Jim O’Connell

“Mumble mumble” said the bespectacled grey-haired man on the leather seat up behind the massive wooden bench apparently talking to the wall.

“Mumble” said the man in the blue shirt with red badges from where he stood lower down to the left facing the man on high.

“Mumble mumble” repeated the man on high as he turned his face to the opposite side of the bench below him where a group of men in crumpled suits stood and sat. Some shuffled sheaves of papers, others looked at the floor.

“Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble” went one of the suits reading from a raggy note while scratcing at the sleeve of his blue jacket.

“Mumble” went the man on high again.

Blue Suit turned, pointed a finger at a bewildered-looking youn woman in a brown jacket. He motioned to her to come forward to stand next to him.

Man on high mumbled once more.

The mumble was taken up by Blue Suit, speaking in the direction of the young woman. She nodded and muttered something.

Man on high mumbled again.

Blue Suit nodded toward the woman. She nodded back, retreated and left the room.
The large wooden framed glass door banged noisily as she exited.

What had just happened?
A great deal of inquiry and questioning of people who actually understood one or two words of the exchanges revealed that the judge had asked the garda superintendent to state the case against the young woman, the solicitor in the blue suit had explained something or other to the judge, the judge had, through the solicitor, asked something of the young woman. After she had agreed to whatever was asked the case was referrred back to a future date.

This would be a silly farce if it did not profoundly affect the lives, health and well being of people, many of whom suffer considerably from disadvantages because of social inequalities, inadequate community care, scarce affordable health supports and mental health care and even lack of nutrition because of poverty.
It would seem that in a lot of these cases the people who stand to lose the most because of this nod and mumble procedure are only at times lucky enough to acutally be aware of what is happening as the powers that be and their supporting cast of the lawyers club make decisions or omissions that have serious impacts on their lives. There have most definitely been lots of instances where people have been deemed to have not made an appearance at their own trial who have actually been in the building and didn’t know their case was being heard.

This is a scandalous situation without even considering the legal stipulations that “justice should not only be done but also be seen to be done”. The right of the public to witness the dispensation of justice is sorely impeded by, in these instances and this happens regularly, the refusal of judges and officers of the court to take some very simple steps; as in if the solicitor concerned stood closer to a microphone, the prosecuting garda actually used a microphone, the judge spoke into the microphone provided and everyone inclduing the unfortuate accused person was able to hear what was going on.
Of course, on the wall of that courtroom and probably in most courtrooms around the country sits a large, very expensive, modern sound amplification system that would defientely be extremely effective if used correctly. This was proven on the day in question when a young and possibly inexperienced garda took the stand and spoke directly into the microphone, providing the only perfectly audible contribution of the session. Possibly as he becomes more experienced he will learn that this is not the way justice is done in our courts.

Meanwhile the wheels of the judicical system trundle on, stubbornly and inaudibly grinding down people too poor to adhere to the system, the innocent and disadvantaged and others who fall foul of the law by righteously standing up against the political policing and the injustices of a government-imposed police-enforced austerity program that has to be resisted if we are ever to achieve equality and real justice for all.

But there is hope on the horizon. Across the country People Power is rising to become an irressitable force that will bring welcome change to all. That change must also shake up the system of law that presides over the population with secretive mumbling and heavy-handed policing.



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