Sunday 30 April 2017

Hardiman is a significant loss to legal system

When Judge Adrian Hardiman died last year, the State lost one of its most powerful voices, writes Patrick Geoghegan

Judge Hardiman. Photo: Collins
Judge Hardiman. Photo: Collins

Patrick Geoghegan

This Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the sudden death of Supreme Court judge Adrian Hardiman. Over the past 12 months there has probably not been a day when I have not thought about him and felt his absence. From talking to his family and many friends, I know I'm not alone in this.

When the shocking news was announced on March 7 last year, there were a number of eloquent tributes. I was struck by what was said, not just by those who knew him and were familiar with the enormous contribution he had made to the State, to the law, and to scholarship, but by complete strangers as well. One man tweeted of how he had once emailed Adrian asking for help with 'a run-of-the-mill' college assignment. Adrian invited him to his office in the Supreme Court and spent a considerable time chatting about various aspects of defamation. A law student in Trinity, who had never met him, tweeted that she had almost dropped out of her course, but had been inspired to continue because of his powerful dissent in the DPP v JC (2015) judgment.

I think that Adrian himself would have been amused and entertained by the tributes on Twitter after his death. It was a social medium he was fascinated by, even if truth be told he didn't really understand how to use it. Sometimes I would email him screenshots of particular tweets that I thought might interest him. In the aftermath of his powerful judgment in the JC case, I sent him a couple of the comments. One was, 'In fairness Mr Justice Hardiman is a legend #dissenting #exclusionaryrule'. Another asked 'If Adrian Hardiman thinks the Supreme Court decision is b******t, who am I to disagree?'

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