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Crown Court judge blasts automated video link voice in courtroom power struggle — it ignores him

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Technology 1 — 0 Judge Jeremy Richardson QC

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A leading Crown Court judge has been forced to accept that there are limits to his power after a bruising run-in with the computerised voice on a video link.

The dispute between Judge Jeremy Richardson QC and the automated voice arose as he presided over a case at Hull Crown Court involving two prisoners accused of attempting to kill a fellow inmate at HMP Full Sutton. The duo were appearing via video link from, respectively, HMP Frankland in Durham and HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire.

With the court deep in high-level legal debate, proceedings were suddenly interrupted by a loud computerised voice, which stated authoritatively:

“This conference is due to end in two minutes.”

According to the Hull Daily Mail, this made Judge Richardson “visibly angry” and caused him to respond:

“I am not having this court controlled by some disembodied voice that comes through the system. It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. I am not having time limits put on hearings.”

The automated voice did not reply, remaining silent for some time before suddenly interjecting:

“Your conference is now over. Goodbye.”

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At which point a frustrated Judge Richardson ordered the court to rise, demanding to see a court manager as he exited the courtroom, before returning a few minutes later and attempting to reconvene with the announcement:

“It will not happen again.”

But alas, such was the gravitas of the automated voice that the lawyers in the case had assumed that the proceedings really were over — and, unlike the judge, had not returned.

The case will continue later this month.