I recently appeared at two great events. They involved a good deal of work and travel, which taxed me after my recent illness (see earlier post, Hello, I’m Back!). But they were both very worthwhile.
On Friday 19 May I spoke on a panel at CrimeFest, held as ever at Bristol’s Marriott on College Green. This has become an annual event for me, and as ever it was lively and wonderfully chaotic, but with everything somehow coming together. The rather forbidding title of the panel was: Bring Lawyers, Guns and Money: It might be Legal, but is it Just? That might have been enough to put some moderators off, but not Thomas Mogford, who effortlessly led me and my fellow-panellists, WHS (‘Willie’) McIntyre, Simon Michael, and David Thorne, through details of our legal thrillers (a good number of which he had read), while also doing justice to his own writing. It was an excellent panel, in the course of which Thomas also opened the door to some good serious discussion about racial and other discrimination in the legal profession, a subject about which Simon and I have both written. Signed a few books and had a great time!
One of the features of my former life as a judge is a gig I’ve had for several years now. L’Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature (ENM) is the college that trains all French judges and prosecutors. Basic training takes place at the college’s HQ in Bordeaux, and continuing education at its Paris premises. For reasons I don’t completely understand, but for which I’m very grateful, ENM requires all its students and graduates to be capable of reading and speaking English to a reasonable level, and to learn at least in outline about the English and American legal systems. I have had the privilege of being one of a group of judges and lawyers who assist in teaching this part of the curriculum, and I generally make two or three trips to France each year for this purpose. Recently, my ENM contact Amanda Gedge-Wallace, also a Ben Schroeder fan (!) invited me to pioneer a Law and Literature class in Paris in the week of 22 May. In advance of the class, the delegates were assigned to read A Matter for the Jury, which became our teaching vehicle for the English trial process. I was very nervous about the prospect, but the twenty judges and prosecutors who attended seemed to have enjoyed the book, and went on to Amazon to buy more as we went along! Most importantly, they did seem to learn through the detailed discussions we held in English. ENM have now decided to continue this theme, and we will be repeating with the same book next year!