Tyler J. Garrett, Esquire
2015 Pegasus Scholar Report
Stepping off the Tube, we made our way down Chancery Lane to the Royal Courts of Justice, a Victorian building bustling with barristers. That day, we were meeting with Lord Justice Moore-Bick of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The Court’s massive entrance was beautiful but imposing, and with each step one could sense the history of this hallowed legal ground. We were escorted to his Lordship’s chambers, where he was graciously waiting to greet us. We took a seat and sipped on tea, English breakfast I believe, during which his Lordship took time to explain the cases set for oral argument that we would be observing. Discussions about our respective legal systems followed, with a few fun stories interspersed. Then it was time to attend arguments.
We walked with Lord Justice Moore-Bick through a private hallway towards the courtroom where we met up with Lord Justices Beatson and Vos, who completed the panel. The clerk commenced court with a knock on the door; we entered the courtroom, and took our seats just to the side of the bench where their Lordships sat. A barrister rose and began presenting his argument, which flowed like a Rolling Stones’ hit. Their Lordships, attune to every word, asked numerous pointed questions and received refreshingly candid answers. Several hours passed, the session concluded, and the Lord Justices rose for the day. Back to Lord Justice Moore-Bick’s chambers where we discussed the arguments, compared aspects of our respective legal systems, had a few more laughs, and then said our goodbyes.
An entire day spent with an esteemed Court of Appeal Lord Justice. This was just one of the many memorable experiences my learned co-scholar and I had as Pegasus Scholars.
Experiencing the English legal system firsthand as a Pegasus Scholar was more than an education; it was a revelation, exposing a world that I had only read about in books. Blazing trails with barristers. Haunting the halls of the Old Bailey. Pondering legal issues with a Lord on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Each day lent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The aim of this Report is to provide a peek into the world of a Pegasus Scholar, and, at a minimum, to encourage other young attorneys to pursue this inspiring opportunity. For inspiration, in my mind, is what propels progress in our profession. As Justice Cardozo once mentioned: method is much, technique is much, but inspiration is even more. The American Inns of Court recognized this truth many years ago and created an opportunity not only to foster the relationship between two great countries, but to fuel the forward thinking of next generation legal minds. I am grateful to have had the privilege to be inspired on a daily basis during my time across the pond. It was a remarkable and rewarding journey.
The scene of the London legal world is a beautiful balance between tradition and the contemporary. Imagine a barrister decked out in a wig and robe presenting a case with nothing more than a MacBook, or a video-linked hearing being conducted within the walls of London's most prolific criminal court, the one that inspired lines in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. Quite the contradiction, or perhaps complement, to an ever evolving legal landscape.
As I worked with several top London-based barristers and began to dig deeper into the inner workings of the English legal system, differences readily emerged between their system and ours. We all know the common law that exists here in the United States was derived from England. Surely it would seem that our systems would be somewhat similar. Not the case. As I quickly learned, they are markedly different in many ways.
One of the most striking dissimilarities is that the English legal system divides legal representatives into two groups—barristers and solicitors. The former are true trial attorneys; a courtroom their domicile. Connoisseurs of candor, clarity, and confidence. Able to make a case clearly and cogently through prose that are effortlessly perfect. They are specialists in specific areas of the law and oral advocacy. The English legal system demands these qualities, thus stamping out the stratagem and subversion that unfortunately permeates our system at times. Never did a barrister disappoint.
Another interesting aspect of a barrister is that they are self-employed. The significance of this is the avoidance of conflicts. Thus, two barristers in the same chambers (somewhat similar to a law firm) can be on opposing sides in the same case. At first blush, it was difficult for me to comprehend how this could be since here in the United States it would be virtually unheard of to have lawyers from the same firm represent directly opposing sides in the same litigation. But as I observed two barristers from the same chambers that I was working with do just that, and maintain strict separation, I now understand how such a legal process effectively operates. Simply put, professionalism and ethics are never sacrificed and their longstanding system works well.
Solicitors are the experts in drafting documents, fostering client relationships and building the case. Their responsibilities include the daily demands of a matter, including preparing pleadings, working closely with clients and dealing with discovery issues. If the case may likely go to trial, a solicitor will retain the services of a barrister to assess and advise on the merits, and to advocate in court. Like barristers, solicitors hold themselves to the highest of standards and are brilliant in their own right. I had several occasions to observe the interplay between barristers and solicitors, and was very impressed by the camaraderie and teamwork to obtain the best result for the client.
Regarding substantive principles of law, studying the English legal system and experiencing firsthand how it now applies or perhaps has reconsidered certain laws created a chance for me to compare how we in the United States have done, or should do, the same. As Oliver Wendell Holmes astutely observed in the late eighteen hundreds, which still rings true today, we are in the midst of a philosophical reaction, and of a reconsideration of the worth of doctrines which for the most part are taken for granted without solicitous questioning of their grounds. "The Path of the Law", 10 Harv. L. Rev. 457, 468 (1897). No better instance exists in the United Kingdom than the Criminal Justice Act of 2003. By way of example, it substantially amended, inter alia, evidentiary issues to broaden the use of hearsay, propensity evidence, and bad character evidence. Quite a divergence from our law. The tension between laws of old and new creates challenging issues both countries will continually need to address, and this experience has equipped me to view such issues through a unique lens.
While there are many more comparisons that I could mention, for sake of brevity I rest my case on the above. I hope it provides a flavor of what a Pegasus Scholar is able to learn by being on the front lines of the legal world in London.
The Inns of Court
The Inns of Court in London consist of four societies, which are the legal associations for barristers in England and Wales:
- The Honorable Society of the Inner Temple
- The Honorable Society of the Middle Temple
- The Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
- The Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn
These Inns are beacons for barristers. Barristers are required to belong to one of the Inns, and with that membership comes many benefits. It is at the Inns where the value of collegiality and the art of mentoring are bestowed upon each barrister. Training, supervising, and practicing all take place within the walls of these campus-esque settings located in the heart of London. Each has a grand library to assist with research and provides a quiet place to work. There are historic “halls” to dine with fellow barristers; notably, the Middle Temple hall being the venue where the first recorded performance of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night took place on February 2, 1602. The majority of barristers’ chambers are also located at an Inn. Indeed, it seems the center of a barrister’s universe is his or her respective Inn.
Pegasus scholars are given exclusive access to these Inns. When we visited the Inner Temple, for instance, my co-scholar and I spent the better part of a day exploring the grounds, including a stroll through Temple Church. This church was built by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century and was consecrated by the patriarch of Jerusalem in 1185. The olden effigies of Knights Templars reposed side-by-side in the church—having survived the blitz of World War II—sent shivers. We then had lunch in the hall, and observed collegiality at its best. Barristers who were on opposing sides that morning were now breaking bread together. An inspiring scene.
On another day, we spent an afternoon at the Middle Temple. While walking through a hallway to the library, we passed a signed copy of the Declaration of Independence. Come to find out, five Middle Templars were signers. Interestingly, one of them was Edward Rutledge from South Carolina, the brother of United States Supreme Court Justice John Rutledge (also a Middle Templar). We then made our way to the Middle Temple library, which houses one of the largest collections of American legal materials outside our country. The close connection between the countries was on full display.
Overall, the Inns of Court are truly remarkable legal institutions. The intellectual and collegial atmosphere no doubt carries over into the courtroom. When a barrister rises and argues a case in court, he or she is not simply paying lip service when referring to opposing counsel as “my learned friend.”
Access to Judges
As already mentioned, my co-scholar and I spent an entire day at the Royal Court of Justice with Lord Justice Moore-Bick. But this was not the only opportunity to meet some of the United Kingdom’s greatest judicial minds.
We had the privilege to meet Lord Hughes of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom for civil cases and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Lord Hughes was generous with his time, speaking to us on various legal issues for several hours in his chambers, both before and after oral arguments. He also went above and beyond by giving us a personal tour of the courthouse building and explaining the Court’s history. The Court was created by the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005, and opened its doors in 2009. Before then, members of the House of Lords had served as the highest court of appeal. Inside the building, there is a contemporary tone that reflects the nascent Court. But tints of old are revealed if one looks closely. Just outside the entrance, for example, stands a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. It was hoisted in 1920 to celebrate the Treaty of Ghent and a century of accord between our countries. Although the Court moved into the building over fourscore years later, the imposing statue remains. The building’s unique blending of eras was indeed intriguing.
Additionally, a visit was granted to the chambers of Her Honor Judge Rebecca Maria Poulet QC, a Senior Circuit Judge at the Old Bailey. We spoke at length about our respective criminal justice systems and the current changes impacting each. It was amazing to learn of Judge Poulet’s volume of work, which consumed much of her days, nights and weekends; she is the definition of devotion to a timely and fair system of justice. A tour of the Old Bailey provided a further perspective of the court. Historically speaking, it is the most prolific criminal court in England. Although the building has been rebuilt numerous times since the seventeenth century, its history remains apparent at every turn. Interestingly, part of the present building stands on the site of the medieval Newgate gaol, on Old Bailey road which follows the path of London’s fortified wall (otherwise called a bailey). Ah, the history.
We also had a chance to visit courts outside of England. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, we met with His Honor Judge MacFarland—the Recorder of Belfast who is regarded as the senior county court trial judge in Northern Ireland. We spoke at length about various legal issues, and then observed morning proceedings over which Judge MacFarland presided. Although the cases on the docket were diverse, his Honor knew the details of each and conducted the day’s business with great care. After the morning’s court session ended, Judge MacFarland walked us over to the chambers of The Right Honorable Lord Justice Gillen of the Court of Appeal. We ate lunch in his Lordship’s chambers and had a great time discussing our respective legal systems and sharing stories. In the afternoon, we observed oral arguments being presented to a panel that included Lord Justice Gillen. True to form, counsel and the Court engaged in lengthy dialogue lasting several hours, fleshing out answers to questions that the briefs could not fully answer.
In Edinburgh, Scotland, we visited the Faculty of Advocates and toured the advocates’ (what trial counsel are called in Scotland instead of barristers) library where each has a chair on a shared desk to call their office. It was an obvious representation of the closeness and collegiality of their legal world. We also had time to observe a high profile murder trial at the High Court of Justiciary. The prosecutor put on one of the best displays of advocacy that I have ever witnessed; he was prepared, civil, confident, reasonable, and therefore, very credible. These qualities made the presentation of the case-in-chief very effective in my opinion, which was confirmed by later learning that the jury found both defendants guilty.
Aside from meeting numerous judges throughout the United Kingdom, my co-scholar and I had the great pleasure of dining with two distinguished American jurists—American Inns of Court President Chief Judge Carl Stewart and board member Tom Leighton. Both were in London for the Global Law Summit and had jam-packed schedules, but they somehow made time for us—a true testament of the American Inns of Court’s devotion to mentorship. I look forward to our paths crossing again at the Celebration of Excellence Gala Event held at the Supreme Court of the United States in October.
Experiences outside of the legal world during my time in London also were remarkable. The value that came from acclimating to a foreign land and assimilating into the local community has surely provided me with a heightened level of cultural competence.
The Pegasus Scholarship allowed the borough of Kensington to be called home for six weeks. The flat was a ten minute jog (eight minutes for my co-scholar) to Hyde Park, which provided a serene place to burn a few calories and ponder the opportunities provided by this program. My morning run never got old: passing by Kensington Palace; dodging ducks at Round Pond; glancing at the Albert Memorial; shadowing the Serpentine; and making the turn at Speaker’s Corner.
After a day in the legal world, there was still time to take in more of London: attending a lecture at the Inner Temple on the influence of Shakespearean works; grabbing some fish-n-chips at the corner pub; catching a play in the West End Theatre District. We were mesmerized strolling through the British Museum. We even met up with British Pegasus scholars at the Tower of London to watch the changing of the keys. And of course, speaking with locals about current events and living life as a Londoner for six weeks was enlightening on a personal level.
Being given the privilege to be a Pegasus Scholar has provided a profound base for how I approach the law, and will surely shape my thinking as I practice through the years. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to those that helped make this reverie a reality.
First and foremost, I thank the members of the Selection Committee for investing the time to review my application materials and speak with me during the interview process. Sincere thanks to Cindy Dennis, the American Inns of Court’s Awards & Scholarships Coordinator, who went above and beyond, working through the logistics and answering all my many questions. Likewise, thanks to Eamonn O'Reilly with the Inner Temple Inn of Court, for securing my placements with two very prestigious barristers' chambers and setting up meetings with judges throughout the United Kingdom.
To Nigel Dougherty of Erskine Chambers, as well as Martin Goudie and David Wood of Charter Chambers, thanks to these chaps. I felt like part of the team whilst working in their respective chambers and learned so much about the English legal system because of them. Nigel, Martin and David are remarkable barristers and it was an honor to watch them in action.
To my co-scholar, Mike Weinstein. A brilliant gent, with a bright future as a leader in the California legal world. He is a trusted and lifelong friend.
Big thanks to Justice Davis and the entire Wyoming Supreme Court for rallying behind me to pursue this opportunity. I am very lucky to have such an amazing support system in my professional life. It is truly an honor to be part of the Court.
And last, but certainly not least, heartfelt thanks to my wonderful wife and children. My being away so long was tough on them, but they let me go on this journey and picked up the slack at home, without complaint.
Thank you all. I am grateful.
Tyler J. Garrett, Esquire is a staff attorney for Justice Michael K. Davis on the Wyoming Supreme Court, where he drafts opinions and advises on complex legal issues presented for appellate review. He is the author of the forthcoming publication, Anatomy of a Wyoming Appeal: A Practitioner's Guide in Civil Cases. A cum laude graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Garrett was Staff Editor of the John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law and Chief Barrister of the Trial Advocacy and Alternative Dispute Resolution Honors Program.
Garrett earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Montana State University and spent a semester studying abroad in Kauhava, Finland. Before joining the Wyoming Supreme Court, he served as a law clerk to Judge Terrence L. O'Brien of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and, before that, practiced law with Jenner & Block in Chicago, Illinois and Holland & Hart in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He has interned or externed with the Law Division of the Cook County Circuit Court, the First Judicial District Appellate Court of Illinois, and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He is a member of the Ewing T. Kerr American Inn of Court.