The Jury's Out


Anthony Harkavy




You’re lucky if you’ve never been asked the question in a police station or court. 

The law deals with extremes of human behaviour. So it is not surprising authors have written about lawyers since Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. His Sergeant at Law is a highly respected if pompous lawyer who is considered very wise. Shakespeare’s Justice Shallow, as the name suggests, is not a paragon of wisdom. Rather more recently John Mortimer’s Rumpole was a wonderful character who defended the presumption of innocence and did not fear pompous judges. 

And while the cases reported here are merely products of the author’s wide imagination, they nevertheless vividly and realistically illustrate the virtues of irreverence, fearlessness, integrity and generosity. 

Anthony Harkavy, the author, is possibly one of the oldest debutantes as a fiction writer. He qualified as a lawyer in 1963. 

Harkavy said: ‘Most of us like a challenge. During 35 years in legal practice I was fortunate enough to be able to hone my writing skills, albeit confined to the dry and uninspiring.
An event in which I was involved in 2013 with my good friend and outstanding poet, Jeremy Robson, prompted me to write a story about it. What better than to utilise my legal and prison experiences as a fertile source of material. Thus emerged Anthony Harrison. 

My fantasy David lawyer up against the Goliaths of the often pompous, bloated legal profession. And the torch shining its light on the humanity as well as the brutality, existing behind prison gates. A challenge which I have relished.’ 

Harkavy has written stories which show how legal life works. There is the case of Gradsky v Gradsky. In their pre-nup agreement Gradsky had to meet his rich wife’s demands for sex and more sex. But was he really just after her money? One story covers probably the only dog to give evidence in court. The tales also deal with financial crimes. 

Harkavy spent 13 years after he retired volunteering as an independent prison monitor. Some of these tales reveal the brutality and tragedy of prison but one is utterly different. Many inmates can’t read until... 

‘They are human and gripping, with unexpected twists. That he should have turned to writing so late in life and produced compelling stories is remarkable,’ says Jeremy Robson. 

The stories are entertaining, poignant and offer an insider’s view of the courts and jails. They will make readers think, sometimes laugh, and always want to carry on reading. 

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