Wednesday, 6 August 2008

'Waiting for the Verdict' Abraham Solomon

By special request, here's another one for the lawyers...


You might ask yourself why our Mr Solomon has chosen to depict the characters at the centre of the legal drama so distant from the 'light' of the court.


  1. An excellent picture, Peter...everyone in a Courthouse, from lawyers to Judges to the officials to the public gallery chaps seem to forget that other people's lives are on the line..(as they indulge their bloodlust, sanctimony and revenge)

  2. A lawyer returned to his office after obtaining a successful verdict and whooped "Justice has prevailed!" His partner yelled "Quick appeal!"

  3. Clearly the blame in this picture can be placed firmly on the architect. How can one possibly blame the lawyers for where the public seating is located? Clearly a case for blaming the architect!!!

  4. And another thing, while I'm at it: there are very good forensic reasons for keeping people away from the Courtroom. It stops the evidence of later witnesses being tainted by what they might hear earlier witnesses say in the box. If there is anything wrong with this painting, it is that the family are allowed to talk to each other (although presumably the title suggests that they have given their evidence and are just waiting for the decision).

  5. Lawyers are productive in the sense that they help you navigate through the legislative maze.

  6. And another thing (I am really on a roll): going to court is not supposed to be a pleasant experience. It is meant to be an intimidating (often terrifying) experience. Remember, most (especially old) Courthouses hear both civil and criminal cases. Do you really want criminals feeling good about having to front up and answer for their offences? Of course not. You want them as uncomfortable as possible. Especially young first offenders. Many friends tell me that their first and only trip to Court (usually for a minor traffic offence) was the scariest experience of their life and literally scarred them straight. They wonder how the lawyers (stout hearted fellows, all) can do it every day.

    Interestingly, there have in modern times been moves to make Courthouses more 'user-friendly' and inviting. Usualy with Family Courts and consumer disputes tribunals. If you want to see where legal costs are REALLY wasted, look at these places. Where litigants feel comfortable, they are prepared to take petty points and insist on running bad arguments, which makes the whole exercise more expensive.

    If you want a system that cuts down on legal fees etc, return to old fashioned and intimidating Courthouses.

  7. Justin

    When it comes to providing justice the courthouse architecture is of secondary importance and, really, a non-essential. Making the court building in-humane or hostile, intimidating and uncivilised does nothing to assist in dispensing justice.

    An alteration to your comment:
    If you want a system that cuts down on legal fees etc, erect an Objective justice system with Objective Law.

    Always concentrate on the essentials first.


  8. Interesting painting. I wonder what the accused is accused of? I wonder what his fate will be. What will happen to the family? Perhaps this is the last time the family will be near him, all in the same place. Perhaps he will be executed or exiled to some devil island for the term of his natural life. Perhaps they grieve over some terrible thing he did. Perhaps he is an innocent man so they worry for his fate. Perhaps he had some no-good associates who got him into trouble. So many scenarios are possible. The uncertainty of what the story actually might be is perhaps a metaphor for the uncertainty of the accused's immediate future. What will the verdict be? He'll soon know it. Then things will be settled for him... and for that family.


  9. Bizarre.

    A major criticism of libertarianism is that an extremely contractual approach to everything results in extraordinary amount of litigiousness. Look, for example, at the US health system and its related armies of lawyers.

    Yet you libertarians hate the very court system that you want to use.

  10. anon

    The US "Health" system does not operate on the mutually benefical voluntary approach of Libertarianz or libertarianism. It does provide an excellent example of the destructive influence of collectivisation and socialism. What has been delivered in greater amounts over time is coercion, fraud, cronyism and various govt provided monopolies. Too bad for individual patients. Their interests are less than secondary. Building and preserving the "system" and its special interests is what it is about! That aint Libertarianism.

    The Libz support a completely privatised system. They also promote a society where people can contract with each other on a VOLUNTARY basis. That is very different from the present situation where people are coerced or forced into a particular approach whether it is right fo them or not- whether they would freely choose a particular alternative or not. It is certainly different to the present situation where they have no recourse or right to seek redress for breeches of agreement or duty etc.

    As far as a legal system and courts are concerned, the reason they are so expensive and vexatious presently is due to the nature of the laws and legal processes being applied. They are not objective or clear or honest or concise or clear. The results are as experienced. Again, not what Libertarianz propose or support- not the system the Libz would erect...

    You'd do well to examine your conscience and consider the difference between voluntary agreement and coercion. In the end that is the choice that one faces- either one supports and defends a system of coercion (and hopes that one's own interests are promoted advantageously in the process- too bad about the cost burden falling upon others) or one supports a system of voluntary co-operation (including agreement to recourse to various forums of dispute resolution such as a court should the need arise).


  11. The key issues are justice denied, justice provided and family helplessness.

    Examine Waiting for the Verdict in conjunction with Solomon's other painting on the subject, The Acquittal:
    I refer you to the "Victorian Paintings" blog at
    and my own blog "Art and Architecture, mainly" at

    Solomon was a smart observer.


  12. I have seen the original of this painting, and it's followup mentioned by Hels, "Not Guilty (The Aquittal)". They were in the museum in Tunbridge Wells, whether or not they still are, I couldn't say.

    "Waiting for the Verdict" was very appropriately used on the cover of an edition of Dickens's 'Bleak House', which I studied at A-level. Since I was in T/Wells at the time, a friend & I decided to visit the museum to see it. It wasn't on display, so we asked someone about it. They were utterly delighted to get it for us, and them told us about the 2nd painting, and retrieved that also. They are marvellous works in the flesh, and surprisingly small, both about 10"x8" in size.

    If anyone finds themselves with an idle quarter of an hour in Tunbridge Wells, I would recommend seeking the museum out!


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