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State set for court case over legal bill

THE Oireachtas is to go to the High Court later this month in a case relating to the €1.9m legal bill ran up by former judge Brian Curtin, in his action against the State to stop his impeachment.

In June 2004, the Government took the unprecedented step of launching impeachment proceedings against the judge after criminal charges against him of alleged possession of child pornography were dismissed.

The charges against the judge were thrown out after it emerged gardai had raided his Tralee home using a warrant that was out of date by one day.

During the criminal case Judge Curtin denied knowingly accessing child pornography and his legal team argued their client's computer had been attacked by a "trojan horse" virus that downloaded material onto his computer without his knowledge.

After the criminal charges were dismissed, Judge Curtin fought the impeachment proceedings for more than two years running up a legal bill of €1.9m. The legal charges were incurred during Judge Curtin's attempts to challenge the constitutionality of the Oireachtas Committee set up to investigate him.

The battle went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which finally cleared the way for the impeachment process to begin. However, just before the Oireachtas was due to begin its inquiry, the Circuit Court judge resigned on the grounds of ill health.

"The Oireachtas Commission which sought to impeach the judge will be seeking a judicial review of the decision by the Taxing Master James Flynn that he has jurisdiction in this issue," an Oireachtas spokesman said.

It is due to come before the High Court later this month for mention.

Sunday Independent