AVIZANDUM! And we’re done. Dismantle the arguments and pack up the papers, slam shut the record and peel off the wigs.

Barring an extraordinary appeal on point of law, the People vs Alistair Carmichael is now over. After two days of evidence from six witnesses and a full day of closing arguments from QCs Jonathan Mitchell and Roddy Dunlop, the MP’s fate lies in the hands of Lady Paton and Lord Matthews. In closing the case, they gave little away. Their final decision may be weeks – if not months – away.

No harm in the election court taking its good time. The legal issues are knotty, the consequences severe. “Bruiser” Carmichael will never recover his reputation for political sturdiness, but if nothing else, the wait will teach him the virtue of patience. His life now lies in the balance.

If the court finds against him, Carmichael will not only be relieved of his Northern Isles seat in the House of Commons, but will be barred from standing in the subsequent by-election. After yesterday’s hearing, the former Secretary of State will not rest easy tonight. An assured performance from the petitioners’ advocate, and a more technical response from Carmichael’s silk, leaves this case where it began – up in the air, unprecedented, unpredictable.

Enoch Powell once said that “all political careers end in failure”. But only rarely have downfalls been as unedifying as this. From the pomp of serving as Secretary of State in Her Majesty’s Government, Carmichael has been reduced to the status of an equivocating witness, explaining his lies in public. It is humiliating.

He may yet survive. Judges may determine that his lies were political, rather than personal. But the transformation is a salutary reminder that we are – all of us – subject to the law of the land. Both Lady Paton and Lord Matthews have sworn the judicial oath, to “do right to all manner of people” and to apply the law “without fear or favour, affection or ill will”.

Mitchell’s case is, in essence, simple. Carmichael’s “denial is a matter that strikes at the root of his honesty and integrity”. The political context of the leak, he argued, cannot deprive the lies he peddled of their “personal” character. Carmichael wasn’t acting as Secretary of State for Scotland when he told the country and Channel 4 he had no idea how the incriminating memo had found its way into the public domain.

Conniving in secret and keeping even his Liberal Democratic colleagues in the dark about what he had done, the petitioners argued the leak was a “frolic” of Carmichael’s own; that “this is a personal leak”. His very public denials spoke not only of Carmichael as a public figure, but of the qualities of “man beneath the politician”, and his “honour, veracity and purity”.

Reviewing the LibDem MP’s evidence, Mitchell was understated in delivery, but scathing. “The court cannot accept Mr Carmichael as a reliable witness,” he argued.

The Northern Isles MP had told a “Homeric catalogue of untruths” – to Channel 4, to the Daily Record, to his colleagues, to the Cabinet Office leak inquiry – and yes, to the election court itself.

For Carmichael, Roddy Dunlop hit back, appealing to the court that “a man is not to be convicted on an ambiguity” arguing that “to end a man’s political career on the basis of something blurted out in a TV interview” would be disproportionate.

Relying on a 2010 decision which deprived Labour MP Phil Woolas of his Oldham East and Saddleworth seat, Carmichael argues his behaviour was political from top to toe. His personal integrity didn’t come into it.

The election court has a hard task before it. This isn’t a case governed by a bright-line legal rule, pointing decisively to an answer one way or the other, or neatly categorising right and wrong. None of us should be comfortable with the idea of a court depriving a duly-elected parliamentarian of their seat too lightly.

Paton and Matthews must consider the general legal rules but also the facts and circumstances of the particular case. Every case turns on its own merits. A judgment will have to be made. But for now, the petitioners, the people of Orkney and Shetland, and their representative in the House of Commons, can only wait.

Carmichael’s fate now in the hands of judges