Wednesday 1 March 2017

Busy judge deals with majority of rape cases

HE may well be the most high-profile judge in the country.

With a copious workload that includes gruesome murders and the harrowing evidence of rape trials, the name of Mr Justice Paul Carney would be expected to grace plenty of newspaper copy.

Yet, his colourful and sometimes controversial commentary and decisions on trials often garner more column inches than most.

His decision to let serial rapist Patrick O'Brien walk free on bail earlier this week drew widespread public criticism, with rallies planned for this weekend to seek sentencing guidelines.

Previously, Mr Justice Carney drew the wrath of rape victims after accusing the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre of a "serious abuse of process" in relation to victim impact reports stating the severity of the sentence would determine the level to which the victim was reconciled with the justice system.

Naturally, his workload is one of the largest as the "listing judge" of the criminal division of the High Court.

At his busiest in the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Carney was hearing an estimated seven out of every 10 rape cases. In addition, over half of all the murder trials were landing on his bench.

His expertise is highly regarded and recently the judge formed part of a three-judge High Court charged with deciding upon multiple sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming's right-to-die legal action.

Among the high-profile cases the judge has been dealing with were road-rage deaths. Last year, the judge revealed he had turned to the gardai after receiving "menacing" hate mail following a recent road rage court case.

The judge's rulings are often forced centre-stage as they are appealed.

After being called to the bar in 1966, he became a senior counsel in 1980.

Irish Independent

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