To Catch a Thief, 1892

From the Belfast News-Letter, 3 November 1892: “JUDGE CAPTURES THIEF Judge Boyd distinguished himself by catching a young thief in flagrante delicto. Passing through Kildare Street, his attention was attracted to some newsboys besetting a lady. One boy was on her right, and the other on her left hand. As the boy on her left…

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Judicial Coach Hijacked by Helpful Ennis Local, 1902

From the Westminster Gazette, 10 April 1902: “The Ennis representative of the Freeman’s Journal tells a delightful story of young Ireland.  At Ennis the Assizes were held by Lord Chief Justice O’Brien and Mr Justice Johnson.  At the Courthouse door there drew up in the usual course the High Sheriff’s carriage to bring home the…

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Judge Calls Women’s Fashion the Ruin of the Country, 1895

From the Sheffield Daily Telegraph , 5 January 1894: “The Kilrush correspondent of the ‘Freeman’s Journal’ says: ‘At the Quarter Sessions here yesterday a milliner brought an action against a pension for goods supplied to his daughter, who is now in America.  His Honour Judge Kelly said women were the ruin of the country.  Nothing…

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A Noise Sensitive Judge at the Cork Assizes, 1864

From the Belfast Weekly News, 6 August 1864 JUDGE BALL KEEPING ORDER The learned judge, who is now in Cork, continues to maintain discipline with the region of a judicial martinet… At the sitting of the Court on Thursday, his lordship, addressing Sub-Inspector Channel, said:- The noise that has been in the court during the…

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Judicial Assassination Attempt at Corner of Leinster Street and Kildare Street Foiled by Observant Pensioner, 1882

From the Kirkaldy Times, 15 November 1882: “A daring attempt was made to assassinate Mr Justice Lawson on Saturday night, in Dublin.  He had an engagement to dine at the King’s Inn and left his house in Fitzwilliam Street for that purpose.  The guard by which the judge has recently been always accompanied consisted of…

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A Stolen Judicial Lunch Goes Viral, 1912

From the Derry Journal, 21 February 1912: “JUDGE KENNY’S LUNCH Luncheon was spread in his private chamber in the Four Courts, Dublin, for Judge Kenny, when, about 1.30 p.m., a tramp entered and lost no time in helping himself to his lordship’s meal. The Judge’s attendant on entering found this audacious visitor in the act…

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Judges Accompanied to Assizes by Armed Convoys, 1920-21

From the Belfast News-Letter, 2 July 1920: “WELL GUARDED JUDGES AT SUMMER ASSIZES Practically all the judges going out on circuit in the Irish Summer Assizes yesterday travelled by motor car, in view of the possibility that they would be held up if they journeyed by train. At every assize town armed judges and police…

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Slanging it Out: The Vernacular in the Courtroom, 1872-1942

From the Belfast News-Letter, 5 March 1930: “The use of the letters ‘BL’ after the name of a barrister-at-law was condemned by the Lord Chief Justice (the right Hon William Moore) in the King’s Bench division of the Northern Law Courts yesterday. Legal documents before his Lordship included the name of a lady barrister who…

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The Todd Brothers, 1917-18

From the Dublin Daily Express, 14 April 1916 “LIVELY EXCHANGES BETWEEN RECORDER AND HIS BROTHER Londonderry, Thursday Following lively exchanges between his Honour Judge Todd, Recorder, Derry, and his brother, Dr Todd, Crown Solicitor, there was an extraordinary scene at Derry Quarter Sessions today, culminating in his Honour adjourning the case and stating that he…

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Along for the Ride, Pre-Railway

From the Connaught Telegraph, 14 March 1914, this interesting account of the periodic sittings of the Courts of Assizes, which, until their abolition in 1924, had jurisdiction outside Dublin over the most serious criminal offences: “The arrival of the train by which their lordships and the members of the circuit travel in modern times, is always…

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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…

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No Palles: Health Crisis in Court 3, 1877

When cleaning out the cesspit below the Court of Exchequer in 1854, no one seems to have thought that it might refill even before future barristers conceived in that year had emerged from their chrysalis of devilling. Certainly not Christopher Palles, when he took on the job of Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer at…

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The Lord Chief Justice-v-Anna Liffey, 1870-1875

The abatement of the cesspit below Court 3, while resolving, at least temporarily, olfactory issues specific to that court, served to expose – for want of any other criminal – the river Liffey herself as the source of that lingering bad odour still smelt, on warm summer days, in the courts surrounding the Round Hall.…

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Lord Norbury’s Playground: Court 2, 1800-1827

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…

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The Affair of the White Waistcoat, 1899

From the Belfast Telegraph, 17 June 1899: “Yesterday, in the Four Courts, Dublin, in the course of a trial, Lord Chief Justice O’Brien observed that one of the Queen’s Counsel appeared in a white waistcoat, which was not professional costume. The MacDermot QC, leading counsel for the Corporation (who, by the way, holds the old…

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The Lord Chief Justice’s Phantom Coach, 1803-

The position of Lord Chief Justice, accorded to the most senior judge of the Queen’s Bench, did not bring good luck to the first such office-holder to sit in Court 1. Lord Kilwarden, by all accounts a decent and humane man, was set upon, stabbed and killed in 1803 while driving to a Privy Council…

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A Judicial Levee in a Haunted House, 1901

From the Belfast Newsletter, 15 April 1901: “Tomorrow the Easter sittings in the High Court begin, and according to old time ceremonial, Easter marks the beginning of the legal as it does the Christian year. So the Lord Chancellor Lord Ashbourne holds a levee at his residence, 12 Merrion Square in his gorgeous robes of…

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The Unwitting Dining Companions, 1784

From the Dublin Morning Register, 23 February 1838, an interesting account of barrister-solicitor relations from the previous century, involving John Scott, Lord Clonmell (‘Copperface Jack’), John Fitzgibbon, Earl of Clare (‘Black Fitzgibbon’) and an unnamed impoverished solicitor: “An anecdote of Fitzgibbon and Scott was related to the writer by a gentleman who knew the fact.…

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