THE ADVOCATE 627
VOL. 79 PART 4 JULY 2021
I was counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada shortly after the death
of the late King, and, very largely because of the example set by Senator
Farris, we wore, as a sign that we too were in mourning, pleated bands
and white covers on the sleeves of our coats which reached from cuff
almost to elbow. The origin of the pleated band and “weepers” (the sleeve
covering) is unknown to me at the moment. I leave it to some member
of the bar to supply the answer.6
As the anonymous writer of the Law Times column cited above noted in
1938, “there have been those of an iconoclastic turn of mind who have
thought that the wig, gown and bands of the barrister might well be consigned
to the museum of antiquities; but those so thinking have not
received much support in their crusade”.7
The columnist would no doubt have looked askance at the West Coast
iconoclasts in British Columbia, whose legislature formally abolished the
wearing of wigs in court in 1905 by An Act Further to Amend the Supreme
Court Act,8 although the wearing of gowns and tabs of course remains a feature
of our local practice today. However, with mourning bands and weepers
now all but forgotten, traditionalists might wonder how the legal
profession is to express appropriate “official” sadness, when sombre times
call for it?
In response, the iconoclasts might suggest with a shrug that if the pandemic
has taught us anything, it is that there is probably a Zoom filter for
Flowers for the Judge9
By Ludmila B. Herbst, Q.C.
By the mid-18th century, the Old Bailey stood alongside Newgate Prison.
Conditions in the prison were horrific; it was a “kind of terrestrial inferno”10
in which a vast array of individuals—including those convicted of what by
today’s standards are petty crimes, and some not convicted at all—were confined.
A stench permeated the courthouse, which at one point was partly
open to the elements, but which had been enclosed in around 1737.
The much-anticipated trial of Captain Clark, who had killed another man
in a duel, occurred in April 1750.11 Many onlookers crowded into the court to
watch. Seven to ten days after the trial, most of those who had been present
had a bad fever, and ultimately between 40 and 60 of them died, including
two judges, the Lord Mayor of London, an alderman, a barrister, two or three
students of the Inns of Court and several members of the jury. “Gaol fever”—
likely typhus fever—was apparently the cause.12 Within the prison itself,