Monday 18 February 2019

Judge hits out at his colleague over 'foul' language

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

A JUDGE who is well-known for his outbursts in the courtroom has warned a fellow judge to clean up his act or he will "see" his removal from the district.

Judge John Neilan, who is famed for making controversial remarks, has attacked Judge John Coughlan for using "foul" and "offensive" language in court.

The judge said he would "not tolerate" his colleague making "derogatory comments".

A war of words erupted between the two men this week after Judge Coughlan, a moveable judge, ordered that a case was not under any circumstances to go back to Judge Neilan.

However, Judge Neilan took issue with this, and with the language allegedly used by the judge in Longford District Court, and warned that he would "not accept" his conduct.

Tolerate

Speaking at a sitting of Tullamore District Court in Co Offaly yesterday, he said: "There are no circumstances where I would tolerate Judge Coughlan's comments." He added: "If Judge Coughlan's conduct continues, I will address it through the appropriate format."

He said that he had never met Judge Coughlan, a moveable judge who does not have a specific district to preside over, "but if I do it will be made clear in no uncertain terms what my views regarding his conduct are". He added: "It is my obligation as judge to consider the facts as presented to the court regarding jurisdiction. One of the factors is, what is the point of view of the Director of Public Prosecutions?"

He accepted that his manner of outlining his displeasure "may come as some surprise", but stated he "could not and will not tolerate a judge, recently appointed, making derogatory comments".

"If he has any courtesy, any problems with my decisions he should deal with them through what is known as the appropriate channels," he said.

"If not," he added, "I will see that he will not be permitted to sit in my District Court area.

"His use of language in the administration of justice is absolutely appalling," he added.

It is not the first time for Judge Coughlan's language to come under the spotlight.

The Supreme Court noted "improper" and "wrong" remarks made by the District Court judge about his defendants in the past. He has also come under fire for the unusually high number of appeals made against his judgments by people he convicted.

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