Judge criticises Cork solicitors boycotting his courts

Friday 18 February 2000 20.22

The judge who convicted Cork solicitor Marguerite Fennell for contempt has claimed solicitors boycotting his courts are behaving in an unconstitutional manner. Judge Michael Patwell described the boycott as deeply shocking and an attack on the constitutional independence of the courts and the judiciary.

For the third day in a row, business at Judge Michael Patwell's court was disrupted by the action of local solicitors. After adjourning most of today's cases, Judge Patwell read a statement in which he claimed that the solicitors were acting in an unlawful and unconstitutional manner by attempting to force him to reverse his decision on the contempt conviction. Solicitors, he said, are not entitled to be treated any differently to any other citizens in the state. He urged those who feel an incorrect decision has been made in this case to follow well established judicial procedures.

This afternoon, the Southern Law Association said that it was "completely unacceptable", that one of its members found herself arrested, incarcerated and deprived of her liberty, when putting arguments on her client's behalf. The Association described Judge Patwell's action as extreme. However, it welcomed his suggestion that he be re-assignment to another district until the matter is resolved.