Back in the late 70s – or maybe early 80s – I was called to do jury service at the Old Bailey, no less. The case concerned an altercation at a London ‘Blues’ party – so nothing too grisly. The defendants and witnesses were almost all black, the jury was almost all white. The whole experience was a a valuable insight into other people’s lives: the witnesses and my fellow jurors were nearly all from backgrounds quite unlike my own. Also it was fascinating to see the way our legal system actually worked at the coalface.
A barrister representing one of the three defendants made a deep impression on me. His arguments cut straight to the crux of the case: that we could only reasonably convict his client if we believed the testimony of one particularly flaky witness whom everyone referred to as Brooksy. In cross-examination he forensically picked through and shredded the inconsistencies in the man’s testimony, and sat down with a cuert “no further questions” after extracting one final, blatantly obvious lie from the witness. “It’s Brooksy or nothing” he stressed in his closing speech to the jury. His client was acquitted – the other two were found guilty.
That barrister was Rudy Narayan who went on to become famous as an anti-racist campaigner, and to found the Society Of Black Lawyers. Tragically, according to Wikipedia, alcohol subsequently deprived him of his livelihood and, eventually, his life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Narayan