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Judge Gillian Brasse
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a judge

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Her Hon Judge Gillian Brasse.

Judges’ wigs and robes have a practical purpose

‘It’s partly tradition but also partly to do with anonymity, as it makes all judges look the same. The wig is made of horsehair.
It’s not very comfortable and it’s very irritating on the forehead.’

Judges are discouraged from taking sick days

‘Of course judges can’t get sick – that’s not allowed! On the whole we try to keep going, because if you have a long ongoing case and you become ill in the middle, it may well have to be adjourned until you recover. If you were near the start of the case, another judge would take over and they’d have to start again.’

Legal types find it hard to lay off the cross-examination

‘I very much like to go home and leave work behind if I possibly can, but barristers get very used to cross-examining and are known to keep going when they’re out of court. I hope I don’t continue judging when I get home!’

The legal year is a bit like the school year

‘Traditionally it’s almost the same as an academic year, running from October to July. These days, in fact, most courts carry on all year round, but at the start of the legal year judges still have what’s called the Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast in Westminster Abbey. We all wear our robes, including old-fashioned tights and buckled shoes for the men.’

Backache is a serious problem

‘Our job is sitting, so judges notoriously get back problems. I make sure I walk around the building during the lunch break to give my back a rest.’

See the ‘Respected and Protected: The Rights of Children’ exhibition at Central Family Court, High Holborn, WC1V 6NP.

Now discover the things you only know if you’re a lock keeper.

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