Monday, 1 June 2015

A tourist in the Supreme Court of Norway/Norges Høyesterett

A discreet tip-tapping like a mouse behind the wainscot, then the justices file in. In London an usher would holler to disturb our reverie, but this is low-key, egalitarian Norway, the country ranked top in the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. 

I'm here as a non-Norwegian-speaking tourist. There are just a few observers - mainly students, I think - composing a curtain of blonde. Five justices, the normal number here although some appeals are heard by more. Two advocates. A soothing narrative style.

No legal teams. Robes all round. No wigs. Sparse court staff. No back wall of judicial assistants. No microphones. No Apple logos.

There is no Latin, but plenty of English is being quoted in A mot Den offentlige påtalemyndighet. Sounds like - not sure - the Antarctic Treaty. The case examines a judgment regarding a crime against the Antarctic environment. The French appear to be involved.

In London we are mollycoddled with informative case hand-outs, including a seating plan for the bench, but I have nothing to go on here. 

Advocate alone
There are a few five-minute breaks built in to proceedings. At one point, the only person left in the courtroom is the advocate who has been on his feet, full of adrenaline, pacing, wanting to press on.

After the hearing he is photographed and interviewed in the courtroom by a journalist. This would not happen at home: that's what the pavement is for.

Advocate being photographed

The way out of the courtroom takes you through a smaller room with a wash-basin in it. I am struck by this intrusion of the personal. You could enact some Ibsenesque renunciation or off-stage suicide here.
I wander upstairs, past a kitchenette, to a civil case. It concerns a difference of opinion between the government and a psychologist about official payments and beyond that I am lost. 

I was in Oslo for my exhibition (blog post here) at the gallery called VI, VII and pronounced sixes and sevens (Tordenskiolds gate 12, entrance in Otto Sverdrups gate) until 28 June. Please check online for opening times.

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