Forget Law and Order UK, everyone’s favourite legal drama Silk is back (24th February 2014) to kick off the third series. Here’s a legal look at it (written up as the programme was airing, so apologies if it’s a bit disjointed).
Series 3 kicks off with an appeal being dismissed by the Court of Appeal. There’s then a party (for Clive becoming a QC) in the Royal Courts of Justice at which Martha and Clive begin to get it on in what looks likes Courtroom 7, before Martha puts a damper on it by passing out.
Then, it all gets a bit more serious. Martha’s head of chambers, Alex Cowdrey QC, has a problem. His son has been nicked for attacking a copper at a demonstration and so half of Chambers run down to the police station.
The police officer has died and so David is up for murder. For some reason both Martha and Clive are representing him (two silks is pretty good going) and they go off for a bail application. The prosecutor is deeply unpleasant and winds Martha up. Clive decides not to go to Manchester where he’s been offered a four month fraud so he can help out.
So, we move to the trial. The prosecutor is still being quite slippery but Martha’s going for the partial confession that David has made. She smells corruption. And a breach of PACE. And then the clerks have got some evidence that the police officers have been talking overnight and going to the home of the widow when they shouldn’t have done.
Next up is Inspector Wright who is pretty bullish. But it all falls apart when it turns out that he has added words to his notebook during the trial. Worse still for the prosecution, their star witness admits that he is giving evidence because the police promised to stop harassing his brother. He does stick to his guns that David was the aggressor.
It’s 50-50 as Martha says. But then David’s girlfriend refuses to give evidence because she says David was actually being aggressive. And, as Martha finds out, it turns out that David is schizophrenic and was hearing voices at the demonstration.
Cue ethical dilemma. Despite the lawyers around her cautioning her to raise the mental health issues and get a new trial, she goes ahead and makes a closing speech that is sailing very close to the wind ethically.
The jury come back and we find out that (1) David was only up for Manslaughter and (2) The jury have acquitted him of that.
Meanwhile, there is a side plot that involves a realistic (if dramatised) tension in the clerks room between the old school Billy and the new world of Practice Managers.
Silk is top quality drama. Well written, well constructed and well acted. But frankly you wouldn’t come to us for a drama review, so we won’t carry on too much more pretending to be TV critics. It’s generally very accurate (as far as legal dramas go) and so when we set out the following factual issues, don’t be too critical of us :
A couple of points:
- An appeal is dismissed not refused (I know, that makes us sound a little bit anal).
- The Custody Sergeant points out that barristers don’t go to the police station. This is actually no longer the case (plenty do) but whilst the father would be there as an appropriate adult (to look after his interests if he is under 18 – it’s a bit unclear) Martha and Billy wouldn’t be allowed in.
- It’s pretty unlikely that Martha would be independent enough to represent her head of Chambers son (although not a complete given). Most likely the prosecution and defence would get lawyers in from out of London)
- Martha and Clive wouldn’t be interviewing potential witness like David’s girlfriend. This is, however, a TV staple and makes for good viewing. Without that it would be a bit disjointed.
- Someone such as David (young boy with no previous convictions) would probably get bail, even though this is a murder/manslaughter
- The questioning of Inspector Wright may have been stopped by the Judge as it got a little bit heated
- The trial would probably not have carried on once David’s mental health issues became clear (that’s a big one, but a bit of dramatic licence is needed)
A great opener to the third series. There are a couple of inaccuracies, but partly because of the strength of the writing and acting, they do not disturb a lawyer’s enjoyment of the show.
See you next Monday …