From the Morning Post, 2 November 1827, this account of civil trials before Lord Norbury, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, published shortly after his resignation at the advanced age of 87:

The performances of Lord Norbury, in the Court of Common Pleas, were greatly preferable, in the decline of the Dublin stage, to any theatrical exhibition…

His Lordship had a strong bias towards the plaintiff… when he saw [defence counsel] pushing a plaintiff’s witness to extremities he used to come to his aid… this interposition called the defendant’s counsel into stronger action, and they were as vigorously encountered by the counsel of the other side. Interruption created remonstrance; remonstrance called forth retort; retort generated sarcasm; and at length voices were raised so loud, and the blood of the forensic combatants so warmed, that a general sense of confusion, to which Lord Norbury amply contributed, took place… it it was difficult to determine whether the laughter of the audience, the explanations of the parties, the protestations of the witnesses, the cries of the counsel or the bellowing of [the judge] predominated…

These scenes continued, until both parties had closed, when a new exhibition took place, Lord Norbury’s charge to the jury, almost uniformly in the plaintiff’s favour, a wild harangue generally consisting of narratives associated with the history of his early life, mixed in with jokes of his own manufacture, and with sarcastic allusions to any counsel who had sought to check him during the trial [and] quotations from Milton and Shakespeare, which, however out of place, were very well delivered, and evidenced an excellent enunciation…

The whole performance evidenced a mind which resembled a whirlpool of mud, in which law, facts arguments and evidence were lost in unfathomable confusion…

Difficult to image such pantomime occurring in today’s sedate Court 2, Four Courts! It sounds like great entertainment, unless of course you were appearing for the defendant, in which case you might describe it as something else entirely. Just as well it was an era in which questions of liability and quantum in civil actions were left to a jury rather than a judge!

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