Getting Thrown Out of Court

By , August 19, 2010 12:11 pm

by Kerry Fitz-Gerald

I was recently lucky enough to be in England visiting my husband’s family. Before heading south-west to see Granny, we spent a few days in London and while there, decided to go see the Inns of Court. These professional associations have existed for many centuries and are housed in a series of lovely buildings in Central London. The buildings, organized around various courtyards and gardens, include offices as well as affiliated churches or chapels. I found it wonderful to meander along and imagine how different practice would be in such a historic context. The kids–4 teenagers including my two boys plus my niece and nephew–were polite enough about the trip, but clearly found the buildings themselves to be a bit boring. In an attempt to make things more interesting, we headed into Royal Courts of Justice and were immediately treated to the vision of a young barrister, complete with robe and wig, conducting an animated conversation over his cell phone.We wandered briefly, then went upstairs to peer through the windows into the courtrooms. As none of the kids had ever been into a courtroom, I suggested that we step inside to admire the room and to listen to the proceedings. The kids weren’t sure this was allowed, but I assured them that all courts are open to the public and that we would be welcome to enter. So, after a few admonitions about respectful behavior, we crept carefully through the beautiful carved wood doors and into the gallery seats. Alas, not two minutes later, the bailiff came round to where we were seated and asked us to leave. Turns out that we had chosen a criminal court (the judge was denying an appeal asking for a sentence reduction) and that in the UK, children under the age of 14 are not allowed to observe criminal proceedings. The kids were, as only teenagers could be, mortified that I had steered them so wrong, but I assured them it’s pretty cool to be able to say they’ve been thrown out of court by a guy in a long gray wig and red robe.

One Response to “Getting Thrown Out of Court”

  1. Crystal says:

    What a great anecdote Kerry. Thanks for a grin to start the day!

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