The Trial: A Murder in the Family – Where are the Solicitors?

23 May 2017

As The Trial progresses a notable absence continues, where are the solicitors?

We know that Mr Davies is represented in his second police interview (as we see his representative reads a prepared statement). But, these brief scenes aside, one would be forgiven for assuming that the entire criminal justice system ran on the brilliance of barristers alone.

The Trial has shown Mr Davies engaged in regular meetings with counsel during the trial. So far, so normal - trials can develop in unexpected ways.  But we have repeatedly seen Mr Davies providing counsel with instructions about his discovery of Carla Davies’ body, self-evidently, a core aspect of this case.

We have considered the steps which could have been taken to ascertain Mr Davies’ medical presentation on the day of the murder  but the preparation of any trial does not pause between the police station and the trial. In the interim period, solicitors are in frequent contact with their clients.

Trial preparation takes many forms and is largely dependant on the particular facts of any given case. However, to prepare for a trial the solicitor will meet with a client to take their full instructions; draft, agree and submit a defence statement; undertake enquiries that assist the defence case (for example, instructing an expert witness to critically assess the conclusions of the prosecution’s experts); and identify witnesses who assist the defence. This body of work is then collated, considered and sent to counsel under the cover of a ‘brief’.  

The solicitors will ideally work with counsel throughout this process. Undoubtedly this preparation would include meetings with counsel and the client to discuss and agree trial tactics. These conferences would also consider the most contentious parts of the case – in this instance, Mr Davies’ discovery of his wife’s body.

Admittedly, this work may not be compelling viewing and does not naturally fit into the usual timesaving staple of a montage. But, the omission of the preparation in an attempt to streamline the broadcast is very different to the suggestion that it would occur at court. Even in financially strained times, one would expect Mr Davies’ solicitor to be present as key instructions are taken.

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