Everyone in the Gallery is a Lawyer

Arguments in the matter of Pell v R were completed today in the Court of Appeal here in Melbourne.  As one might expect, they’ve been followed closely by journalists and the public at large.  The court has reserved its decision.  My profoundest sense at this moment, however, is annoyance at the criticisms being leveled against Counsel for the Crown, Mr Chris Boyce SC.

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I have difficulty commenting on Mr Boyce’s performance.  I’m remarkably ignorant when it comes to things I know nothing about.  I’m an occasionally-competent litigation solicitor.  I’ve appeared in any number of procedural applications but have never run a trial.  It’s unthinkable that I’ll ever appear in an appeal.  And for that reason I don’t seel I’m qualified to assess anyone else’s performance.

Not everyone agrees, of course.

I have a major difficulty in matters of public importance: I’m aware of being ignorant when it comes to things I know nothing about.  I’ve certainly had a few dreadful times on my feet in court.  I’ve had a few of my submissions described as “remarkable” or “interesting” by the Bench ( “remarkable” and “interesting” are not words of praise). And on one memorable occasion in the County Court I heard a rambling incoherent voice droning on and then realised it was mine.  I certainly know that it’s no easy job.

You feel like critiquing an expert?  Fair enough.  Go get your law degree, qualify, join the Bar, reach its highest levels and run a couple of hundred appeals and trials and then you might be qualified to be an armchair quarterback.  Until then, you’re just another 130kg asthmatic sitting in the grandstand at the MCG shouting useful advice to professional athletes.