open justice. I had a physical reaction, my gut dropping like a stone, when HHJ Howells said what she did. Their status and power makes judges intimidating. Barristers are used to the judge addressing them – and they are part of proceedings and can reply. This is not the situation for observers. I was shocked by what happened and this episode has caused me not a small amount of anxiety. I’m a bit worried about writing this account of what happened and how I felt about it. It’s taken me a long time to feel able to do so.