On top of Old Bailey: Part one

Last week we spent a couple of rainy afternoons perched in the public gallery of Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court. A pile of gloomy late Victorian masonry, it was built on the auspicious site of Newgate Prison, the scene of hundreds of public hangings throughout the 19th Century. Old Bailey is now surrounded by brand new upscale office buildings and sits sourly mumbling to itself about the good old days.

We entered through a small door with all the standard courthouse signs – no cameras, no tape recorders, no alcoholic beverages – and after being thoroughly searched, climbed a long winding staircase to the public gallery from which we had a birds-eye view of a trial in progress.

We hadn’t seen such an atmosphere of solemn ritual since we were inducted into the Brownies. The prosecutor and defense attorney sat together on one side of the courtroom, bowing and addressing the judge with breathless adoration. The jury box was on the other side of the courtroom, fitted with computer monitors. Many yards away, on a raised, enclosed platform, sat the defendant. It is said that this arrangement is to emphasize the contest between the accused and the Court.

We were unobtrusively scribbling away in our notebook when we suddenly caught sight of a bewigged person down in the courtroom glaring up at us like a furious sheep and making throat-cutting gestures. A moment later, a hefty guard came up from behind us and threatened to call the police if we didn’t cease and desist taking notes. We feebly protested that this wasn’t among the list of prohibitions posted at the door, but discretion being the better part of valor, we gave in to brute force. We felt right at home. It was just like the Bronx.

(to be continued)

About Appellate Squawk

A satirical blog for criminal defense lawyers and their friends who won't give up without a squawk.
This entry was posted in Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to On top of Old Bailey: Part one

  1. Pingback: Breaking news: King John signs Magna Carta | appellatesquawk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.