Preparing for trial

There was a rather embarrassing news report about a Judge falling asleep during a court hearing.

Mrs Justice Parker was according to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, given ‘formal advice’ over the incident. She has not therefore been reprimanded or punished. She is a very senior and experienced judge. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, which deals with complaints about Judges, released a statement saying:

‘While concluding that this amounted to conduct which had the potential to undermine public confidence the judiciary, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice took into consideration that the judge fell asleep only momentarily and has expressed remorse for doing so.’

One of the parties in the case she was conducted the hearing of, complained that she had fallen asleep. It is staggering to believe that someone could fall asleep in front of parties and representatives putting their cases to her. It begs the question as to how much she had listened to and taken in before falling asleep.

Preparing For Trial

It is a reminder that Judges are not perfect. There is no guarantee that a Judge hears and understands all the points you make in your case. When you walk in the court room at trial, you have no idea how much reading the Judge has done on the papers in the case.

It is crucial therefore that when preparing your evidence for trial, you set it out in a way that will make it easy for the Judge to spot the important points and that the key documents are obvious for the Judge to consider. For example, sub headings in a written witness statement are very useful. Organising documents in sections / groups is also sensible, especially if you prepare an index for them, if there are quite a lot to get through.

The trial itself will be very quick so it is important to stress the main points and evidence you want to get across. Do not presume the Judge will know a great deal about the case before you enter the court room.