Source: pp 65-66, The Art of the Advocate (1993) by Richard Du Cann QC.

  No clear principle can be formulated. It is safe to say only the advocate must at all cost avoid the once indulged in by Treasury at the Old Bailey who finished his with these words:

[1.] I have set the stage you Members of the Jury. The scenery is in place. Let me ring up the curtain and the play begin.

  Defending counsel, in an aside which rang the court, asked him:

[2.] And have your actors learned their lines?

  1. I can infer that 2 is intended to ridicule the hyperbole of 1 (in metaphorising the trial court as a drama in a theatre). But why is 2 apt and effective?

  2. Whom does 'actors' allegorise?

  3. What does 'lines' allegorise?


Actors in a play learn the "lines" (the pieces of dialog in the play's script) to say at the right times to put on a show that is fictional. It's not real. It's made up. It's fake.

The point of a court is to determine the truth, not hear some entertaining story. So if the witnesses, or "actors", are just giving their carefully-made-up testimony, or "lines", there's a grave risk of miscarriage of justice. And the person who came up with these clever stories, in this case presumably the prosecution, who would stand in the place of the "playwright", is the one most responsible for the deception.


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