Day 85: 21 July 2017
Saturday, 21 July 2018 11:17

Day six of the trial: The Sherriff explains to me in a whisper that today is set aside for 'legal argument', which doesn’t require the jury to be present. Within two minutes of entering the courtroom, His Honour extends bail for the three accused, until Monday, at 9.30am, and they leave. Now, it’s just the judge, six legal counsel (three for ’em; three against ’em), the Sherriff, and the four of us followers of the case. Naomi, a co-observer, is my go-to person for questions and answers; she’s a law graduate and is understudying defence counsel No.3. Her two friends are first-year law students, who’ve been coming to the trial each day, well, every day that I’ve been here, at any rate. Bear with me here, but it seems to me that today’s legal argument, on which His Honour must rule, is whether or not the setting-up of a particular roadside breathalyzer test unit – purposely to facilitate a search for drugs in just one local vehicle – was a legitimate use of police powers, or if it was a ruse and/or a sham (His Honour’s words). And, whether, as a consequence of the subsequent search of the car for drugs, which happened, the findings, the result of the search, the evidence, will be allowed by His Honour as admissible in the case. I’m learning all of this on the run, and I find it fascinating to watch defence counsel No.2 cite precedence, but then admit defeat on the point he’s trying to win the judge over. A lengthy pause ensues, during which the barrister in question seems to ponder where to go next. I have huge respect for His Honour. He’s a terribly clever cookie, and has the ability to sum-up, speak, rule, interpret things with an incredible degree of accuracy and succinctness, but also with simplicity. This is very much His Honour’s courtroom, and while he doesn’t tolerate any wayward behaviour (the other day, he directed a witness to stop talking!), he also shows unending patience. And yet if counsel from either side stuffs-up, he’s quick to pounce. It boils down to whether what took place on the roadside was a ruse, or a sham, or both.