The government will rush to appoint four new judges after the President of the High Court said she had “no choice” but to cancel a “significant amount” of trials and hearings, including potential rape and murder cases.
In a speech in court on Friday, Judge Mary Irvine said that the judges whose appointment was made by the cabinet on Jan.
The trials affected include all asylum cases listed through October 29, some personal injury proceedings to be heard in Limerick, planning cases, and possibly some lengthy rape and murder trials.
Ms. Justice Irvine said the consequence of the lack of two judges in the High Court Criminal Chamber for October was the “likely postponement” of a series of lengthy criminal cases, “most likely murder or rape trials”.
She said she fully understood the hardship, excitement and hardship this would mean for all concerned, trial lawyers, their lawyers, victims and defendants, but she had “no choice”. She is aware of the burdens that the cancellation of criminal proceedings will bring with it for the victims of crimes affected by the decision and for the accused, especially the innocent in custody.
She can only assure all those affected that she will do everything in her power to resume the cases as soon as possible in 2022.
Speaking in court on Friday, she said the government made a “welcome” announcement last April of its intention to legislate to provide five additional judges to the Supreme Court.
It was reasonable to assume that these five judges would be appointed at the start of the new legal year on Monday, October 4th, and it was also reasonable to assume that a number of other judges who have since retired or been promoted were replaced, she said.
“Unfortunately, these assumptions have proven out of place.” In fact, she said, the High Court will now start the new legal year with seven judges less promised than in April.
The latest information from the Justice Department leads them to believe that it will be very likely in November by the time the new judges receive their warrants and are ready to sit, with the “slight possibility” that two of them could be available the last week of October .
In the circumstances, after delaying her decision as long as possible, she had no choice but to cancel a significant portion of the work scheduled for October, almost all of which would be done by the additional judges.
A Justice Department spokesman said the government agreed last month to nominate five high court judges for President Michael D. Higgins’ appointment.
“The Department of Justice is working as usual with the other state actors involved to ensure that nominees can be formally appointed as soon as possible,” he said.
On Friday evening, government sources were silent about the reasons for the scheduling delay, but Áras an Uachtaráin reacted quickly after Ms. Justice Irvine’s concerns were raised.
After a spate of contacts between the government and the President’s Office, arrangements have been made to formalize the appointment of four Supreme Court judges next Tuesday and additional judges the following week.
In a statement, the President’s spokesman said: “Due to recent inquiries, arrangements have been made for President Higgins to appoint Donnell Chief Justice on Monday October 11 and Judge Hogan on October 15 or 18 to the Supreme Court. “
Ms. Justice Irvine said that the Addie & Sweetman case against An Bord Pleanála has been canceled on the planning list and further cancellations on this list will be announced on October 14th.
All asylum procedures up to October 29th will be canceled and further cancellations will be announced on October 21st.
Since between October 18 and 29 in Limerick, only one judge instead of two can be assigned to hear 120 personal injury suits, which will take place between the 18th hearing in the next legislative period, which opens in January 2022.
On October 7th, there will be an announcement of the rejection of cases between October 11th and 29th in the law firm and non-jurylists.
In criminal cases, the judge said that bail applications cannot be canceled due to the constitutional rights of those affected and that extradition procedures must be carried out in accordance with European law obligations and that many of those affected are in custody.
The impact of the lack of two judges in the criminal chamber in October will mean the likely postponement of lengthy criminal cases, most likely murder or rape cases, she said. The court would focus on maintaining most of the shorter trials, provided that priority is given to particularly sensitive sexual offenses involving juveniles and young vulnerable witnesses.
Since a process can break down or a last-minute admission of guilt can occur, criminal trials are canceled not immediately, but on a daily basis when necessary, she said. This is the best decision that could be made “under the current unprecedented circumstances”.
Notice of cancellations will appear in the courts’ court diary and on the court services website in the coming weeks.