I recently got to sit in at a sentencing at the High Court. It was not an auspicious start. I was running late due to a phone interview running overtime. Then when I stepped outside, I found it was raining, and the downpour of course stopped once we reached the court fifteen minutes later – soaking, bedraggled, with the only dry parts of me being my back (wtf??). My hair was limp, damp and straggly, and I couldn’t see out my waterlogged glasses. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we hadn’t been allowed in, considering our state.
Luckily, there were no metal detectors this time; last week my fork got confiscated at the district court and I couldn’t work out where to retrieve it from afterwards. I ended up going over to the AU campus to eat so I could pinch a plastic fork. Good times.
I think we all know that law in action is nothing like law on TV. It’s certainly nowhere near as exciting and snappy as on Boston Legal. The actual sentencing took nearly an hour. I expected a flowing, succinct speech. Instead, the judge spent most of it flipping through pages and pages of documents, spending approximately as much time referring back to notes as he did in actually speaking. (That coupled with his pace of speech meant it was ridiculously easy to take notes – in long hand even). It was more halting than anything, and it was tempting to tune out. Don’t get me wrong. The judge was extremely articulate and delivered some excellent lines. And I understand the need to refer back through notes, given the vast amount of paperwork that would have gone into that case. It was just somewhat hard to stay engaged through all the page turning and lengthy pauses. Give me TV courtrooms any day.