Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Outside the Court of Appeal


black black black black black
black black sun black black
black black black black black

That's a concrete poem I read in a student magazine when concrete poetry was slipping out of fashion.

Words? Pictures? They support each other. But in court it's a criminal offence to draw (the Supreme Court is the one exception).

Leon Glenister of Hardwicke chambers is having his first day in the Court of Appeal. Before kick-off I do a rapid sketch in the corridor during a hasty conference.

Inside the courtroom, I wonder if I could use photographs from Spotlight to illustrate what's going on. On the bench we have Nigel Hawthorne, Joanna Lumley as Purdey, Siân Phillips. The nearest court official is Maxine Peake with her hair up.

The case is Fernandes v Watson and Others. The concept of 'good reason' is being discussed. Dean Underwood, Leon's leader, argues that reason for failing to attend court can range from the copper-bottomed one of slipping on a patch of ice and ending up in hospital to the barely acceptable. A judge challenges the copper-bottoming: the person might have gone out wearing inadequate footwear.

Is there any good reason for being forbidden to draw people (leaving aside the vulnerable) in court? In the steps of the master? I once proposed to illustrate a law firm's history with this engraving by Hogarth. The senior partner was aghast: 'We mustn't offend the bench!' That was in 1996.

I take the drawing of Leon to his chambers and ask the receptionist if it reminds her of anyone.
She looks blank.
'No.'

green lamp judge judge green lamp judge green lamp
usher green lamp
barrister barrister
appellant

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