Judge and barrister go toe-to-toe in row over hearing date
Fiery exchanges erupted in the High Court after a barrister accused a judge of having a problem with him, jumping down his throat and making disparaging remarks about him.
The judge, in response, repeatedly accused the barrister of shouting, and at one point said she would rise from the bench to allow him to “cool off”.
The heated exchanges involved barrister Alan Toal and Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds. Mr Toal was representing Samuel Van Eeden, a doctor who was seeking an injunction to stop a Medical Council fitness to practice hearing from going ahead pending the outcome of a constitutional challenge.
The inquiry had been due to start on Tuesday but did not go ahead after Mr Toal applied the day before for a stay. Mr Justice Michael Twomey granted the stay. However, he lifted it four days later, following an application from the Medical Council, and referred the matter to Ms Justice Reynolds to set a hearing date.
At the outset of the hearing, which was held online due to Covid-19 restrictions, Ms Justice Reynolds said she had taken “a brief cursory look” at a Medical Council affidavit.
Addressing Mr Toal, she said: “It is quite clear to me there was a lack of candour in moving the application before Judge Twomey.” The barrister responded: “I disagree vehemently with your assessment, though I am not surprised.” He also said he hadn’t seen the affidavit.
The judge said given the nature of the application she intended to set a hearing date for next week.
Mr Toal objected to this, saying: “With respect judge, I don’t know what your problem is with me, but every time I open my mouth to you, you either jump down my throat or make some disparaging remark in relation to me.
“If there is a 25-page affidavit, to put the matter in for hearing next week and oblige me to answer that in the meantime is grossly unfair.” The judge did not accept this and as the exchange continued, she warned Mr Toal to stop shouting.
The barrister denied he was shouting, saying he was only trying to ensure he could be heard.
Explaining the lateness of the stay application, Mr Toal said his solicitor had been ill in hospital with Covid-19. “Do you think there is something funny about this, because I don’t,” he said
Ms Justice Reynolds responded: “Mr Toal I will not have you shout at the court any longer.” The barrister again insisted he was not shouting.
“For the fourth time Mr Toal, I am going to direct you to stop shouting at the court,” the judge said. “I am not shouting,” responded Mr Toal.
The judge said she was going to rise “so Mr Toal has the opportunity to cool off”.
When the court resumed the judge set March 10 as the hearing date.