abolished. It is a very good read – perhaps in the privacy of your office and not in the waiting room of a court.
All solicitors experience judges who, while maybe not bad, could not be placed in the category of good. Surprisingly, most of the judges in this book are from the 20th century. It is notable that the senior courts have failed to deal with bad decisions or even admit that some judges were not up to the task. In the past, people were appointed to the bench for political reasons or as ‘jobs for the boys’.
Examples of bad judges include a judge who handed a barrister a note in the absence of the jury but in the presence of the defendant headed ‘the six Ps’, which read ‘Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance’. Charming. Some judges, while bad, are at least fair; they are equally bad to both parties.
In one case the appeal judgment read: ‘It was the judge’s practice to take [on] himself a large part of the conduct of his cases, though… his interventions were not confined to the conduct of only one… of the parties to them. We are of the opinion that the learned judge’s interventions went beyond what was either necessary or desirable.’
Author: Graeme Williams QC
£9.99, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill
We should remember that judges have bad days and sometimes do not know what to do for the best. Most judges in this country are good and try to do the right thing. Although these judges all did bad things, they were not bad in the sense of corrupt, evil or wicked.
The profession should be grateful that things have improved with much better selection and recruitment procedures, appraisals and training – and dare I say it more solicitor judges. Judging stock is much more representative of society. Having said that, this book is a treat.
David Pickup is a partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott