Do you wanna hear about when I (sort of) met the Secret Barrister? Because it is absolutely excellent. I’m *pretty* sure @BarristerSecret will be cool with this anecdote.
First. We were doing an event together. We needed to rehearse how SB would participate without revealing their identity. So far so good. We had a Plan A that was ridiculous. And a Plan B that was slightly less ridiculous.
Second. We arranged a Zoom call. I had to arrange it so they could join anonymously. “What if I accidentally see you if you turn your camera on?” I worried.

I literally hid around the corner of my own kitchen for “log on”.

We’re a pair of professionals.
Anyway. We thought - and again, we are professionals - that it would be great if SB used a “voice disguiser”.

The options were really quite excellent things like “robot” or “devil”
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a human being suffering electrocution and simultaneously trying to disguise their voice on a zoom call in your kitchen. But it’s not pretty. The dog was terrified.
“HELLO” screached the terrifying robot voice. The dog ran off. I winced. This was not a voice an audience could listen to. “ARE YOU SURE?” asked the robot, as my speakers crackled.
“HELLO” came a helium high-pitched cartoon of a voice that was not altogether serious. “No”. Sigh.
“HELLO” boomed the deepest horror movie voice I’ve *ever* heard. Terrifying. I worried about disturbing the neighbours. “No”.
After a bemusing 15 minutes of written chat - VERY msn messenger circa 1997 - we abandoned ship.
I’ve still got no idea who it is. But I do know they’re game for a laugh and a bit of a legend. 📣

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More from @Joanna__Hardy

3 Nov 20
Conservative MPs as fictional criminal barristers. Hold onto your wigs.
Rishi Sunak QC is a smoothie. He’s read the evidence, even the spreadsheets, he’s tabbed his bundle and his collar is starched. He has 25 mini pupils, 4 juniors and yes, he can help Your Honour with the exact page reference for that.
Boris Johnson QC is widely rumoured to have taken silk as his dad knew someone who knew someone. He will mess it up 90% of the time. He’s forgotten his laptop charger. He’s lost his wig. The judge is rolling her eyes. But, from nowhere, a jury speech that brings the house down.
Read 13 tweets
27 Oct 20
Priti Patel’s spokesperson telling lawyers to “get back to work” is quite the thing. I’ll just whack on my wig and gown and hot foot it down to Blackfriars Crown Court. Oh no, wait, the government sold it as prime real estate so now vulnerable complainants wait longer for trial.
Perhaps I’ll shimmy on over to an East London Crown Court. No. Wait. Not there. Because there is a defendant who has been trying to PLEAD GUILTY there, from custody, for over two months.
Maybe I’ll head out to a West London Crown Court. Eeeesh. Trials in 2022. I’ll give that a swerve.
Read 6 tweets
21 Oct 20
Anyone interested in how your MP might eat at lunchtime - they periodically publish the menus here: parliament.uk/site-informati…
The most recent menus are 2019 - so let’s allow for inflation - but finding any of these dishes for less than a tenner in central London would be a challenge. They sound quite fancy: Image
Tikka Masala for less than four quid. Image
Read 5 tweets
6 Oct 20
Things I do that leave the criminal justice system ‘hamstrung’:

* cross-examine vulnerable children with skill and care, agonising over every word to ensure their fairest evidence is given.

* sit with prisoners who are suicidal and then lie awake at night thinking about them.
* deal with harrowing material every single day - both violent and sexual - with absolutely no support whatsoever for what this might be doing to me.

* cancel family holidays, miss funerals, skip medical appointments because a trial has run over and I prioritise the witnesses.
* represent children as young as 13 in the care system who have no parents and who rely on me - and trust me - to advance their case.

* spend my weekends volunteering to train and teach the next generation of lawyers. For free.
Read 9 tweets
6 Sep 20
I’m glad everyone is looking at CTLs (custody time limits). For me, the real story is not yet being seen. The real story are those people pleading guilty to things they *didn’t do* because waiting for trial will mean spending longer in custody than their sentence would ever be 👇🏼
Imagine a person, let’s call him Person A, is arrested. He is remanded in custody, presumed innocent. He can soon now be held for 238 days in a prison awaiting trial. He says he is not guilty. And he is innocent until a jury says otherwise.
He has a side to the story. It’s a defence if it is or might be true. The jury will hear it. They will decide. He remains innocent until they say he is not. He is waiting for a courtroom. Waiting for justice.
Read 11 tweets
20 Aug 20
Incident: 2018
Trial: 2022

We always say the criminal justice system is about to collapse but I think this is it. I think we’re in the smouldering wreckage pretending this is what justice looks like.

It’s fixable. It needs money, buildings, extra staff and for someone to care.
The experiment of ‘extended hours’ and a handful of criminal Nightingale Courts are not even going to chip the top off the mountain of trials that are waiting in the wings.

The plan should be radical and creative and it should have started months ago.
And if - with refreshed and newly packaged ‘urgency’ - the government plucks from the ashes the notion of restricting jury trials for certain offences when parliament resumes then precisely no one should accept that that urgency couldn’t have been mitigated.
Read 5 tweets

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