Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" - William Shakespeare

The character in Shakespeare's Henry VI who spoke these words was actually addressing the important role that lawyers can play in society.  We have certainly witnessed this during our visits.

We have visited a Magistrate's Court where we watched legal arguments presented to a bench of three lay judges.  Today, we explored the training of solicitors and barristers and ultimately judges in the English judicial system by visiting all four Inns of Court.  The Inns of Courts are the professional associations for barristers in England.

                  The gardens of Gray's Inn

We finished our examination of the English court system by visiting the Royal Courts of Justice where we sat in on criminal appeals, as well as visiting the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Supreme Court Courtroom One...we arrived just after adjournment for the day, so we took advantage of the empty chairs normally occupied by the justices.

Our legal guide, Solicitor JoAnn, discusses the tradition of English barristers wearing wigs.

We ended the tour as any good attorney would...in a pub!  Although I'm sure you'll be skeptical...we weren't there for pints of ale...just to admire the grand interior of the Old Bank of England Pub.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Trooping the Colour Rehearsal

Today we were fortunate to get to see a rehearsal for the Trooping the Colours thanks to Constable Watson and the British Military who granted us permission to stand on the parade ground.  

This is a file photo from the actual event - it was raining this morning and I didn't get any good pictures - even the official British Military photographer was talking to us instead of taking photos.

Take a look at the following website for historical information on the reason for trooping the colours and for pictures/videos from current day celebrations of the Sovereign's birthday - and then set your alarm clock for really early on Saturday the 13th of June to watch this year's ceremony.

Sunday in the English Countryside

It was a perfect day to leave the hustle and bustle of London and see what lies outside the city limits.  We were fortunate to have the very knowledgable Sarah with us again as our guide to history, architecture, and anything random.

First stop Stonehenge where we viewed the 'magic stones' and tried to comprehend what would drive people to expend so much effort to bring these massive stones from so far away to this particular location. How did they manage the construction of this site with the tools (i.e. deer shoulder blades) that would have been available to them?  So many questions....truly one of the wonders of the world.

This year, the new visitor's center was complete - including the addition of a village representing how the people of that time would have lived.  What would drive people who lived so simplistically and with a constant fear of survival to dedicate the time and resources to the construction of this massive henge?

Final stop of the day - Bath - a city tour and a tour of the Roman Bath. Bath is the only destination in the UK to have the whole city designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Since 1987, Bath has been listed as a ‘cultural site’ with outstanding universal value and cultural significance. (The homemade fudge and gelato might have helped the town get that designation!)

The Westminsters

Mm We've been very busy...and apologize for getting behind in our blogs!

Friday and Saturday were days of Westminsters.

Friday- a visit to the Westminster Magistrate Court

Our guide (and former solicitor) JoAnn, explained the differences between solicitors and barristers, the various court levels in England, and the differences between District Court judges and lay judges. Then  we were able to enter several courtrooms to examine the different lay out of the courtroom, to see a panel of lay judges at work (albeit very slow and tedious work), and watch several cases being processed - including one defendant who shared the public gallery with us before being called forward.  This young lady was charged with 5 counts of assaulting a police officer as the result of an episode where she scratched, spit on, and headed butted 5 officers.  Apparently Constable Watson's continued reminders that they are 'nice police officers' is true as the officers in this incident handled the 'mentally ill' girl with care while she assaulted them in a tube stop, an ambulance, and the hospital.  The maximum punishment should she be found guilty of all counts - 6 months incarceration.  Quite an interesting real world comparison of the justice process.

Next Westminster - Westminster Palace (aka Parliament)

On Saturday, both CSC can groups started the day with a guided tour of Parliament. (As a side note, I think they would have gotten more out of the tour if we'd had a homelier guide!)  

Despite the distraction, we were able to learn about the role of the government in a monarchy and the division between the House of Lords and House of Commons.  I'm beginning to think that the lightbulb is coming on for some of the students and they are really beginning to see the origins of some of our practices in the U.S. 

Final Westminster (and my personal favorite) - Westminster Abbey

I first visited Westminster Abbey on one of my early trips to London, but became more interested in the building after watching Princess Diana's funeral at the Abbey on TV.  More recently, I watched as William and Kate were married there. It is certainly a place of both amazing joy and of great sorrow - a reflection of life really...that's why I paused to light a candle for the family of Ron Dorshorst who are certainly suffering at this difficult time, but I hope they will find peace in all the joy that Ron brought to those around him.  Love you guys!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Police Heritage Museum

 Thursday morning we got a personal tour of the Metropolitan Police Heritage Center by Mr. Philip Barnes.  

So many unbelievable bits of history - interesting stories and artifacts such as uniforms, police equipment, WWII bomb shrapnel, Jack the Ripper investigation notes, etc.  

April with one of Sir Robert Peel's canes - how amazing is that?!

Constable Watson showing us his signature in the registry on the day he was sworn in to the Metropolitan Police Service...and now only a few days until retirement.  I have a feeling that the CSC Justice Studies students and I aren't the only ones who are going to miss him!!

Fleet Street Stroll on a Lovely London Evening

Last night several of us went out to dinner...with a touristy walk at the beginning and end.  After a brief tube ride and a short walk, we arrived at Fleet Street.  Fleet Street was once the center of British Press and Journalism. It is also infamously known for Sweeney Todd (more on him in a bit).

First Stop - The Royal Courts of Justice

The Justice Studies students and I will be visiting the Royal Courts of Justice next week during our London Legal Walk.  The courtrooms here address primarily civil and criminal appeals.

Next Stop - the City of London

I know his may sound strange as I've been blogging from 'London' since Monday.  However, the actual City of London is based on the original Roman town of Londinium, founded around AD50. The City's boundaries have remained almost constant since the Middle Ages and it is often called The Square Mile, as it is almost exactly one square mile in area.  The dragon statues mark the boundaries of the City.

Third Stop - The Bank of England Pub

In the 16th and 17th centuries, two taverns stood on the site of the Old Bank of England, but were both demolished in 1888 to make way for the construction of the Law Courts’ branch of The Bank of England. Apparently lawyer's made a a lot of money back then too!

The Bank of England operated here until 1975, when the premises were sold.  In 1994, London brewers, Fuller, Smith and Turner took over the lease.

The Old Bank of England also has a more grisly connection with the past, for it lies between the site of the barber shop owned by Sweeney Todd, ‘The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, and the pie shop owned by Mrs Lovett, his mistress. It was in the tunnels and vaults below the present building that his victims were butchered before being cooked and sold in the pies to Mrs Lovett’s unsuspecting customers. Despite the spectacular interior, I couldn't convince the others to stop here for an ale and pie.

A Few Quick Pictures

Number 17 Fleet Street, one of the few surviving buildings dating from before the Great Fire of London in 1666.

The Temple Church

This is the church of Inner and Middle Temple, two of England’s four ancient societies of lawyers, the Inns of Court.  You may know the Church's round nave from The DaVinci Code.

Dinner Stop - Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

When they say 'olde' in London, they mean old!  There has been a pub at this location since 1538 (mind boggling isn't it?). The pub was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt the following year.  The literary figures Chales Dickens, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Dr. Samuel Johnson (who wrote the English dictionary) are all said to have been 'regulars'. 

Either all of these gentlemen were quite short or this sign has been around for a along time...again, they aren't kidding.

Final Stop - St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Catedral sits on top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London.  The Cathedral was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. 

To say it was quite a nice evening is an understatement!!

*Note: in case you are especially impressed with my photos, you should know that I have the Internet to thank for many (as the pesky bit below would indicate)*

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Central Communications Center

After the students were personally introduced to Constable Richard Watson, we were escorted into the Central Communications Command Center of the Metropolitan Police Service. - the largest of its kind in the world.  Constable Watson discussed the command structure used when both planned and spontaneous events occur in London. (Sorry, I'm not yelling at you, I just can't get this paragraph to post without all caps)

We were then able to experience 'Big Brother' at work when we viewed the monitoring of the thousands of CCTV cameras throughout London.  Maybe this will encourage the students to continue to be on their best behavior while in London!

Constable Watson led a discussion of the comparison of British and American policing...which included some live demonstrations!

To end the afternoon, he gave us all Metropolitan Police gifts....he said it was because he needed to clean out his locker for his quickly approaching retirement, but I know it's because he is just a good guy!

Brenna and Constable Watson playing a card game using a deck of Olympic memorabilia cards featuring Metropolitan Police service dogs - we all got a deck to take home!