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Garrow's Lore and Erskine's Luck ?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:10 pm    Post subject: Garrow's Lore and Erskine's Luck ? Reply with quote

I just want to make some notes whilst I try to fit him up / in ...



Youtube will have a lot of linked material from the television series ... but the character in it was based on somebody real : a radical lawyer who took the government's money and prosecuted the Republicans in the 1790s ...


Sir William Garrow PC KC FRS (13 April 1760 – 24 September 1840) was an English barrister, politician and judge known for his indirect reform of the advocacy system, which helped usher in the adversarial court system used in most common law nations today. He introduced the phrase "presumed innocent until proven guilty", insisting that defendants' accusers and their evidence be thoroughly tested in court. ... Garrow joined Lincoln's Inn in November 1778, and was called to the Bar on 27 November 1783. He quickly established himself as a criminal defence counsel, and in February 1793 was made a King's Counsel by HM Government to prosecute cases involving treason and felonies. ... He was elected to Parliament in 1805 for Gatton, a rotten borough, and became Solicitor General for England and Wales in 1812 and Attorney General for England and Wales a year later. Although not happy in Parliament, having been returned only for political purposes, Garrow acted as one of the principal Whig spokesmen trying to stop criminal law reform as campaigned for by Samuel Romilly and also attempted to pass legislation to condemn animal cruelty. ... [ ETC ] ...

... Garrow started as a criminal defence barrister at the Old Bailey, in a time where many defendants became increasingly reliant on barristers to prevent their conviction ... During his early years as a practising barrister, Garrow was particularly noted for his aggressive and confrontational style of cross-examination ... Garrow made much use of jury nullification to limit the punishment for his convicted clients, in a time when many crimes carried the death penalty (the so-called Bloody Code). In 1784 a pair of women were arrested for stealing fans worth 15 shillings, meaning a conviction would result in the death penalty; Garrow convinced the jury to convict the women of stealing 4 shillings worth of fans, therefore changing the sentence to twelve months of hard labour ... In February 1793 he was appointed a King's Counsel to help prosecute those accused of treason and sedition, less than ten years after his call to the Bar; and his appointment was met with a mixed response from the media. The Briton described Garrow and the other five appointments as the best talent of the age, while the Morning Chronicle was bitter due to Garrow's previous status as a friend of the Official Opposition, the Whigs, as opposed to the Tory government ...

... As the French Revolution and its perceived threat to the United Kingdom gained momentum, so did Garrow's career; he prosecuted in most of the state trials, and as he increased in experience was left to manage many of them himself, coming up against leading barristers such as Thomas Erskine, James Mingay and James Scarlett. In May 1794 the Government suspended habeas corpus, in 1795 outlawed all public meetings, in 1797 outlawed secret organisations and in 1799 outlawed all societies interested in reforming the way the United Kingdom was run. The Government planned a series of 800 arrests, with 300 execution warrants for high treason made out and signed, making a particular effort to prosecute Thomas Hardy and John Horne Tooke. Hardy was the first to be tried, with the prosecution arguing that he sought a revolution in England similar to that in France. With Garrow prosecuting and Erskine defending, the trial lasted eight days instead of the normal one, and the foreman of the jury was so tense that he delivered the verdict of "not guilty" in a whisper and then immediately fainted. Tooke was then prosecuted; again, the jury found him not guilty, with the result that the other 800 trials were abandoned ...

... During the period when Garrow worked as a barrister, the sugar planters of the West Indies held large amounts of power in Parliament, allowing them to maintain a monopoly on the marketing of sugar in England that brought great profits. This industry was largely profitable due to the use of slave labour, to which Garrow had long been opposed; when the sugar planters offered him a job managing all of their legal and political business, he replied that "if your committee would give me their whole incomes, and all their estates, I would not be seen as the advocate of practices which I abhor, and a system which I detest" ... Thanks to Garrow's political connections, he was made first Solicitor General and then Attorney General for the Prince of Wales in 1806 and 1807; he was recommended by Erskine, who said in a letter to the Prince that "he knows more of the real justice and policy of everything connected with the criminal law than any man I am acquainted with" ...

... Since 1789, the press had been speculating that Garrow, a Whig, would enter Parliament; however he was first elected in 1805 for Gatton. This was a rotten borough, with Garrow appointed to serve the interests of his patron ... In June 1812, he was appointed Solicitor General for England and Wales, receiving the customary knighthood, and, in May 1813, he was appointed Attorney General. The Attorney General was the senior Crown prosecutor, during a time when the Prince Regent feared liberal changes to the criminal law and Parliamentary structure. Garrow, as "a mere creature of the Regent", could be trusted to oppose this; rather than the progressive, defensive work undertaken in his early career, this period was one of conservative aggression against the reformers. Garrow ran particularly foul of Sir Samuel Romilly, who was one of those looking to reform a penal code many claimed was not working. On 5 April 1813, Romilly's Bill on Attainder of Treason and Felony came before Parliament. Its intent was to remove corruption of the blood from cases involving treason and felony; Garrow, then Solicitor General, declared that the Bill would remove one of the safeguards of the British Constitution. ...

... Garrow also became involved in the repeal of the Corn Laws, voting for the measure, and sponsored legislation to control surgical practice in the United Kingdom; the bill did not, however, pass into law. In the early 19th century animal cruelty was widespread; Garrow was one of those who found it appalling, and sponsored a bill in 1816 to increase the penalties for riding horses until their severe injury or death. While defeated, his actions were vindicated by a bill of 1820 introduced by Thomas Erskine, which was given the Royal Assent and came into law. Garrow eventually resigned as Attorney General and as a member of parliament in 1817, when he was appointed one of the Barons of the Exchequer ... ... Garrow's work was cited in court as recently as 1982, when the Supreme Court of Canada quoted a passage from The Trial of William Davidson and Richard Tidd for High Treason, where Garrow instructed the jury as to how to interpret testimony, in Vetrovec v The Queen in 1982. In 2006 he was again quoted, when the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal used the same work in their review of the 1982 conviction of Brian Meehan for the murder of Veronica Guerin ...

Last edited by dai on Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:58 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine KT PC KC (10 January 1750 – 17 November 1823) was a British lawyer and politician. He served as Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom between 1806 and 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents. ...


... While he was stationed in Jersey and Minorca, Erskine had on occasion preached sermons to his men, prompting one biographer to say that "a taste for oratory that ultimately would lead on to his true career originated in those soldier sermons". He also demonstrated his future skills as an advocate in a pamphlet entitled "Observations on the Prevailing Abuses in the British Army Arising from the Corruption of Civil Government with a Proposal toward Obtaining an Addition to Their Pay". Whilst on leave in London in 1772, the charming and well-connected young officer was able to mix in literary circles and met Dr Johnson. James Boswell, in his Life of Johnson, recalled meeting "a young officer in the regimentals of the Scots royal, who talked with a vivacity, fluency and precision so uncommon, that he attracted particular attention. He proved to be the Honorable Thomas Erskine, youngest brother to the Earl of Buchan, who has since risen into such brilliant reputation at the Bar in Westminster-hall". Although Erskine was appointed a lieutenant in April 1773, he decided to leave the army and, with the encouragement of his family and Lord Mansfield, study for the Bar ...

... Erskine was admitted as a student of Lincoln's Inn on 26 April 1775. He discovered that the period of study required before being called to the Bar could be reduced from five years to three for holders of a degree from Oxford or Cambridge universities. He therefore on 13 January 1776 entered himself as a gentleman commoner on the books of Trinity College, Cambridge where, as the son of an earl, he was entitled to gain a degree without sitting any examinations. He did however win the English declamation prize for an oration on the "glorious revolution" of 1688. At the same time, he was a pupil in the chambers of first Francis Buller and then George Wood. These were years of poverty for Erskine and his growing family: he installed Frances and the children in cheap lodgings in Kentish Town and survived on a gift of £300 from a relative, and the sale of his army commission. Jeremy Bentham, who knew Erskine at this time, described him as "so shabbily dressed as to be quite remarkable" ...

... In the summer of 1778 Erskine was awarded a degree and was called to the Bar on 3 July. While many newly qualified barristers, especially those without contacts to put briefs their way, took years to establish themselves, Erskine's success was immediate and brilliant. His first case, that of Thomas Baillie, came to him by chance ... Hearing of a newly qualified barrister who had himself been a seaman and was sympathetic to his cause, Baillie appointed Erskine to his team although he already had four counsel. Erskine was the most junior, but it was his brilliant speech that won the case and exonerated Baillie ... After his success in the Baillie case, Erskine had no shortage of work and a few months later was retained by Admiral Augustus Keppel in his court martial at Portsmouth. Keppel was acquitted and gave Erskine £1,000 in gratitude. For the first time in his life Erskine was financially secure ...


... In 1781 Erskine had his first opportunity to address a jury when he defended Lord George Gordon who had been charged with high treason for instigating the anti-Catholic riots of 1780. Erskine's defence not only achieved Gordon's acquittal but also dealt a blow to the English legal doctrine of constructive treason. The case established Erskine as the country's most successful barrister. By 1783, when he received a patent of precedence, he had earnt enough to pay off all his debts and accumulate £8–9,000. He could afford a country house, Evergreen Villa, in Hampstead as well as a house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. ... In 1783, when the Fox-North Coalition came into power, Erskine entered parliament as Whig member for Portsmouth. Erskine's friend Charles James Fox had been eager to have such a brilliant lawyer join the ranks of Whig members, but Erskine's speeches failed to make the impact in parliament that they did in court ...

... Amongst his notable cases in 1780s was his successful defence of William Davies Shipley, dean of St Asaph (and son of Jonathan Shipley) who was tried in 1784 at Shrewsbury for seditious libel for publishing Principles of Government, in a Dialogue between a Gentleman and a Farmer, a tract by his brother-in-law Sir William Jones advancing radical views on the relationship between subjects and the state. Erskine's defence anticipated the Libel Act 1792, which laid down the principle that it is for the jury (who previously had only decided the question of publication) and not the judge to decide whether or not a publication is a libel. ... In 1789 he was counsel for John Stockdale, a bookseller, who was charged with seditious libel in publishing John Logan's pamphlet in support of Warren Hastings, whose impeachment was then proceeding. Erskine's speech, which resulted in the Stockdale's acquittal, argued that a defendant should not be convicted if his composition, taken as a whole, did not go beyond a free and fair discussion, even if selected passages might be libellous ...

... Three years later he would, against the advice of his friends, take on the defence of Thomas Paine who had been charged with seditious libel after the publication of the second part of his Rights of Man. Paine was tried in his absence; he was in France. Erskine argued for the right of a people to criticise, reform and change its government; he made the point that a free press produces security in the government.[27] But in this case his arguments failed to convince the special jury, who returned a verdict of guilty without even retiring. Erskine's speech is also remembered for a passage on the duty of barristers to take on even unpopular cases:

"I will for ever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence, and integrity of the English Bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will or will not stand between the Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practise, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end."[28]

Erskine's decision to defend Paine cost him his position as attorney-general (legal advisor) to the Prince of Wales, to which he had been appointed in 1786. ...

... In 1794 William Pitt's government, fearful of a revolution, decided to take action against people who were campaigning for parliamentary reform. Habeas corpus was suspended and twelve members of radical societies were imprisoned and charged with a variety of offences amounting to high treason. Erskine and Vicary Gibbs were assigned as counsel to seven of them. They were not paid for their services, as it was considered unprofessional to take fees for defending people charged with high treason. The treason trials began on 28 October before Lord Chief Justice Eyre at the Old Bailey with the trial of Thomas Hardy, a shoemaker and secretary of the London Corresponding Society. After eight days of evidence and speeches, including Erskine's seven-hour speech on the final day, and several hours deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Erskine was hailed as a hero by the crowds outside who unharnessed his horses (which he never saw again ) and pulled his carriage through the streets. Although it was usual in cases where several people were jointly charged with high treason to discharge the rest if the first was acquitted, the government persisted with the trials of John Horne Tooke and John Thelwall. They too, defended by Erskine and Vicary Gibbs, were acquitted and it was only then that the prosecution was halted. A disappointed government had to scrap a further 800 warrants of arrest ...

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that what I was groping for there was the idea that right at the heart of government in the 1790s were reformers who yet prosecuted openly conducted campaigns for political and social reform ...


Letter in The Guardian, 15th November, 2011:

It was a travesty. The heroic defender who secured Hadfield’s acquittal was not Garrow, but Thomas Erskine. (…)
The BBC’s charter and its producers’ guidelines say all programmes should be “fair and show a respect for truth”. The producers of Garrow’s Law should look at it.

Professor JR Spencer QC
University of Cambridge

Letter in The Guardian, 16th November, 2011:

This series has not only stolen his [Erskine’s] achievements and given them to a man who was, in truth, a nasty piece of work, but has presumably made it impossible for television to make a programme celebrating Erskine as he deserves. The BBCshould be ashamed.

Professor John Barrell
Centre for eighteenth century studies, University of York

I can understand the outraged gentlemen to a point; ... I think that the overwhelming majority of the people who watch “Garrow’s Law” are aware of that difference. We know that Mr. Southouse is not real, that Sir Arthur Hill wasn’t the moron the series makes him out to be, and that the William Garrow of the series is also a fictional character. Through his eyes, we see law and justice – or lack thereof – in 18th century Britain. ... ... I know that many of us here have read William Garrow’s biography, which doesn’t try to deny the fact that he moved over to the “dark side” later in his life. If I had to choose between having tea with Garrow or tea with Erskine, the latter would win hands down. Erskine was a navy man (remember the case of Captain Baillie? That was Erskine’s), and we also have to thank him for laying the foundation for the laws protecting animal rights. All things considered, I find him far more likeable than William Garrow. ... ...
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[ TEXT ] Interesting doc = https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IPo6e4GT-co = I was pasting up = http://repwblic.informe.com/viewtopic.php?p=5865#5865
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