Last week I completed a three day mini-pupillage at a set of Chambers in the north of England. I was fortunate to follow one barrister for two and a half of these three days, and get myself involved in a criminal trial. This was an interesting experience as up until then the majority of court cases which I had been involved in were that which took place in the Magistrates courts, and so by its very nature, were cases which involved less serious offences. So one could argue that the view which I had of ‘defendants’ (either rightly or wrongly) was built upon by a mixture of a middle-class, reading of The Daily Telegraph and the opinion that the majority of those hauled up before the courts were there because of their own doing. I can not of course go into detail of the specifics of the case which I was involved in, however the key issue involved a matter of self defence, with the main question being was the force that was used ‘reasonable’ within the circumstances. Along with meeting family members, and prosecuting counsel, I did got to meet the defendant, whom we shall refer to as Mr X. His list of previous convictions were in double, almost triple figures, and someone I would almost certainly not like to meet in a dark alley. However in these convictions Mr X had plead guilty, in this trial he was pleading not guilty. Upon entering the cells I didn’t really know what to expect, having read the files I was surprised to find Mr X calm, relaxed and very receptive to the advice given to him by counsel. This got me thinking. Previously I had always thought that prosecuting in criminal cases would be what I would enjoy, after all based on my previous thoughts Mr X was before the court for his own doing. Even though his past and childhood were less than normal, he would know the right and wrongs of the world. However Mr X, a man, who yes had previous convictions had always raised his hands and admitted his guilt, if I applied my then views, it stands to reason that Mr X is guilty here, and so the trial would have just been a formality. Thankfully our justice system works on the basis of innocent until proven guilty, and that everyone has the right to be defended. I found myself in the cells, not warming to Mr X as such, but realising the importance of innocent until proven guilty. If we didn’t have the criminal justice system that we do, Mr X would be in the position where every crime that was committed had the potential to be blamed on him, purely for his past guilt, in other words he had done something wrong in the past and so must have done something wrong now. I would have thought that under no circumstances would I have wanted to defend, I would have wanted to stand up in front of a court and explain why the jury should convict the Mr X’s of the world. After my mini-pupillage I have come to the conclusion that yes, there are some people in the world that do deserve the weight of the law to land on them, and that if I had to defend such a person I would find it hard to sleep at night. However this is no longer the case. Listening to only one side of the argument may prevent Mr X’s from walking the streets, however I’ve come to the conclusion that if there is one thing that is more dangerous than a guilty man walking, it is that of an innocent man being convicted of a crime he did not commit. So having said that, should I make it to the criminal bar, would I still mind defending? No I would not. Yes I may like the idea of prosecuting more, however should a brief land on me that requires me to defend, it wouldn’t cause me the mental moral arguments that I once had. After my three days I walk away with a new respect for the lawyers that are tasked with defending Mr and Mrs X’s, knowing the foundation of innocent until proven guilty is what is worth defending, not necessarily defending the defendant themselves.
Today my results arrived by post (don’t ask why they weren’t available online or sent by email); naturally because I was waiting for them, they took a long long time to arrive, however no sooner had I sat down to lunch the postman put them through the letter box. Opening the envelope at first I was disappointed, the overall mark I received was 55%, a full 15% over the pass mark, however 5% below the mark I would have been happy with. You recall that I spent hours upon hours in the library, and really did put the effort in to get the 60% I set myself, however after initial opening of the envelope had passed I came to the conclusion that I should be happy with the mark I got. Studying 7 modules of law in one year, was no easy task, and as the statistics show, I did well to make it to the end, let alone pass. I put in as much as I could, so I know although there will have to be some ‘exam post-mortem’ I know that I couldn’t have tried any harder. September I will still do the Bar Professional Training Course, as originally planned, in an attempt to beat the odds to become a barrister. Many will say that its impossible or that I should give up, however thats not my style. Yes its going to be an uphill struggle, in-fact its probably going to be an uphill struggle with an army sergeant screaming down my ear taking place in the pouring rain; however if I don’t try I won’t know. I am fortunate enough to be in the position where I can follow my educational dreams as far as possible, something that would not be possible without my loving parents. The Bar Professional Training Course, whilst ultimately gives you the education to follow through as a barrister, the skills gained on it are transferable into other legal roles and other jobs. So if after the five years I have not managed to secure pupillage I am sure that what I learn can transfer into one of those fields. So although I didn’t get the mark I hoped for, which may make my path to become a lawyer more difficult, I am still 100% on the horse and not getting off any time soon!
The danger with putting the word ‘amazing’ in a title is that there is there is a very real danger that my expeditions have already been raised to an unhealthy level prior to even setting foot into the cinema. Take for example when someone says ‘this is the funniest story ever told’ or ‘it was the most terrifying moment of my life’, usually the story just about raises a smile, and as for being scary, the moment wouldn’t even reduce a 4 month old baby to tears. So where do we stand with Spiderman? The 3D tax was paid, and (believe it or not) I think this is the kind of film that does need to be seen in the third dimension. Out of all the Marvel comics, there are three which I do love; Iron Man, Spider Man and The Fantastic Four. In my humble opinion the first Spider Man was amazing, however the subsequent films were less so. As with most sequels things tend to become a tad predictable, the actors become too comfortable in their roles and as such the characters don’t develop as they should do. With that an the word ‘amazing’ in the title, the bar was set, and I expected a film that would surpass Spider Man 2 and 3. First of all the story, chronologically this film should have been at the beginning, as it had the background as to how Spider Man came into existence, and the story of Peter Parker. His first ‘enemy’ and battle that took place during the 136 minutes was perhaps a little longer than required, but not excessively. There was a good mix of action and humour smattered throughout the film, and although the film did go on a bit, the fact that it was such a good film didn’t mean that this overrun was an issue. The acting was spot on, the main characters being Andrew Garfield who played Peter Parker/Spider Man, and Rhys Ifans as Dr Curt Connors were right on the money. Andrew played the part of a confused teenager who was lost in his new ability and coming to terms with a new love with ease, and during the film you really could empathise with him. As with all the other characters, non of the parts were over (or under) played. Finally special effects. As with most 3D films, there is a tendency to ‘over use’ the special effects. This was not the case. Images were clear, and by using 3D in a manor that could be considered naturally, it really did feel as if you were there, immersed in the action. Overall verdict. I hate to admit it, but it was a good film. The special effects, the story, and the action coupled with joke or two meant that it does perhaps deserve the title of an ‘amazing’ film.
Well just as with death and taxes, there is one thing that can be certain, when you start a holiday, one day it must come to an end, and 6 days ago it did just that. However even though the holiday has come to an end, the photos are still to be edited, and thus far, I can honestly say I do think they are fantastic! I will be uploading them to my flickr stream, and will probably post something on here (if I can remember) to state when they are uploaded, however it may take a few weeks. But until then, I will post one quick photo from the 9/11 Memorial – just to wet your appetite.