Our Criminal Advocate in New York
In 2010 whilst on holiday in New York, Ruth Johnson one of our criminal advocates found herself wandering across the Brooklyn Bridge. Nothing too unusual, except once she arrived in Brooklyn she kept wandering and before she knew it, she had managed to wander into the front entrance of the New York State Supreme Court, Jay St.
Having practised exclusively in Criminal Defence since 2006, Ruth was curious to see how it was done across the pond. She spoke to some Court Officers and was permitted access to one of the Court rooms on the higher floors above, to watch the proceedings and get a flavour of the US judicial system.
This in turn led to a friendship with two of the longest standing federal Judges on the New York Circuit. The Hon. Judge John Ingram and the Hon Judge Vincent Del Giudice.
After arranging a private tour of the Old Bailey in 2015 for Judge Del Guidice, Ruth decided it was his turn to repay the hospitality whilst she was on holiday again in New York last December.
So on a bitterly cold Friday morning, the 14th December, Ruth made the journey once again from midtown Manhattan, across the famous bridge and back to Jay Street, Brooklyn. She was met by officers and escorted to the Judges Chambers, some 26 floors above street level and boasting an unparalleled view of the New York skyline. With the Empire State Building and Freedom Tower straight ahead, it was certainly capable of rivalling the beautiful quayside and cobbled streets below the windows of Kings Lynn Magistrates Court where Ruth is usually to be found.
After a brief reunion chat about flights, life over the pond and plans for the holiday, it was into Court to observe the case management of 20 murder cases for Brooklyn and surrounding areas. Ruth was amazed at how quickly the hearings were dealt with, given that the defendants were produced from the local prison for every case. With at least 6 armed guards in Court at any given time and defendants shackled in handcuffs at all times, there were issues regarding disclosure to iron out, availability of trial dates to consider and plea negotiations to discuss. Ruth was able to chat to some of the local defence attorneys and the Prosecutors bringing the cases to trial and by 12.30pm (having started sitting at not long after 10.15am), the list was complete!
After spending a little more time with Judge Del Giudice and some of his fellow colleagues, it was time to return to midtown, with plenty of ‘Happy Holidays!’ wishes from all as she left. Ruth says it was a truly unforgettable experience with a promise to the Judge that next time, it would be a trip to Norfolk for him, a real world away from the hustle and bustle of the 5 boroughs of New York.