Magistrates [and others] in my opinion operate within what is arguably the most politically correct organisation in the country……Her Majesty`s Courts and Tribunals Service and under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice. The well known and accurate description; “justice must not only be done it must be seen to be done” is not merely a snappy phrase; it gives meaning to a necessary pillar of a free society.
Within the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office it seems there is no such consideration as “three strikes and you`re out”. It is sometimes more a matter of slip up once however minor and out you go. It is questionable whether that philosophy operates amongst other professional supervisory bodies.Then pity or castigate John Harrison ex J.P. on the Lancaster Bench who in 2010 was thrown out for nodding off whilst chairing an assault trial. It seems that judges, however, can fall asleep during a trial, admit such and continue on the bench. Such was the situation with His Honour Judge Michael Coombe [now deceased] who fell asleep during a robbery trial in 2002. Although convictions against the defendants were held at appeal in 2004 three of them had their sentences reduced. Interesting reports are available here and here. And his is not the only example. In 2001, Judge Gabriel Hutton was disciplined for falling asleep during a rape trial. In 1999, Judge Victor Hall was 'severely reprimanded' after he was convicted of drink-driving. There is more to read at Mail on line
It seems that the propensity to conceal judicial incompetence at the higher levels like all such attempts at cover up from Watergate onwards will lead to more revelations. Sleeping judges are a not uncommon consequence of advancing age, stuffy courtrooms and listening to sometimes boring people talking boring nonsense.
So for any former colleagues especially those sitting in afternoon sessions……….an inability to have time for more than a cup of tea and a sandwich as opposed to a three courser and wine as our senior colleagues at Crown Court can avail themselves is no cause for despair. The motto is there is usually no second chance; keep awake or be fired!