HHJ Pennyweather: Why can’t we have the TV cameras in our county courts?

Posted on 4th Dec 2013 in BabyBarista

J Penny Weather

It’s just not fair. Not fair at all. One minute, the policy is that it’d be wrong to have cameras in our courts and the next it appears to have changed but only for the likes of the Court of Appeal. I can’t believe that I spent years appearing in the Court of Appeal and not getting any of the so-called oxygen of publicity. Not even a single molecule – excepting of course my inclusion in a long list of new silks in that particular year.

Then, long after I leave it’s suddenly all change. Some barristers are now talking about negotiating the right to have advertising logos on the back of their gowns which might appear in the highlights on the news. Others are saying that they’re simply going to wing it with the first big advert and threaten restraint of trade if anyone tries to stop them. I wish them luck there but even so, it’s still not fair. How did I miss out on this new age of what will truly become the celebrity barrister? Double page spreads ‘At home with the Pennyweathers’ could very happily fund our Summer holidays as far as I’m concerned.

What really gets my goat is that they’ve supposedly opened up the courts but only the really senior ones. As if to say that those of us judging in the lower courts really don’t matter at all. That we’re not even on the radar. I mean, okay, it’s not all high-flying law-making down here. But even so, what about the human drama of a good old road traffic accident or boundary dispute? I’d like to think that any television producer frequenting my court for more than an hour or two would see the potential for live coverage all day. A whole channel devoted to the court hearings of the learned and, with a bit of publicity, the rich and famous HHJ Pennyweather.

But it wouldn’t only be entertainment. I’d be able to add an educational element into my judgments too, making diversions into explanations as to the particularly tricky areas of law so that regular viewers would slowly become acquainted with the great body of learning and wisdom which is the English common law. Not only that but I’d be able to tell them about the ICLR and how law reporting really works as well as flagging to those in the esteemed practice of law the great benefits of using the ICLR online.

Then of course there’d be the groupies who waited patiently outside of court each evening for a learned autograph in the learned and ghostwritten autobiography as well as perhaps a little bit of wisdom from on high. Not to mention the TV cameras asking one’s opinion on the matters of the day. A few late night discussion programmes on issues of high culture or international affairs and that’d probably be my working week rounded off quite nicely.

As for those neighsayers who suggest that to allow the circuit judges in on the game would be to open the floodgates to crusty old loose canons full of vanity and grandstanding, all I can do is laugh in the face of such an absurd suggestion.