A Painful Duty
Forty Years at the Criminal Bar
By C.D. Evans QC
In his memoir, Evans reveals insights into the practice and the characters of the Criminal Bar, with special tributes to the no-nonsense judges of the early days.
Excerpt: The Criminal Lawyer as Pariah
The principled barrister who practices on the criminal side is the loneliest person in the courtroom. Those of us who choose to practice at the criminal defense bar accept that condition because for the most part we are solitary loners. There is little standing between the average accused and a life behind iron bars other than the skill and the knowledge and experience of his or her mouthpiece, the so called “criminal lawyer.” Right-thinking members of the community at large – including other lawyers – understandably are diffident about associating with “criminal lawyers,” and generally disparage their calling with down-turned mouths. That is to some extent understandable: it is difficult for laypersons to esteem those who habitually defend thugs, notwithstanding the high-sounding admonitions of the Charter of Rights, otherwise known as “The Criminals’ Code.” It is only when the same urburgers personally encounter the rigors of the law, brought cruelly to bear upon themselves or someone close to them, that they queue up at the senior defence lawyers’ chambers, wringing anxious hands, happy to pay the tariff, which is generally fixed by “what the traffic will bear.” The thought, however, of token public funds finding their way into a criminal lawyer’s pocket, even for serious services faithfully rendered, is always anathema. The criminal bar is the Wolf at the Door; he/she is inimical to polite society … unless and until conditionally needed.