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And the Winner Is...
|The following is an excerpt taken from David Pannick QC annual review in The Times, of those who have excelled, or not, as jurors, judges or advocated in the legal world...|
In the battle for Juror of the Year, a special mention for the jurors in Sydney who caused a criminal trail to be aborted after more than 60 days in court because they were habitually concentrating on Su Doku puzzles when the judge thought that they were taking careful notes. But the winner of the award is the female juror removed from hearing a sexual assault and child abduction trial at Burnley Crown Court after she posted details of the case on Facebook and asked friends to assist her to decide whether the defendant was guilty (I don´t know which way to go so I´m holding a poll).
Least Impressive Performance by an Advocate in Court in 2008 was by Roger Phipps: when asked by the United States of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans why he had not addressed a relevant judgment of the Supreme Court, he replied: ´I try not to read that many cases, Your Honour.´
Most Objectionable Advocate of the Year was James W. Smith, of Athens, Georgia, condemned by Judge David Sweat for his ´heartless´ remarks during a witness deposition. Smith asked the opposing lawyer why he was wearing a pin on his shirt. On being told: ´It means I had a son killed in action serving his country´, Smith replied: ´So that gives you the right to browbeat my client?´.
Deluded Witness of 2008 was Heather Mills. After Mr Justice Bennett rejected her evidence in her divorce case against Paul McCartney (´much of her evidence was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid´), Mills gave a press conference stating that ´obviously the court does not want a litigant in person to do well... so when they write the judgement up, they´re never going to try and make it look in my favour´. Mr Justice Bennett wisely noted in his judgment that: ´The husband, I thought, in a telling comment, said that the wife liked to be the centre of attention.´ McCartney´s solicitor, Fiona Shackleton, was the undisputed winner of the award (not presented every year) for the Lawyer with the Most Published Hairdo, after Mills threw a glass of water at her.
Legal Cartoon of the Year was by Drew Dernavich in The New Yorker: the proud parents of a newborn baby tell friends: ´We´ve decided that it will be better for his later development if we speak to him only in legalese.´
Absurd Lawsuits of the Year included the unsuccessful claim by residents of the island of Lesbos that a Greek court should ban the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women. An employment tribunal in Glasgow dismissed the claim of a schoolteacher that his baldness, which led to ridicule from pupils, was an impairment under the Disability Discrimination Act. Against strong competition, the winner of the award for 2008 was the claim brought in Nebraska by a state senator, Ernie Chambers, against God for causing ´widespread death and destruction´. District Court Judge Marlon Polk dismissed the action because the defendant did not have an address for service of the proceedings. Chambers was pretesting against legislative attempts to prohibit frivolous litigation.
Important Legal Developments from Abroad include the decision of President Robert Mugabe to reward judges in Zimbabwe with the gift of new plasma television sets. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister and a frequent defendant in his country´s courts, suggested that judges needed to have regular mental health checks. In New Zealand, Judge Robert Murfitt ordered a couple to rename the nine year-old daughter they had called ´Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii´.
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Yuill + Kyle
Debt recovery + Credit control Lawyers, Scotland
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