District judge misses courts due to illness

Simon Brouder & Anne Lucey

There is expected to be some disruption to the District Courts in Kerry for a number of weeks as Judge James O'Connor has been forced to take temporary leave due to illness.

Judge O'Connor - who presides over all courts in District 17 which covers Tralee, Killarney, Listowel, Dingle, Kenmare, Cahersiveen and Killorglin - was unable to preside over Tuesday's sitting of Killarney District Court and he was replaced  on the bench by Judge John King.

The Courts Service told Over the Christmas and New Year period, four special sittings of the District Court - primarily involving custody cases - were held in Judge O'Connor's private residence in Glenbeigh as the judge was ill and unable to travel.

He did preside over a sitting in Tralee Courthouse on Monday. Judge David Waters was due to preside over Tralee District Court's regular sitting today (Wednesday).

Both Judge King and Judge Waters are 'Moveable Judges' who are available to cover gaps and temporary vacancies in the various court districts.

Prominent members of Kerry's legal community say they understand that substitute judges will preside over sittings in District 17 until the end of the month. This could lead to some disruption and delays as the temporary judges may not be fully aware of the backgrounds to all the cases that come before them.

A native of Glencar, Judge O'Connor was appointed to District 17 in April 2005, having previously served as District Court Judge in District 18 covering the Millstreet, Macroom and West Cork area. Aged 65, Judge O'Connor's tenure was extended last July for a year.