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Get a wig

Attending Lord Black's trial in Chicago, Mark Steyn writes,

In a rare moment of prosecutorial outreach to your correspondent, the government’s lead lawyer, Eric Sussman, tapped me on the shoulder the other day as if to impart some confidence on a key witness or piece of evidence. Alas, he only wanted to complain about the criticism I’d made of his suits on the Maclean’s website. “You guys should get robes,” I said. “Then nobody would have a clue what you were wearing underneath and we wouldn’t be able to do the fashion journalism.” For good measure, I suggested he and his fellow members of the Illinois Bar adopt Brit-style barristerial wigs. “Oh, now you’re busting my hair, are you?” he said, and wandered off to torment Greenspan with another barrage of reflex “Objections!”

We’re in the ninth year – whoops, my mistake, ninth week – of this trial and, in the longueurs of mid-afternoon as some underwhelming attorney combs the fine print of the 2001 10K SEC filing for the umpteenth time, one’s mind naturally wanders to more congenial topics, and often alights on the very pronounced differences between US courts and our own tradition. In the United Kingdom, the routine criticism of the robes and wigs and whatnot is that they can be “intimidating” to the ordinary citizen. Really? I would have thought Joe Public might just as often be reassured by the anachronistic garb: the dress code signals that he is in a system that operates to ancient and enduring legal principles immune to the passing fancies of the age. In the British West Indies, the silk and wing collars and jabots and horsehair wigs exemplify the difference between a genuine rule of law and what passes for justice in Haiti and Cuba.

We remain hopeful that Lord Black will be found innocent since he surely is.