Thursday, June 02, 2005
As I sat in Court the other day I exchanged legal urban myths with a colleague, the best one that I was told goes something like this: Counsel for the Defendant is giving a closing speech to the jury at the end of a murder trial where no dead body has been found. Defence Counsel rambles on and then says to the jury I have been stalling for time as any minute now the murdered person will walk through the entrance to the Court alive and well. The members of the jury look around to the door, the Judge looks over and even Prosecution Counsel looks over but no one appears. Defence Counsel continues his closing speech commenting that if the jury were unsure of the Defendant's guilt then they should not convict him, and if they had looked over to the door expecting the murdered person to walk in they should acquit the Defendant. The jury eventually retires and they come back with a verdict convicting the Defendant. After the trial Defence Counsel is in the Judge's chambers and explains that he was surprised by the jury's verdict because looking at the door suggested they had some doubt about the evidence and seemed to entertain the idea that the Defendant had not killed the person as there was no body, and that the murdered person may have walked in to Court. The Judge then states that he too had some doubt, but the Defendant had not bothered to look so if he did not expect the murdered person to walk in why should anyone else?