April 4, 2015
July 27, 2014
‘Sun do shine’, is how one source had it – though the reporter may have been hamming him up to appear suitably folksy. ‘The sun does shine’, is how others presented it – though they may have imposed grammatical correctness in order to achieve political correctness, i.e. to avoid accusations of having made him appear unduly folksy.
Either way, the speaker was Anthony Ray Hinton (59), who came back to life after 30 years on death row for a double murder he didn’t do.
(Two fast food restaurant managers shot and killed in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1985.)
On 3 April 2015, making his way through the media crowd, a dignified black man in a dark suit. We hear the ululations of his mother or sister as she falls on his neck.
But we don’t know which she is. Is she too folksy to figure in the official account? And was it one of those prisons where visitors and inmates mustn’t touch, making this their first embrace for 30 years? No one has found the time to find out.
Having rolled away the stone, releasing Anthony Hinton from three whole decades buried in a five by eight foot sepulchre provided by the state of Alabama, the public gaze has already moved elsewhere.
Leaving Hinton alone to get on with what’s left of his life, perhaps.
Either that, or sending him down again to the place where people are discounted; to thepurgatory which put him in the frame in the first place.
Philip Cattan (65) is the judge accused of falling asleep during a rape case.
Presiding over the trial of a Manchester man accused of raping and sexually assaulting two girls under the age of 13, Cattan is said to have nodded off while the first of thealleged victims answered defence questions by videolink.
The trial had been going on for only a few days, but it is four and a half decades since Cattan was called to the bar – in 1970, the year Paul McCartney announced the break-up of the Beatles.
As a newly qualified barrister he may have felt he had Wings. Forty-four years later, Cattan is still touring the Northern Circuit – plying his trade as a criminal lawyer, working as a recorder (part-time judge).
Of course there is plenty of privilege in his day to day existence – wigs and gowns and ‘all rise’ and first class rail fare claimed as standard by the judiciary. But also plenty that is workaday – similar-sounding tales of cruelty, wantonness and people simply losing it, stretching out year after year, all having to be processed; subjected to the due process of law.
‘Due process’ means that people caught up in events leading to criminal proceedings – whether as defendants or witnesses, are accorded the process that is their due. Without this there is not even the possibility of justice (still less the actuality), since failure to observe due process amounts to a form of contempt for those involved.
On the other hand, observing the formality of the court serves to enter all those involved into the public domain – the place raised above personal existence where human failings are addressed in a duly impersonal way.
If he did fall asleep while his own court was in session, Recorder Cattan is to be upbraided for his offence against the requisite level of formality – the formalities which formulate the presence of the public.