Barristers Successfully Challenge Exclusion from Side Passages of Court, 1848

In an era in which the courts, and not parliament, served as the primary venue for Irish political theatre, one significant side benefit of being a barrister was the opportunity of a ringside seat!

The Kilkenny Journal, 24 May 1848, contains a report of an interesting minor skirmish which occurred in the course of the trial for sedition of the Young Irelander Thomas Francis Meagher, transported to Van Diemen’s Land for life later that year:

Mr French, High Sheriff… ordered read more

Doing ‘Circuit’ in a Motor, 1907

From the Freeman’s Journal, 2 July 1907:

The march of science received a new illustration at the Four Courts yesterday, when some half-dozen members of the Leinster Circuit started in a motor car from the Four Courts for Nenagh, at which town the Assizes open today. The car was a big one of the St Denis pattern, and this new way of going the rounds of the Leinster Circuit was the subject of a great deal of comment. Other members of the Bar spoke of the innovation with evident read more

Three Legal Men and a Baby, 1832

From the Dublin Morning Register, 27 March 1832;

“On Friday last, an infant child was picked up by a girl of the town in one of the piazzas, at the Four Courts, where women of her character are nightly accustomed to resort. She… attempted to lodge it with the watchman on the station, by whom she was taken into custody… and was brought up before three magistrates yesterday morning. [A]n application [was] made to the Mendicity [Institution] read more

Solicitor Restrained from Breaking Through Judicial Procession Sues for Assault, 1898

From the Weekly Nation, 30 April 1898:

“Constable 141A was summoned [for assault] by Mr Alfred MacDermott, solicitor.

Mr McDermott said he was crossing under the covered passage at the coffee room door of the Four Courts [when he got] a blow across the chest from the defendant… he was seized from behind by the defendant by the collar and pushed up against a stone pillar and held there.  The next thing he heard was Judge Johnson saying “Let go that gentleman; he is a solicitor.”

Cross-examined: read more

Barrister Railway Fatalities, 1862-1921

From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 11 January 1921:

“The sad news of the tragic death of Mr Henry Kennedy, a member of the Irish Bar, in Switzerland on Saturday night reached the Four Courts today.  It appears that while getting into a train about 11.30 p.m. at the frontier on his way home, he missed his footing and was killed on the spot.  The deceased gentleman was a son of the late Mr HP Kennedy, formerly Crown Solicitor for County Cavan, and brother of Mr Vincent Kennedy, read more

Barristers’ Term-Time Immunity from Arrest for Debt, 1860

From the Irish Times, 1 February 1860:

[In] Rubenstein v O’Hara… an application was made for the purposes of discharging the defendant, a practising barrister, from arrest [for debt]. The plaintiff… left home to attend the hall of the Four Courts [without an] actual brief, but in the course of the day, he was instructed by a solicitor to appear in a case that was then pending… before he actually received his brief the case was adjourned to the following day… read more

House Party with Legal Associations Ends in Accusations of Theft, 1844

From the Freeman’s Journal, 13 June 1844:

“Laurence Broderick, a decent looking person, residing at Capel Street, was charged with having robbed Eliza Lee, who used to sell fruit and cakes about the hall of the Four Courts, of the sum of £1.15s.1d

[Miss Lee] said that she, with another female and Mr Flood, a law clerk had been in the prisoner’s room on Tuesday evening where they had sundry quarts of porter and various half pints of whiskey..

She had been ordered by her doctor to read more

Tardy Judge Fines Solicitors Who Fail to Wait, 1899

From the Daily Nation, 19 January 1899:

“SIR- Reading from to-day’s ‘Legal Diary’, I find that Judge Ross [was] announced to sit at 11 o’clock.  His Lordship, however, did not sit until after 12 o’clock. Owing to the erratic sitting of the court a large number of barristers and solicitors were not in attendance at the required time… fines of £50 each were imposed on the solicitors who were not present, these sums to be deducted from the accounts of their certified costs… read more

ADR Irish Style, Pre-1850

From the Kentish Gazette, 5 February 1850:

“A famous duellist challenged an Irish barrister, for some remark made by the barrister when the duellist was giving his testimony on the stand in an important case. The barrister knew precisely as much about fighting as a fancy boxer knows about Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’ His friends told him, however, that there was no way to avoid the scrape, and it was certainly up to him either to fight or to apologise. This settled read more

Young Bar Protest Against Judicial Unpunctuality, 1919

From the Belfast Telegraph, 2 December 1919:

“Some judges and junior barristers acted a little comedy in the Four Courts yesterday. When Judge Samuels had disposed of some appeals, he left Court No 1… some 12 junior barristers having motions to move became impatient and left the Court, informing the Registrar that he could tell the Court they would not wait. A few minutes later, Mr Justice Gibson, Mr Justice Moore and Mr Justice Samuels took their seats on the Bench. they were read more