"Therefore sages and intelligent princes are what they are, not because they are able to go to the bottom of all things, but because they understand what is essential in all things" - The Book of Lord Shang, A Classic of the Chinese Law School.
|Judge Christopher Prince, Resident Judge of Durham Crown Court who presided over our case.|
To my mind, the only essential branches of knowledge and fields of occupation are Agriculture and War; all the others are just appendages - most of them inessential - if you press me on that question. Imagine, if you will, the state of nature; where men have no assemblies for the making of laws, nor any established legal codes, but live in hollow caverns in the mountain heights, where each man is lawgiver to his own children and women, and nobody has the slightest interest in what his neighbours decide. In this kind of setting, what is luxury and what is essential is easy to discern: whoever is proficient in agriculture (physical sustenance) and war (physical security) will survive. Others - lawyers and doctors? Not so much!
We have already agreed, above, that some branches of knowledge and activities are essential to survival, while the others are just adjuncts that enhance the lived experience. Some of these adjuncts have furnished themselves with the same appearance as life's necessaries, but the truth of the matter is that they are not. In times of extreme emergency, these impostors will be exposed.
Having cleared any confusion that may easily arise among people who are now in the habit of claiming they couldn't survive without their iPhone 5, let's now list the more important appendages to humanity's lived experience. A task that is easier said than done.
|The details of the case the author took part in.|
In trying to list our hierarchy of appendages to life's essentials, we come up against the same problem Aristotle ran into while trying to define happiness. In the end, Aristotle decided happiness is many different things at different times even to the same individual: food when hungry, health when sick, knowledge when he/she encounters someone more knowledgeable than them and shelter when homeless. So it is with our current subject matter: the importance of these appendages then depend on the situation an individual finds him/herself in.
|The author arriving at Durham Crown Court for R. v Christopher King.|
My situation demands that I put law, medicine, architecture and engineering as the most important appendages to agriculture and war. There is, for instance, a dawning on my part, that brute force can only take you so far, but it doesn't guarantee your security - that's where law would come in.
|A mixture of the defence, prosecution, witnesses and jurors outside Durham Crown Court after all closing arguments had been made.|
My current preparations for my chosen field in later life has thrown me State-building as a subject to dissect and understand. The recurrent theme in state-building discussions is that you have to have a holistic approach to the components that make a functional state. This is not hard to fathom if you look closely at what will ensure from an inconsistent approach. Should you attempt justice delivery by having a perfect police force but which is encumbered, at every turn, by a corrupt judiciary and a non-existent prison system: it would be like trying to fill with water, a bucket that has a hole in it.
|The finest jury to ever hear a case in the UK|
So the issues for me are clear; there are some important points of intersection between the necessaries of life and their appendages. An understanding of these intersection points does enhance the lived experience. While events still allow me, I have therefore thought about the intersection between law and life, and decided that this deserves, as it were, a closer look.
|A full 1 hour 30 minutes of disagreeing on who was right; defence or prosecution.|
“Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile" - Hippocrates.
Indeed, "life is short, the art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment dangerous, judgement difficult," sums up the first difficulty in attempting any undertaking in life. Time and events do not wait for you to attain mastery of your subject. This is why sometimes we say events overtook planning. But if you cannot master even one art in a lifetime, how are you to achieve your ends?
|Hatfield College MCR/JCR Dining Room|
It is from understanding that you do not have the luxury to master all the fields of human endeavour that the Lord Shang quote that opened this article becomes instructive. Just understand the essential ones, and the essence of those other fields that closely support them. How then to better understand the essence of something, than by taking part in one of its integral components? To that end I participated in a trial arranged by my college here:
|Juror 9 in R. v Christopher King 26.02.2014 Durham Crown Court.|
Hatfield College Mock Trial at Durham Crown Court:
In seeking to understand the workings of the justice system I took part in the Annual Hatfield Mock Trial at Durham Crown Court. This takes place in an actual courtroom with an actual sitting judge. Every other participant is a Hatfield College member, staff or students, who will have been coached for their roles, prior to the court session, by real life barristers and other court officials. Participating in this trial, I want to think, has furnished me with an understanding of what is essential in the justice delivery system. I will only be sure whether it has, later on in life, when I come across the same situations and remain unfazed because I know the parameters and likely manifestations of such a phenomenon.
|Various participants after the trial|
|The author, still in character as Juror 9|
|Dining after final deliberations in the case|
|Judge Christopher Prince announces the verdict at dinner at Hatfield College|
|The prosecution celebrating their win when Christopher King was convicted|
|The defendant on the left, his wife and their star advocate.|
|Judge Christopher Prince, the defendant Christopher King and his two defence lawyers|