Court Out - By Elle Wynne

Chapter One

“Court Rise.”

As I uncross my ankles, raise myself to my feet and take a low bow, I silently thank God that this Judge has a ferocious nicotine habit that gives me time to compose myself before I have to make my speech to the twelve assembled jurors in court.

It’s funny, no matter how many trials I do, I’m always at my most nervous at this point. Imagine trying to talk to a group of people who have no reason to believe or trust a word you say, imagine trying to convince them that your interpretation of the evidence that they have spent days listening to is more rational than that of the other side. It’s not easy.

Further, there is a curious phenomena that I like to call the “nodding dog” syndrome; I’ve found that when you talk forcefully to a group of people they will all nod their heads at you, regardless of whether they agree or not. I suppose it would take a very strong personality to sit, glare at you and either shake their head and metaphorically (or literally) give you the finger. I’m happy to say the latter hasn’t happened to me yet. Yet.

As the twelve in question shuffle out of their narrow seats to their exit, grateful for a break themselves, I glance to my right to see my opponent who gives me a cheeky wink. Robert Morgan is a member of my Chambers, about six years ahead of me in terms of practice and about ten years junior to me in terms of maturity.

If I were to be polite, I could put him under the umbrella of ‘lovable rogue,’ if not, ‘smarmy creep.’ On this occasion, given he has conducted the trial thus far in a fairly neutral way I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“That speech was pretty quick for you,” I tease. “I expect you want an early bath so you can go home to your lovely wife?”

He laughs, “Hardly Chase! Hot date later, although I might grace the old girl with my presence if things don’t go to plan.”

This is classic Robert. I have met his wife Joanna on a handful of occasions when she’s attended social events to support her husband. She is a year younger than him, so at 38 could hardly be described as an ‘old girl.’ This unfortunate term of endearment quite possibly stems from Robert’s interpretation of her fondness of dressing in Laura Ashley circa 1980 coupled with her ever-present obligatory pearls and hairband.

Robert is about the same height as me, stockily built with a paunch acquired from far too many boozy lunches. His dark hair is receding at the front and slightly balding at the back. For a man whose ruddy face bears the weight of his many vices, he’s surprisingly youthful looking, with a wicked glint in his khaki coloured eyes.

Today he is sporting the classic uniform of the typical middle aged male barrister: a navy three piece pinstriped suit over a crisp white shirt finished with shiny black patent leather shoes. The tidy ensemble is marred slightly however by the red wine stains on the bottom of his bands, the long rectangular white tabs that barristers have to wear around their necks.

The last time I saw Joanna she’d popped into Chambers to collect some papers for Robert. As she walked into the clerks room she had made jolly small talk with the various assembled members, none of whom had the heart to tell her that her feckless spouse was sat in the bar next door attempting to get the latest work experience girl drunk.

Robert has always been frank about the state of his relationship; he’s never been shy about broadcasting that he married his doting wife not for love, but for the security of living with someone with a vast personal bank account. I don’t envy the calls that our secretaries have to field from Joanna who is often searching for her errant husband.

The reality is that the long hours Robert spends away from home are more often than not in the company of Messrs Moet and Chandon and whichever female has the misfortune to misinterpret said purchase as an indication of wealth and power. As I look over at him, giggling to himself as he texts something undoubtedly blue to his date for the evening, for the millionth time since joining the Bar I silently count my blessings that I have Sebastian.

“Please don’t implicate me in whatever sordid plans you