Den danske Dommerforening afholdt sit årsmøde i oktober 1957. Som gæster deltog lagman Hugo Backman, häradshövding P. G. Lindström og borgmästare Hans Johansson. Som formand genvalgtes civildommer Harald Petersen, der på mødet indledte en forhandling om dommernes fremtidigeløn- og ansættelsesvilkår. Desuden indledte höjesterets dommer Jørgen Trolle endiskussion om »Dommeres erstatningsansvar, med særlig henblik på dommere ved by- og herredsret».
Problem i Old Bailey. Alla som överhuvud läser engelsk litteratur, av vad slag det vara må, känner väl till Old Bailey, och alla de svenska juristersom i något slags studiesyfte varit i London har väl besökt den berömda domstolen och övervarit någon förhandling där.
Old Bailey har blivit namnet på den brottmålsdomstol — för London, Middlesex samt delar av Essex, Kent och Surrey — som sammanträder i huset med samma namn, men domstolens egentliga namn är the Central Criminal Court. Som bekant utövar domarna i High Court i stor utsträckning rättskipningen i första instans i hela England. Det sker genom att de go oncircuit och håller assizes på skilda ställen. Central Criminal Court är en Assize Court för nyssnämnda delar av landet. I Assize Court dömer ensamdomare — ur High Court — med jury. Men Central Criminal Court har en särställning i det att domarna där är the Recorder, the Common Serjeant eller the Judge of the Mayor's and City of London Court — den senare välsom ersättare för the Lord Mayor som tidigare också hade domarfunktioner; dock att de svåraste målen alltid handläggs av en domare från the King's (Queen's) Bench Division av High Court.
Men naturligtvis är det hela inte så enkelt som det kan se ut enligt det hittills sagda. Under rubriken »Old Bailey in the dock» skriver The Economist 25/1 1958 bl. a. följande, som det skulle vara synd att undanhålla den intresserade läsekretsen.
In February, 1953, a man was being tried at the Old Bailey on a charge ofrobbery with violence, when suddenly the judge came out with an unusualand curious declaration. »I am sitting illegally», he said. And immediately he adjourned the trial till the next day. What had gone wrong? Nothing untoward liad apparently happened in the ccurt itself; nothing improper had been said; nothing that is was necessary to say had been left unsaid. The eause of the illegality was simply this. Apart from the judge liimself, no alderman of the City of London could be found anywhere in the building of the Old Bailey; and the absence of the alderman was enough in itself to turn the proceedings into a mockery of the law.
For some reason that palticular hearing on that particular afternoon had
gone on longer than hearings at the Old Bailey usually go on. Instead of rising at four o'clock the judge had sat on till 4.40; and the alderman in attendance, thinking the day's business was over, had gone off to perform his aldermanic duties elsewhere. And apparently his departure from the building had invalidated everything that happened in court from the moment when his feet touched the pavement in the street outside. While he was inthe building he had taken no part in the trial; he would in no event have had anything to say; he would not have contributed to the summing-up orbeen consulted by the judge in the determination of the sentence. He would just have stayed in his own room, immersed in whatever business might beengaging his attention at the time. But directly he left the building the riverof justice ceased to flow. Then ceforth the trial was extra legem.
This strange and supernatural power of sitting in one room and simultaneously administering justice in another is presumed to be given to aldermen of the City of London by the Central Criminal Court Act of 1834 — the act which fixes proceedings at the Old Bailey. When a High Court judge visitsthe City, he takes his place on the bench not as a puisne judge but as a commissioner of oger and terminer and as a temporary alderman of the City of London. He discharges his judicial duties exactly as he discharges them inthe Strand. He is addressed by the same counsel. He is bound by the same laws of evidence. He offers the same summing-up to the jury. But he is there as a commissioner and an alderman, and his High Court judgeship is temporarily inactive.
Theoretically the judge is not sitting alone for, by the Act of 1834, he must be accompanied in the trial by at least one brother alderman. And this is where the regular alderman, who caused such confusion by going home too soon, came into the picture. There is always in attendance at the Old Baileya real flesh and blood, whole-time alderman, who walks into the court withthe professional judge and for a short time sits near him on the bench. Beautifully dressed and decorative in silk breeches and frills, this City fatherstops in court for a bit, looking (usually) detached and a little bored; andafter a decent period he glides unostentatiously away to his private room outside the court. There he stays till he is wanted in court again. So long ashe is in the building, everything is taken to be correct; but let him step out of the building for five minutes and immediately the engine of the lawseizes up.
That was what happened by mistake in the trial of February, 1953; and four years afterwards (in October, 1957), after the prisoner had almost or completely served his sentence, the case was referred to the Court of Criminal Appeal by the Home Secretary under a section of the Criminal Appeal Act of 1907. The appeal judges dismissed the appeal on the ground (interalia) that no substantial miscarriage of justice had occurred; but they did not decide that the alderman's absence from the building was immaterial. They seemed carefully to avoid that point, and it is pretty clear that they thought the judge at the Old Bailey was right, four years before, when he exclaimed: »I am sitting illegally.»
Man kom alltså denna gång undan med blotta förskräckelsen och slapp att få fastslaget att åtskilliga rättegångar i Old Bailey alltsedan 1834 varit olagliga. Men man kan anta att man för framtiden har säkerhet för att få se en prydligt utstyrd alderman vid High-Court-domarens sida åtminstone underdet första skedet av rättegångarna — och att domaren avslutar förhandlingarna senast klockan 4.