The Law, the Trinity Lawyer and the Theatre of the Courtroom


 “In the courtroom, it’s where a lawyer really becomes an actor. There’s a very fine line between delivering a monologue in a play and delivering a monologue to a jury. I’ve always felt that way – I’ve been in a lot of courtrooms. The best lawyers are really theatrical.”

—Woody Harrelson

Yes, indeed there is the theatre of the courtroom. And the dramatic persona that plays the role best is the lawyer— the trial lawyer of course.  It is true that all trial lawyers are actors in different (funny) capacities. There is the protagonist that plays one role and the antagonist that plays a different role. There is the witness that also plays a round character and another one that plays the flat character, I will not forget to mention the lawyers that play the prompters— they whisper forgotten lines to either the protagonist or the antagonist, depending on whose side they elect to take. The whole arrangement is a dialogue, or what one can simply call a two-side show. The judge or the magistrate, of course, sits in the centre of the stage like a dues ex machine to play his/her role too.

The theatre of the courtroom becomes even more interesting and funny when the trial turns to a dramatic monologue. In theatrical terms, a dramatic monologue occurs when a role actor is just the one and the only one addressing the audience and taking all roles at once. These days, some lawyers “wittingly” or “unwittingly” become like the dramatic monologue actors that play the witness and play the chief examiner and still play the cross examiner— at the Magistrate’s Court of course. Wow! What a legal trinity or should we call it theatrical trinity? Only their Honours will allow that, I doubt if their Lordships can live with that.

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The trinity lawyers, or should we say the dramatic monologue lawyers, or better still, the theatrical lawyers— always rely on a Power of Attorney to play God the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The practice is prevalent at the Magistrate’s Courts, and in brief, this is how it happens: a lawyer files all courts processes usually for recovery of premises, signing same in his name; then he comes to court bearing the power of attorney in his hand and appearing as the Claimant’s attorney; then he stands as the Claimant’s lawyer and, by implication, as the Claimant sole witness; then he enters the witness box and swears on oath that his evidence (as a witness or as a lawyer? Only God knows) shall be the true, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; then he leads himself in evidence in the first person pronoun; then he tenders all the documents from the box; then assures himself that there will probably be no cross examination; then he says to the Magistrate that he has no cross examination for himself; then he goes back to his seat and becomes a lawyer again and not a witness to the Claimant that he represents.

Our dear trinity lawyer plays it all. He trades it all. He banks it all. He hunts it all. He plays all the cards all by himself. He goes all out and delivers a rehearsed monologue to the Magistrate. He is his own prompter. His own scriptwriter. His own script actor. His own script director. At that moment of his theatrical prowess, nothing matters more to the trinity lawyer than to use that enabling power of attorney to achieve his desired result. One wonders what happens to certain professional duties he owes the court, the bar and to himself which may easily make him rob Peter to pay Paul in his attempt to play his many simultaneous roles. Maybe he has forgotten. At times, the road may not be so smooth for the trinity lawyer where the Defendant comes to court ready with his or her own lawyer. Should that be the case, our dear trinity lawyer may be butchered to pieces with the angry machete of his learned brother for the Defendant. Also possible is a scenario where the trinity lawyer (despite his long years at the bar) will have to be put through the rigours of cross examination by a mere litigant— lay people we call them, but believe me, some of them are professional litigants and are now very conversant with the art of litigation. God forbid the day when a lay person will beat a learned person hands down in the open court. Lol!!! That will not be me, of course. Only a trinity lawyer should be ready for such a possible blow.

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It was Monica Bellucci that says “I think the lawyers are such incredible actors. Can you imagine the performance they have to do every day?” Yes, all litigation lawyers are actors and plays different roles in the script from the beginning to the end of a suit. But then trinity lawyers are somewhat in a class of their own. They are the God the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. I have never played a trinity lawyer, and I wish never to, as far as I am concerned. I do not know the way you see it, but for me, I do not suppose the legal or theatrical doctrine of trinity is the way to go.

Bolaji Ramos, Esq

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