Views & Reviews Personal View

An unusual visit to court

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1377 (Published 10 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1377

I’ve always viewed myself as a law abiding citizen, but before I knew it I was sitting in the local county court, alone in the defendant’s position, with my hospital’s barrister, a trainee barrister, and three witnesses on the claimant side. Apart from one visit to the coroner’s court when I was a senior house officer 18 years ago, I had never been to court before. This time I was a defendant, a witness, and my own counsel.

It all began 12 months ago when my hospital trust fined me £10 (€11; $15) for parking in a space reserved for outreach nurses when I was attending a sick patient while on call. I had parked there at around 6.30 am and then after seeing the patient had carried on with my ward round, followed by my usual daily duties. I admit I could have moved my car after the ward round, but this was the last thing on my mind when all my routine duties were crammed into a shorter day.

The receptionist at court warned me that …

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