Ruar Juar

It’s just music.
Charlie Parker

Never go with a hippy to a second location.
Jack Donaghy

Three episodes into Generation Kill. See it if you can, it’s outstanding – feels to me like one of the truest TV or film accounts of war I’ve ever seen. Thank-you Deano! Drastically better than BBC2’s disappointing Burn Up, which even Bradley Whitford’s tour-de-force neocon couldn’t rescue. In fact, Whitford’s part is so enticingly written compared to the dramatic-pause obsessed liberals, it almost upsets the intention of the show and makes you long for climate catastrophe. Stop flagging up your message or trying to direct our emotions and just tell the story! That’s what Burns and Simon do for HBO and it’s fucking wonderful.

Interesting that everybody is (finally) talking about The Wire in the UK (see previous blog) because Season 5 has hit the FX Channel, yet nobody is mentioning the team’s newer work, even in passing. 

I am not enjoying Jury Service.

Last week we sent a Nigerian man to prison for a minimum of 10 years, for smuggling cocaine. He was caught in a random check at London City Airport, where they found nearly 3 kilos sewn into his luggage. In his customs interview, speaking in Ebo through an interpreter, he claimed to have been under duress, saying that back in Nigeria two men and a woman had threatened him and his pregnant wife, forcing him to carry the drugs. A likely story! But… that interpreter was bloody rubbish – and the interview was badly transcribed as well – making the whole document hard work. And then the defendant decided (at the last minute, it seemed) not to take the stand and speak under oath in his own defence. 

Meanwhile the prosecution used a forged business email found amongst some genuine ones, along with a few suspicious (though in no way smoking gunnish) texts to make a liar of our defendent. Without knowing anything about what really happened in Nigeria, or what had happened to his wife and family during the year he’d already spent on remand in a UK jail, we convicted.  

Even though the duress claim stank and he probably did it, in retrospect I feel well uncomfortable with the guilty verdict. The defense was poor at clarifying their version of events, so much so that, throughout the trial, I actually assumed they felt they didn’t really need to build a case – with the burden resting on the prosecution to disprove duress.

There were also delays and logistical fuck-ups. We lost half a day’s court time because the agency supplying an interpreter had only booked the woman for the first day and had to bus a replacement down at short notice. At another point we were sent out because a photocopied document had a page out of order. Given what people involved in the court system earn, perhaps their shit should be smoother? With hindsight I’m shocked the prosecution didn’t need to do more and, honestly, I assumed the judge was going to direct us to aquit, until I found myself in the jury room.

Anyway, then I needed an easy ride for the second week but I’ve been dumped onto another stressful case and wasn’t able to slide out the back door.

Last time I made this particular contribution to society, in the late 1990s in Wood Green Crown Court, it was a great experience. The case I sat on then was short, painless and fascinating. My day job agreed to pay me, so I didn’t have to faff around with claim forms and I spent most of the period at home, being told I wasn’t needed, day after day. This spare time was so unexpected (and uncommitted to other stuff), I finished writing and recording the bulk of Beatverse during those two weeks. This time around no music is being made and I think I’ve just lost the Cambridge Folk Festival trip, thanks to the second case. Boo hiss.

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6 responses to “Ruar Juar

  1. I always imagined Jury Duty to be like a John Grisham novel…all lawyer drama and men photographing you from parked cars…no?

  2. The problem with your Nigerian friend’s conviction, as I see it, is that it wasn’t in the police’s interest to investigate the duress he may have been under back in Nigeria. The police would only have been searching for evidence to secure a prosecution, not to clear him.

    A Legal Aid defence solicitor is not going to have the resources to conduct their own international investigation to support their story, so ultimately this part of the facts are unlikely to be heard in the court room. It is simply the prosecution’s story vs the defence story.

    I feel very sorry for the pregnant wife back in Nigeria, who’s child has lost a father.

  3. In fact, it’s much more like a KEVIN Grisham novel. Fortunately, I’m a huge Kevin Grisham fan.

  4. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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