Today I am joined by John Mayer, author of The Parliament House Books series.
As a qualified advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland, John writes with the knowledge of someone very familiar with the workings of the courts.
His novels feature crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane, with book 4 in the series, The Trust, due for release on 3rd of November.
John has written a guest post today for us all entitled ‘Crime and Justice’
‘As crime book readers, you all enjoy suspending your disbelief for as long as a particular book holds you. That’s entertainment and that’s fine. But real crimes last for ever….’
Please read on for more…
Crime and Justice
by John Mayer
I’ve chosen this topic because of its importance to us all. As crime book readers, you all enjoy suspending your disbelief for as long as a particular book holds you. That’s entertainment and that’s fine. But real crimes last for ever. They last in the marks they make on the body, on the mind of the victim and in the collective memories and feelings of those left behind after a murder or serious assault. So, crimes are individual or small group acts. Whereas, justice is a collective act, done by a public prosecutor in a public court on behalf of a whole society.
Then we get to the old saying ‘Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.’ Well, in my long years in the High Court in Scotland both prosecuting and defending, I can tell you that’s a fantasy. From the moment of arrest by the police, through the drafting of all the paperwork in the Prosecutor’s Office to the actual trial in court, there is a ‘presumption by the prosecutor of guilt.’ Heck, it’s often the same on the defence side, the lawyers just don’t say that to the client. It’s certainly true in the collective minds of the public. How often has it been said after a ‘manhunt’ for someone and an arrest by police ‘Oh, they’ve got him.’? There’s that old presumption of guilt.
So what hope, you may ask, is there for someone on trial? Well, that’s where things get tricky. Let me ask a question: What do you call someone who took four attempts to get through their medical examinations at university? Answer – doctor. If someone looks like a doctor, talks like a doctor and is in a hospital in a white coat, then they’re all the same. Right? Wrong! The same applies to lawyers. Most court lawyers I’ve known are mediocre at what they do. They do it for the money and only for the money. Their duties to the client are often not well understood, far less correctly applied. This is especially true where the lawyer is being paid a mediocre fee by the ‘state’. It’s a case of ‘If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.’
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not just in the UK or the USA that what I’ve said applies. No state from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the present day has ever produced a perfect legal system. There is no such thing; because crimes and the corresponding justice that might follow them, are all done in the field of human affairs where nothing is, or can be, perfect. So the criminal justice system rumbles on. For those on the wagon, it’s a very bumpy uncomfortable ride: but it’s all they have.
So, is there any hope of getting justice in a court? Well, I always told my clients that if it was justice they wanted, they’d need to try the church down the street. In a court, you get legal procedure. What’s that? they’d ask. The reply was always that regardless of what the law books said, legal procedure is whatever the judge decides it is on the day. Is it fair? Well, that depends on which side of the court you’re sitting in.
That looks like a pretty gloomy picture for those hoping for fairness and a ‘just’ outcome after some serious crime. But wait! There is one little light shining in the court and that’s the nature of most people sitting on the jury. In my long experience, juries do listen and think about the evidence. I’ve only known one corrupt jury and that arose because two young jurors formed a sexual relationship very early in the case and thus couldn’t be relied upon to be independent in their verdict.
Juries understand that crimes are committed on people. People just like them, or their son, daughter or grandchild. Juries bring something to the criminal justice system that no system can duplicate: humanity. And humanity in all its forms. Belief, disbelief, suspicion and attraction, instinct and enquiry. When most jurors wrote something down, I always knew that was the pivot point of the case and tried to tip that point my way in my jury speeches. That’s a way to win, but is it the way to justice? To answer that last question you’d have to qualify and become a lawyer yourself to find out. What we lawyers know that the public doesn’t know isn’t a secret. It’s just too much information and understanding to pass on in a few sentences or even over a few drinks.
So the next time you’re on a jury, don’t be too hard on the lawyers. They’re probably just mediocre tired and worn-out people with problems of their own at home; doing their day job. If you want excellence in court, then you need Brogan McLane.
You’ll find him in The Parliament House Books.
Trust me, I’m a lawyer.
That thread which holds the fabric of society together is broken here in so many ways.
McLane witnesses a suicide. The Faculty of Advocates and the University of Edinburgh are both hacked. Now his wife is convinced he’s having an affair. Who sent incriminating photos to his home and are these events connected ? Career and happy family life crash into misery and confusion.
Who can he trust to help him discover whoever is behind all this ?
Purchase Link ~ The Trust
John Mayer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, a war-zone where violence and poverty reigned. In 1963 when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, he decided to change his life. Aged 14 he left school because, in his opinion, he wasn’t being taught. For the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds and began to understand what more the world had to offer. He became an Apprentice engineer, and soon was teaching men twice his age. In the early 1970s his love of music led him to set up as a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a disheartening court battle with global giants, he left the business world and went back into further education at the University of Edinburgh, becoming an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. There he acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.
John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcast to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, appeared on TV and in print media. Since retiring from the Law, John has enjoyed using his years of very colourful experience to create The Parliament House Books series.
The Trial is the first full length novel in this series. Set in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is more than a nod to Franz Kafka’s book of the same title. The Trial sees crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane, fight injustices so casually delivered by Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.
The Trust is the fourth full length novel available November 3rd.
Website ~ http://www.parliamenthousebooks.com/
Twitter ~ @johnmayerauthor