Judges Behaving Badly

Two cases that show that one can’t necessarily rely on judges for judgement.

The first is the wonderful tale of how a judge who was spurned for a post-retirement judge took it out on the firm he had hoped to join. Sir Peter Smith will now be remembered as much for this case ((Howell & Ors v Lees Millais & Ors [2007] EWCA Civ 720 (04 July 2007) )) in which he is censured in the strongest terms by the Court of Appeal as for his Da Vinci Code judgment ((Baigent & Anor v The Random House Group Ltd (The Da Vinci Code) [2006] EWHC 719 (Ch) (07 April 2006) )).

And courtesy of my partner David Stratas, a story from Australia. A judge can sleep in court and that won’t be a valid ground for appeal…. as long as you are in New South Wales! :)


  1. Have a look at this post of regarding the NSW decision. It shows that, whether right or wrong, the NSWCA isn’t alone in its approach.

  2. Chan appeal

    Alberta Queen’s Bench justices can fall asleep during sentencing too.

  3. The issue is expored at length in the UN War Crimes case: Prosecutor v. Zejnil Delalic, Zdravko Mucic (aka “Pavo”),
    Hazim Delic and Esad Landžo (aka “Zenga”)
    , known as the
    (“Celebici case”)
    A footnote mentions R v Moringiello [1997] Crim LR 902; R v Edworthy [1961] Crim LR 325; R v Tancred 14 April 1997, Court of Appeal (Criminal Division); Kozlowski v City of Chicago 13 Ill App 513 (the fact that a juror fell asleep during proceedings, absent an affirmative showing of prejudice to the complainant, is not a ground for a new trial); State of Ohio v Dean, Ohio App Lexis 3873, Judgement of 20 Sept 1988 (Court of Appeals of Ohio) (must be a showing of “material prejudice”).