Saturday, April 22, 2006


Oh lord...I mean Judge

How hot am I? I see Justice Minister Michael McDowell (pictured left wearing his Dolly Parton wig) has decided to deal with the British legal traditions which are still in evidence in Irish courts to this day.

As the Irish Independent reports:

"From next week, judges will be called exactly what they are - judges.

"Long-accepted, but antiquated, forms of address including "Yes, my lord", "No, my lord" and "lordship" are set to be replaced with far more simple replies like "Yes, judge"."

On Thursday Mr McDowell announced that the official mode of legalspeak used when addressing the Supreme Court and High Court's superiors is to be consigned to history. The new mode of addressing judges will come into effect from next Tuesday.

The minister emphasised that he was doing his bit for the Republican state in light of the recent Easter celebrations:

"I think it is appropriate that, under a republican constitution, the old-fashioned mode of address has been ended."

Alot of you may be wondering why it's taken so long for this to happen and why the Irish State didn't change things straight away after independence. Well, as this article in the Sunday Times reveals, efforts were made but they never really came to much:

"Since the 1150s, when Henry II introduced the common law system empowering judges to dispense justice on behalf of the king, commoners have been required to treat them as nobles, and deploy a host of titles such as "my lord".

"Despite attempts to abolish the practice in Ireland after independence in 1922, it has clung on. In fact, the new rule has existed since 1961 but the Irish courts refused to adopt it in practice. This was despite the fact that Article 40 of the Irish constitution says "titles of nobility shall not be conferred by the state" and no title of nobility or honour may be accepted by any citizen.

"Upon his appointment in 1924 the first Irish chief justice, Hugh Kennedy, asked the Dail to scrap judges’ titles, but the request was refused. Kennedy also proposed new designs of wigs and gowns for the judiciary but they were also turned down.

"In 1961, when the Dail finally established the court system, the law stated that judges were to be addressed simply by their title and name, yet the honorifics persisted.

"In the 1980s, the appointment of the late Justice Mella Carroll as the first female High Court judge prompted widespread confusion among barristers as to whether to refer to her as "your ladyship" or "your lordship". Carroll insisted on being called Judge."

I'm pleased to see this change come into place as it's stupid in my opinion for a republic like ours to preach all these republican values while at the same time turning a blind eye to titles and ranks still in effect in Irish courtrooms!

When I want to use the term 'Lord', I go to Church, and when I want to see people in wigs, I go to the circus. It's time we restored some much needed credibility to the legal profession in this country.

It's a sad indictment on this state that it's taken until 2006 for this matter to be dealt with.
That folks, is a farce, and you don't need to wear a wig and call yourself 'Lord' to make that judgement call.


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