Tag Archive | Crime

Life at the Bar – Desperate Wives

So what happened to Sharon, the young woman I was there to represent?

The women all exchanged glances but before anyone could speak the door of the family court opened, the usher appeared and Sharon’s case was called on. I pushed the stories I had just heard to the back of my mind and walked into court with my client, leaving the three other women behind. Once in the courtroom I called Sharon to give her account of the incidents which gave rise to the application for an injunction preventing her boyfriend from contacting her. She wasn’t the best of witnesses and I could see that the judge was not impressed. Then cross examination began with the boy friend’s barrister asking Sharon if she wanted to stay at the Hostel or go back with Colin to her flat. Sharon hesitated.  Barrister's Wig

‘Of course I’d like to go back to the flat.’

The Judge interjected, ‘Of course she wants to go back to her own home. That Refuge is disgusting.’

‘Yes of course, your honour. But I am suggesting that the witness wants to go back to the flat with Mr Fenton.’

‘Well say so.’ It was clearly the end of a long day. He turned to Sharon and asked her if she did want to go back to her boyfriend.

Sharon looked round the court room. First at me with a look of desperation on her face and then at Colin’s barrister who was holding a piece of pale lilac notepaper in his hand. I looked away: I knew what was coming.  Sharon had seen the letter as well and was struggling to find an answer.

‘Let me help you,’ said Colin’s barrister smiling, and he handed the piece of paper to the usher and asked her to give it to Sharon.  Sharon looked at it. The barrister paused.

‘Did you write that?’

‘Yes.’

‘Would you like to read it to the court?’

Sharon read out the letter she had written asking Colin to meet her at the shop near the Refuge to talk about her going back with their child, Angelina.

‘You met Colin by arrangement and went back to the flat with him?’

Sharon’s voice was dull ‘Yes.’

‘And when you were there, you had intercourse with him.’

‘Yes.’

I looked up at the Judge and, as I expected, he told me that I did not have any grounds now for the application. I agreed and he turned to Sharon and told her to stop being so silly and return to her flat. Then, with a swift nod, he rose and swept off the bench before anyone could get to their feet.

Once outside the courtroom, the three women wanted to know what had happened. Sharon was crying so I told them she had agreed to give Colin another chance for the sake of the child. ‘That’s right, isn’t it?’  I said. Sharon nodded her head as she wiped away the tears and blew her nose. All three of them looked at her in amazement, turned on their heels and walked away, leaving me with Sharon.

Along the corridor, I could see Colin saying goodbye to his barrister and then he walked towards them. He came up to Sharon and put an arm round her shoulders.

‘Come on, let’s go and get Angie and your things.’ And, without a word to me, the two of them strolled out of the building.

The usher came out of the courtroom and stood watching them for a few moments before turning to I and saying ‘They’re such liars, these people aren’t they.’

I smiled ‘That one was.’ but I wasn’t sure about the confessions I had just heard. I thought then, and still do they were true.

Life at the Bar – Desperate Wives

The second confession

The youngest shifted uneasily in her seat; she was a thin pale woman in her twenties, her long face emphasised by her shoulder length, light brown hair. Her thin white blouse partly unbuttoned, revealing a gold necklace, was tucked into the waistband of a short denim skirt. She had taken off her leather bomber jacket and hung it over the back of her chair even though it was quite chilly.

The older woman returned to her seat, turning it so she could continue to look out of the window at the darkening skies. I pretended I was concentrating on my papers. Some sixth sense told me that I must remain sitting quietly if I wished to hear what this young woman was about to say.  Representing-Justice-Lady-001

The threat to make a complaint to the police by her friend’s husband must have struck a chord with the young woman because she began by saying,    ‘Mine did go to the police but they didn’t believe him. They told him he must have fallen down drunk and that’s how he’d got the cut on his head. I did laugh about it later but …..’ Her voice trailed off, she looked down and took a deep breath before continuing ‘Well he’s a big lad; they just couldn’t believe I could hit him that hard.’ She turned to the older woman. ‘He is a big bloke isn’t he?’ she asked.

‘Yes. You only come up to his armpit. I’m not surprised the police didn’t believe him.’

‘Course he was drunk. He’d gone up town to watch Arsenal; been drinking all day leaving me with the kids. He’d promised to come home straight after the match so I could go to Bingo with my Mum. When he came in he was plastered; wanting his tea. I had a go at him and told him to make his own. He still had his silly supporter’s hat on, a bowler painted in red and white stripes. He was sat there yelling about his tea, telling me what he wouldn’t do to me if I didn’t get him some food.’

I looked at the group of woman round the table. None of them were interested in what  I was doing and I was able to observe the women without distracting them. I thought how little surprise they had shown at the violence being described.  Whilst these thoughts were revolving in my head she saw a small tousled head appear at the corner of the window into the corridor. At first she couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl.

The young woman continued ‘So I picked up the poker and hit him over the head with it from behind. Once I started I just kept hitting until his hat lifted up from his head, sort of popped up, and the blood poured down his face in little streams. He looked at me, his eyes wide open; put his hands up to his face, touching it.’

She demonstrated, putting her hands to her forehead and then her cheeks.  I looked at her and back to the head at the window. Now a face appeared, pressed hard against the pane of glass flattening the features, two small, grubby hands palms facing towards me either side of the face.  I put my hand to my mouth and pressed my lips together to stop from smiling..

I could still hear the young woman.

‘I think he thought that I had poured something over his head. When he looked at his hands and saw that it was blood he made a dive for me but I got out of the way and he fell onto the floor. The hat came off and there was blood everywhere.’

The little boy- it clearly was a boy- moved back a little and, looking straight at me, opened his mouth and stuck his tongue out. I began to laugh and then tried to turn the sound into a cough. Sharon and the artistically dressed woman looked at me and frowned before turning back to listen to their friend.

‘I didn’t know if it was the booze or me hitting him that made him fall over, but I didn’t wait to find out. I grabbed the kids and ran to my mum’s. I wasn’t dressed properly, still had me slippers on. I didn’t dare go back. So, I stayed there and the police came looking for me. They said they’d found him in the street, drunk, with this nasty cut to his head and he’d told them I’d done it.  ‘‘Don’t be silly.’’ I said, ‘‘Look at me I’m only half his size.’’

‘‘Well do you want to go and see him? He’s up at the hospital,’’ they said. ‘‘We’ll take you up there if you want.’’

‘‘No, I think I’ll wait ‘til he’s sobered up a bit.’’

‘‘Might be best.’ they said.’’

Outside in the corridor a middle-aged woman, wearing an usher’s robe, came into my view, grabbed hold of the boy by his arm and pulled him away, mouthing the word ‘Sorry’ as she did so.

The young woman who had been speaking put her hands to her face, covering her eyes, bent her head down towards the table, pushed her fingers through her hair, pulling it back from her face before looking round at the others and smiling tentatively at them.

‘I haven’t been back.’ She added.

To be continued.

Life at the Bar – Desperate Wives

Attempted Murder 1. I started to find the silence uncomfortable when this woman began to talk in a low voice. There was an urgency in the tone that made me want to listen. I turned my attention back to the papers on my lap, pretending to work and hide my interest in the conversation. The woman was talking in a low voice and I could only just hear what she was saying. ‘The doctor gave me antidepressants after I had each of the kids. I had this post natal depression. You know what it’s like?’  She paused and looked round at the others but there was no response to her question, so she continued.   Pills ‘Mind you, it wasn’t really the babies that were the problem. It was him. He was always more violent just after the children were born. He’d wait ‘til I was breastfeeding and then start to hit me round my head. I couldn’t do nothing. Well you can’t do much holding a baby in your arms, can you?’ She didn’t pause for an answer but went on,   ‘I’d just curl up over the little’un to protect him from his dad. The other two would be crying and pulling at him to try and stop him. But it made no difference; he’d just push them away. One year, it was the year Eddie was born, it was coming up to Christmas and I thought I’ve had enough. What I need is a nice quiet Christmas. So what did I do?’ She sat back, took a small, battered tin from her pocket, opened it, used the contents to prepare a thin cigarette which she lit and then inhaled deeply. ‘What did I do? Christmas Eve I got my pills and crushed them into his beer. Well he was too drunk to notice. That’ll keep him quiet I thought. He’ll have such a headache tomorrow he won’t want to get up and me and the kids can enjoy ourselves without him.’ I put my hand up to my mouth. The eldest of the woman looked towards me. I looked back at my papers and drew a question mark in the margin of the brief. That must have reassured her  I was still working, the woman turned her attention back to the speaker who was tapping her left hand gently, but persistently, on the table top. ‘I thought he was about to go to sleep in the chair so I got him upstairs, got his clothes off and rolled him into bed. Well, it was quiet.’ she nodded as if to emphasis her words. ‘He slept all Christmas Day and Boxing Day as well. I thought I’d killed him.’ She took a quick intake of breath, put her cupped hand to her mouth and whispered,  ‘Course, sometimes, I almost wish I had.’ ‘I kept going upstairs to see if he was still breathing. Eventually he came to. He couldn’t believe he’d slept through Christmas Day and Boxing Day. He went on at me until I told him what I’d done. I got a real pasting. He threatened to go to the police about it but he didn’t. For a while he laid off me, but then he started again. That’s it, I thought, I’m leaving.’ When no one spoke, I looked up. The woman who had told the tale caught my eye and then turned towards Sharon before shrugging her shoulders. In the silence a cell door banged shut on the floor beneath. The elder of the three got up and leant against the window ledge, putting her forehead against the cold glass. To be continued

Life at the Bar-Desperate Wives

Not many people have heard three women admit to attempts on their husband’s lives in the course of one afternoon, but this is what happened to me. It all began when I went to a seaside town to appear in the County Court seeking an injunction for a young woman to prevent her partner harassing her. The long, high hall that ran the length of the courthouse was heaving. There were young men waiting to be called: some alone, others in groups or with teenage girls clinging to them. A few children ran around in ignorance of the nature of the building. Dark suited solicitors, carrying large files, moved amongst the crowd, marshalling their clients, and bewigged barristers tried to take last minute instructions above the chatter and the sound of shuffling feet. Barrister's Wig

I threaded my way through the clusters of people until I found my client, Sharon Hurst, a young looking nineteen year old with long, wispy, blonde hair. There were three women with her who, I learnt, were from the Battered Wives Refuge. I needed to go through my instructions with Sharon so we went to look for an empty interview room, leaving the others behind in the hall.

The windows of the conference room looked out over the courtyard where the bare branches of a tree made a crazy paving pattern across the grey, December sky. I didn’t like these rooms: everyone passing from the offices and the robing room could see who was in them and although they could not hear what was said, i felt that the body language was sufficient to give those passing a hint of how well, or otherwise, a conference was proceeding. This one was not going well at all. Sharon was reluctant to confirm the events described in her affidavit. I persisted to ask questions about the allegation that Sharon’s boy friend, Colin Fenton, had been waiting for her, near to the Refuge, and had followed her back there most days for the last week.

‘You say here that he took your baby, Angelina, and ran off with her? You followed but couldn’t keep up so you went round to the flat you shared with him?’ I said.

‘Yes. I didn’t know what else to do.’

‘You went into the flat to get Angelina, but when you tried to leave he locked the door and you couldn’t get out?’

‘That’s right. I hadn’t any keys to the flat in my purse.’

‘How did you get out?’

‘He let me out.’

‘Just like that?’

‘Well, he’d gone on about me coming back so when I said I’d think about it, but I needed a day or two, he let me go.’

‘Anything else happen whilst you were there?’

Sharon looked away, trying to find something else to focus on so that she did not have to look at my face. Eventually she replied, ‘What you suggesting?’

‘I’m not suggesting anything, but you will be asked questions by Colin’s barrister about what happened at your flat.’

There was a pause. Sharon chewed on her lower lip and then said, ‘Nothing happened. Just an argument about me going back.’

I wasn’t sure that Sharon was telling the truth, but I couldn’t take it any further without calling her a liar, so I finished the interview by explaining that I anticipated we would have to wait most of the afternoon before we were called into court. Sharon went to get her three companions and they all returned to the interview room.  They were anxious to give her advice and they were all smoking heavily, so I moved to one corner of the room and began to work on the brief.

As the afternoon wore on and work ceased in all but the closed family court, the place became silent. Daylight faded and, because nobody turned the light on in the room, the five of us were left sitting, waiting in the dim light to be called into court.

I noticed that the conversation of the four women became intermittent and finally ceased.  The silence was almost tangible.  The sound as I turned the pages of the brief was a loud crackle, the click of the lighter they used to light their cigarettes sounded like a tin drum.  The small blue flame and the red glow from the tip of their cigarettes lit part of their faces, throwing the rest into deeper shadow.

I looked at them, curious about their lives.  One of the women was about the same age as me, certainly in her thirties. She was dressed in a style I rather liked, not least because it was so different from the black suits I was compelled to wear.  She looked rather artistic, as if she might be a potter or something similar. Her blue coat was hip length and underneath she wore a floral-print skirt, a white scarf was twisted round her neck. Her hair was a mass of dark curls that looked like they needed combing and her face was small with large dark eyes. On the ring finger of her left hand, instead of a wedding band, she wore a ring with a large green pebble-shaped stone.

I was beginning to find the silence uncomfortable when this woman began to talk in a low voice. There was an urgency in the tone that made me want to listen. I turned  back to the papers on my lap, pretending to work and hiding my interest in the conversation. The woman was talking in a low voice and Anna could only just hear what she was saying.

To be continued.

Who Killed Janet Smith Part 3

As cold cases go they don’t get much more cold than this – permafrost level I’d say, but there are two further pieces of information that have surfaced over the years. The first was the release of documents by the Metropolitan Police in 2001, which revealed how far the Baker’s contacts were involved in the importation of narcotics.Who killed Janet Smith

The second is probably more speculative, as it is all hearsay, but it does appear to fit the rumours which were circulating at the time. In 1986 a resident of University of British Columbia Women’s Club told the author of the book, Ed Starkins, about a her friendship with an Irish nurse who had cared for a Jack Nichol. His father had been Governor General of British Columbia between 1920-1926, and he had hoped to give evidence at one of the many trials, that at the time of Janet Smith’s death he was on a train playing cards. His evidence was thought to be irrelevant and he was not called.

The nurse had said he had told her that he and a young woman called Lucille Parker attended a party on July 25th 1924 at the Baker home. He had got drunk and went to a second floor bathroom to stick his head under the shower in an attempt to sober up. Janet Smith appeared on the landing with a towel for him and at that moment Lucille emerged from one of the bedrooms and saw the two of them. She misinterpreted the scene and went beserk, punching and pushing at Nichols. In the course of this Janet slipped on the wet floor of the bathroom and hit her head on the bathroom spiggot.

Of course, if that was the truth, the offence was one of manslaughter, and the cover up could only to have hidden the party and possibly the use of drugs. Those attending may all have had their own reasons for keeping the events that night a secret.

What is certain is that she met and untimely death which has never been accounted for or explained. We like to think that no matter who the perpetrator or who the victim someone’s death should be fully investigated. Are we right in that belief?

The book I have referred to throughout these posts is called ‘Who Killed Janet Smith?’ by Ed Starkins and is published Anvil Press Publishers of Vancouver.

Who Killed Janet Smith

I have just read a book sent to me by a lawyer relative who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia; the book by Ed Starkins relates the story of an unsolved murder. The book makes compelling reading and is worth describing in these times when human rights are under threat. The book describes how in 1924 a twenty-two year old nursemaid of Scottish descent was found dead in the home of a wealthy family in Vancouver, British Columbia. What followed was an unbelievable catalogue of mistakes and led to numerous conspiracy theories, involving, amongst others, the attorney-general of the provincial state. Who killed Janet Smith

The local police force was informed of the death by a telephone call from F.L. Baker, a member of a prominent Vancouver family who told the officer, James Green, Janet Smith had shot herself. The officer appears to have accepted she had died by her own hand, as did Dr Blackwood who also attended the scene. The young woman’s body was removed by undertakers and, embalmed without an autopsy taking place, although nobody accepted responsibility for that decision.

A coroner’s jury found Janet Smith had committed suicide but a friend of hers, Jennifer Haddowe  was adamant that the young woman would not have taken her own life. She persisted in that belief and was able to get the Council of Scottish Societies to take up the fight. At a second hearing the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of murder. Of course advances in forensic science have made the investigation of crimes less dependent on the oral evidence of witnesses, but the assumption by the police that she had shot herself would have been cast into doubt if the simplest of examinations had been carried out. The lack of a proper post mortem and the delay was a serious blow to the investigation.

Why did the police not conduct a more thorough investigation in the beginning? Were they inhibited by the wealth and status of the Baker family? Today that seems improbable, but it was only 1974 when Lord Lucan was assisted by his friends to escape trial for the murder of his children’s nanny. Did the Vancouver police anticipate the locally prominent and wealthy families closing ranks, and was the victim too unimportant?

As pressure increased on the police to find Janet Smith’s killer, someone in authority decided to take the unusual step of paying a private investigator to kidnap the Baker’s Chinese Houseboy, Wong Foon Sing. He had been the one to discover the body and had, he said, telephoned his employer who had gone to his office, to tell him. Whilst Sing was held he was threatened and tortured to try and force him to make a statement about what had happened to the nursemaid, but he always maintained he knew no more than he had already said at the two inquests. It’s right to say he was never accused of the crime and there was never any suggestion that he had been responsible throughout the inquiry.

Matters got worse, but I’m going to save that for another time. To be continued.

Life at the Bar – A Sad, Sad Case

Over the years, I must have seen hundreds of defendants, but there are very few whose faces I can visualise now. One I can wasn’t even my client. I was sitting in court number 2 at West London Magistrates, waiting for my case to be called on, when a young man probably aged around twenty was guided into court by a police officer. He was quite tall and of a sturdy build; his black hair curled so tightly that his scalp was visible. In profile, his nose was straight without any hint of his African ancestry. His clothes were scruffy; a pale blue shirt hung out of his ripped jeans and his trainers looked as if they were a size too small. Despite it still being early spring he had no jumper and no coat with him.  Barristers Wig

He was before the court for the offence of ‘being in possession of an offensive weapon.’ A police officer got in the witness box and described to the court finding the young male in the recess of a shop door, sitting on the floor clutching to his body a large stick, which the officer produced. The stick looked like a branch of a small tree, a few inches in diameter and rather twisted.

Had he threatened anyone with the stick, the magistrate asked.

‘No,’ said the policeman.

‘Is it adapted in any way, for example, a nail in one end, or sharpened to make it into a weapon?’

‘No,’ said the officer.

‘Did the defendant say anything to show why he had this stick?’

‘When I arrested and cautioned him,’ the policeman held his notebook up and read from it, ‘It’s my only friend.’

Throughout the proceedings, the young man had been totally passive, his eyes looking inward as there was no future to see. His lawyer got to her feet, but the magistrate said she didn’t need to address the bench as he and his colleagues were going to dismiss the charge but not before the probation officer had spoken to the defendant and arrangements had been made for him to go to a suitable hospital.

I doubt he would be treated so well now as there is such a shortage of places for the mentally ill in our hospitals and that young man needed a place where he felt secure and would be treated appropriately.

Life at the Bar – The Rapist from Iran

 

Although I have been in close proximity to quite a number of very violent men I have only been assaulted  twice in the course of my work. The first time was whilst I was still working as a solicitor and had been instructed to represent an Iranian man who was charged with a number of rapes. He was in his late twenties and, when I first met him, was quite charming. Because of the seriousness of the offences I instructed a QC to defend him.

The allegations divided into two groups. The first two were made by the same young woman, who said she had met the defendant in Covent Garden where he had told her he was a student, newly arrived in London and knew no one. She took pity on him and at the end of the evening she invited him to her flat. It was there that he had forced himself upon her on two occasions, despite her resistance. His case was that she was a willing participant in the sexual activity.  My client had left the flat the next morning and despite the police being called immediately they were unable to apprehend him.

The second set of offences was rather similar, but took place a few months later. Again he had met a young woman who was sympathetic to him and invited him back to her flat. What he was unaware off was that she was living with a female partner, who returned to the flat later that night and found the defendant with her lover who was clearly very distressed.  The partner called the police and he was arrested running away from the premises. Fountain Court Middle Temple

We made an application to sever the two sets of allegations and to our surprise the Judge granted it. My client was acquitted of the first group of rapes but was convicted of the second. His defence that the woman had consented was not believed by the jury, not least because her sexual preferences were quite clear. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Immediately after being sentenced he was held at Wormwood Scrubs and soon I began to receive letters from him telling me he wanted to appeal against his conviction. We had already told him he had no grounds to appeal when we saw him in the cells below the Old Bailey, but despite that oral opinion and knowing, as I did, that no appeal was possible, I did obtain a written advice from the silk in the case. I forwarded that to the prisoner and hoped that was the last of it.

A week or two elapsed and then the letters started again, begging me to file grounds of appeal. I ignored them. One day after I had been in court I returned to the office to find amongst the usual list of telephone calls to which I needed to respond, a message from the Probation Officer at the Scrubs. I returned his call and he asked me to come and see my client and explain why he was unable to appeal. I agreed somewhat reluctantly to see him the next time I was at the prison, which I knew was only a matter of a couple of days hence.

Once in the interview room I repeated the opinion of the QC and tried to explain why learned counsel thought the verdict was not appealable, in as simple a language as I could muster. The client became very angry and told me I was nothing more than a whore because I did not cover my legs and my head. I told him I was leaving. By this time, he was screaming abuse at me and as I stood up to leave he lunged across the table at me and grabbed me by one arm. He didn’t get any further, as the prison officers had heard him shouting and they seized hold of him by the scruff of his neck and dragged him away from me.

It was a distressing experience and I needed a stiff drink that evening.

Life at the Bar – The Arsonist

Arson is a frightening offence, smoke and flames can not only cause enormous damage but the risk to lives is always present. Early in my legal career a fire at one of the public houses in Blackpool was particularly frightening.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the fire caused extensive damage to the premises and meant the doors were closed for days in the middle of the holiday season. When the police began to investigate it became obvious that the publican’s son had watched the blaze and taken photographs of the fire appliances. Fire Engine

As the enquiry continued the Sergeant in charge found a scrap book which contained photographs taken at the scene  of other fires in Blackpool, newspaper cuttings about other cases of arson and a broken footplate from a fire engine. The publican’s son was arrested and interviewed under caution, during which, although at first denying setting the fire, he did eventually admit that he had. He was charged and I was instructed to represent him.

When the fire broke out the defendant’s parents were not in the property, but his grandmother was and because of that he was charged with arson with intent to endanger life. The fire was attended by three fire engines and put the lives of a large number of firemen at risk.

The young man, my recollection was that he was in his twenties, had an interesting background. He had left school at sixteen and he wanted to join the fire brigade, but his application was refused. He was turned down again when he made further applications. He became obsessed with  the fire brigade and set the fire at the public house so that he could watch the fire engines turn up and fight the fire.

The case was heard at the Lancaster Crown Court before a High Court Judge. He pleaded guilty and when the sergeant was called to give evidence of the defendant’s previous convictions, he took a very unusual step. When prosecuting counsel indicated he had no more questions for the officer, the detective sergeant turned to the judge and said, ‘My lord, I do want to say that during the course of the investigation I have spent time talking to the defendant’s grandmother; she is not well and I believe if the defendant was sent to prison it would hasten her death.’

The judge listened carefully to what the officer said and the other mitigation put forward by defence counsel. When he passed sentence he explained to the defendant that the sentence for arson with intent to endanger life was a period in prison, but because of the unusual plea made by the policeman on his behalf he would pass a sentence that allowed the defendant to return to his family within a matter of weeks.

Life at the Bar – A question of tactics

When I was still employed as a solicitor, West London Magistrates’ Court was in Southcombe Street  W14; a redbrick building with an impressive entrance in white stone. On the floor, as you entered was a mosaic of the Metropolitan Police crest, a reminder that this had been called a police court when it first opened. The name may have been changed, but the court was still run by police officers. They organised the list of defendants and had an office where they collected the  fines imposed by the magistrates. Solicitors were allowed into the cell area to take instructions from their clients and that also gave access to the small room at the back of a waiting area where the matron dispensed cups of tea for a small sum. It was here that, if you had made friends with the local CID you would be given a brief outline of the evidence against a client. There was no practice of serving statements in cases that were to be heard by the magistrates. Only if the case was being committed to the Crown Court would a lawyer get to see the evidence against the defendant.

West London Magistrates Court

One of the warrant officers, a man known as Jock, was a caricature of a Scotsman, quite tall, balding with a fringe of red hair and a ferocious temper. His role was to run the list for the court. When a defendant arrived at the courthouse, whether on bail or brought by the prison van, they were ticked off on the sheets kept by the warrant officer.  A defendant’s lawyer would, after seeing his client, tell the officer what application he would be making to the Magistrate.  The policeman would then decide the order in which cases would be called, usually depending on the kind of application. Adjournments where there were no applications usually went first, then applications for bail and pleas in mitigation were left to the end.  The solicitors appearing in the case before the magistrate were always keen to get their cases on as soon as possible; there was always more work to be done in the office, or another court to attend.

Jock tended to favour local solicitors when deciding on what order to call cases into court, barristers and out of area solicitors were usually put to the back. However, if for some reason you offended him, your case would be put down the list. It was often difficult to know what you had done to upset him. Not being deferential enough was perhaps the most common offence, but there were others. I soon learnt that the best way of getting my cases on first was to make sure I upset him as early as possible. My cases would go to the bottom of the list, but by the time the hearing began, I could guarantee that other lawyers would also have committed some error and their cases too would be transferred to the bottom  and as they did so, my clients would get nearer the top. Just a question of tactics.