This week started, as do most of my weeks, with the Monday List in Court 1 in the Four Courts. Everyone squeezes into courtroom to hear what they will be doing for the next week.
Members of the public called for jury duty jostle next to black robed barristers, all trying to hear what’s going on at the front of the room. Women from Victim Support stand elbow to elbow with members of the prison service. Members of the press lean forward to catch muffled words along with solicitors, accused men and women and the tipstaffs, there to watch the proceedings for the other judges, all strain to hear as Mr Justice Paul Carney allocates rooms, juries and judges to the cases listed to trial.
Every week the same ritual is played out. The courtroom is filled to a hot packed crush and the cases for trial are dealt with in quick succession. In the space of an hour or so all interested parties find out where they will spend their week. Which courtroom, which trial and which evidence they will spend their days listening to. It’s not the first time I’ve written about the throng and it won’t be the last.
Standing in the over heated crush, my arms pressed into my sides forcing me to hold my notebook under my chin, the pen held at an awkward angle all you can see are the bodies standing near by. In the crowd it’s hard to see and hear outside your immediate vicinity. The room is contracted to a disjointed series of vignettes.
From my habitual spot towards the back of the room, standing up against the radiator my bag stowed on the floor between my feet, I can see the annoyed expression of a woman as her name is called for a jury panel, hear the under breath huff as she pushes her way to the front.
There’s the secret smile as someone ducks their head in passing, their excuse accepted by the judge to allow them to escape jury service until their name comes round again. The mother turning to wipe a tear away after pulling her son back to plant a kiss on his cheek as he is led away to start his trial another day. The shaking of heads and laughter from the public when one of the solicitors objects to one more than their quota of dismissible jurors.
On another day when a trial is under way things happen in a well ordered, expected way. On a Monday morning it feels like organised chaos and there’s a sense that anything can happen. Tomorrow it’s down to work with the start of the trial of Dane Pearse. Till then it’s on with the vignettes and the fragments.