Wednesday, 29 September 2010
A magistrate has been sacked after he fell asleep on the bench, causing an assault trial to collapse, the Office for Judicial Complaints has said.
John Harrison, a former city councillor, claimed he was just resting his eyes during the first day of the trial at Lancaster magistrates' court in March last year, but after discussions with his colleagues and a court official, he decided to halt the case after a day and a half.
The mother of the 17-year-old defendant complained about the magistrate's behaviour and an application to this effect was made by the defence solicitor.
The inquiry found the behaviour of Mr Harrison, who had been a magistrate since 1997, 'risked bringing the magistracy into disrepute' and he was removed.
What the reporter doesn't mention is the financial cost of such incidents in our courtrooms; not least the number of times cases are postponed and witnesses are repeatedly inconvenienced. Of course John Harrison's pension won't be affected.