Free Newsletter sign-up

 

Justinian's news stories

Slaters sliced ... Pulling up the anchor at Slater & Gordon ... Where are the silken crime briefs? ... Bulletin from The Map ... Language of the law ... Human right to use the court's bathroom ... Theodora reports ... Read more ... 


Search Justinian
Justinian Columnists

Hypocrite alert ... Young Christian sacked by employer because she was a NO voter ... SSM ... Andrew Bolt, never the sharpest tool in the shed, makes a mess of his free speech credentials ... Subeta Vimalarajah on inconsistent anti-discrimination laws ... Read more ... 


This form does not yet contain any fields.

    "[Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests] volunteered that they felt at peace with themselves after being listened to by Peter O'Callaghan. As Commissioner, Peter achieved a unique thing – in [Václav] Havel's words he helped countless people 'orient their spirit' and gave them the certainty that their lives made sense Peter gave them hope just as it is described by Havel."

    Former High Court judge Susan Crennan at the unveiling of the portrait of Melbourne barrister Peter O'Callagan QC who ran Archbishop Pell's Melbourne Response to sexual abuse by priests. The Royal Commission reported that he failed to report criminal offences to the police. September 26, 2017 ... Read more ... 


    Justinian Featurettes

    Anonymous campaign against Barry Dangerous ... Restlessness among the senior prefects of the NSW Law Soc ... New junior vice sworn-in ... Councillors stirring against senior vice with strange memo in circulation ... Read more ... 


    Justinian's archive

    Whitelocke on Lawmanship ... Beguiling pastiche of barristerial posturing ... The importance of looking the part ... The Velvet Salamander transforms into the Silver Canetoad ... James Hutton reviews Bullstrode Whitelocke’s essential text for advocates ... From Justinian's archive, July 13, 2010 ... Read more ... 


     

    « Not so wonderful Copenhagen | Main | Black is the new black »
    Sunday
    Apr302017

    Outwitted

     

    Barely Legal hallucinates about the Witness Examination Competition ... Three rounds in a haze of Codeine ... The triumph of the inquisitorial learning process ... Winning, losing - who knows 

    IT had never occurred to me to be grateful for my wisdom tooth extraction until I participated in the Witness Examination Competition. There I was, lying in bed at 4am and feverishly Googling grad student paranoiac fare like migraines permanent? and how little sleep until you die, when I suddenly remembered my stash of leftover Codeine from the operation. Finally, I could sleep.

    Whoever tells you law school isn't as competitive as you think it will be is either a liar, a stoner, or the Dean.

    When brutal grade scaling and waiting to see whose pre-law social life is first to shrivel up and die doesn't feel sufficiently dire, law students can pit themselves against each other in intra-school competitions. Mooting, client interviews, negotiations, Chinese negotiations, tax rorts, witness exams.

    For the uninitiated, witness examination is the fun one: no extracurricular research and a risk-free opportunity for some hammy courtroom pontificating. So at the start of semester my friend and I picked a punny team name, cued up all our hazy memories of closing statements on Boston Legal and contemplated, but did not actually iron out, our business shirts. We were ready.

    The Process

    Forty-eight hours before the first round we received the "case": a real provision from the Crimes Act and two witness statements - one for the prosecution and one for the defence. I was acting as the defence witness Gazza, the white trash wannabe thespian of my dreams.

    We developed a case theory, wrote opening and closing statements, scripted our examination-in-chief, and developed lines of questioning for the cross-exam - and all without having actually studied a lick of Evidence or Criminal Law. But that was a problem best left to the "judges", a troop of actual real life barristers who had passed the bar, somehow.

    What could go wrong?

    Round 1

    That night we entered the "courtroom", a second level classroom, to discover a fellow student in jeans and a T-shirt sitting alone behind a desk.

    "Hi," he greeted. "I'm your judge!"

    No, you're not, I wanted to say. You're a baby.

    But I kept my gob shut like a good witness and when all was said and done nodded meekly, even when our courtroom manner was criticised and he told us we'd plain old misread the legislation.

    Also, we lost.

    There must be some mistake. 4am rolled around and I reached for the Codeine. We were so good. Like, relatively speaking.

    We really weren't, but thanks to the round robin system, we got another go at it.

    Round 2

    The case was a doozy. An old hippie lady accused of digging-up her husband's corpse and gyrating atop it. My partner and I made what was perhaps the unwise decision of preparing our necrophilia-laden case theory in a local cafe full of mums and impressionable children.

    Thankfully, this round's judge couldn't have been nicer. At one point he asked if the prosecution wished to object.

    "Yes. Leading?"

    "Try again."

    "Opinion?"

    "And again."

    "Hearsay?"

    "Never mind."

    Somehow, miraculously, we won.

    Round 3

    Things got off to a rocky start when we arrived at the competition office at the same time as that evening's judge. "How are you?" my partner inquired politely.

    "I don't know," our judge replied, evidently cognisant of the need to maintain an appearance of impartiality At All Times. "You tell me."

    He was also on the cusp of judicial statutory senility. Not a problem, except I was playing an 86-year-old nursing home resident, and as such had decided to wear a purple granny cardie.

    But it wasn't my hackneyed old lady impersonation that did us in.

    "I believe the defence may still wish to cross-examine you," he said, deceptively mild, when I unthinkingly left the stand directly after my partner's examination-in-chief. Oops.

    We lost "by the slimmest of margins," though knowing this was honestly more salt than salve. At least the most memorable criticism of the night had been directed at the opposing counsel, who acknowledged rulings on objections with "yep, orright".

    Oh well, we told ourselves. There's always next year. This sentiment made me wonder if the competition might not eventually give me cause to wear my pirate costume? Or a wig?

    Thoughts like these probably mean I've taken away the wrong lessons from the whole experience. Then again, we were soundly trounced in Round 3, and that night I fell asleep without recourse to prescription analgesia.

    Feels like winning to me.

     

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
    Member Account Required
    You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting.