Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said his actions amounted to misconduct
A judge hailed for his humanity in offering to pay a young defendant’s victim surcharge has been reprimanded by the authorities.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC hit headlines last spring over comments he made when sentencing a 15-year-old defendant in a grievous bodily harm case.
The female defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted telling a 56-year-old man: “I’m going to kill you”, before stabbing him through the heart in front of his two young children. She then handed herself into a Bradford police station, saying: “I’ve killed someone.”
The victim, who ended up in intensive care, had previously been found guilty of abusing his assailant when she was eight-years-old. He was given a community sentence.
It was left to Hall to sentence the defendant, 14-years-old at the time of the attack, at Bradford Crown Court. He told her: “it would be a disgrace to send a survivor like you to prison.” Instead, he handed the girl a two-year Youth Rehabilitation Order with supervision.
Hall also made the unusual move of not imposing a mandatory victim surcharge. According to the Sentencing Council: “when a court passes a sentence it must also order that the relevant surcharge is paid.” Given the defendant’s age and sentence, the surcharge would have been £15. However, in this case the judge told her:
If anyone tries to force you [to pay the victim surcharge], I will pay it myself.
Though the Bradford judge and former head of Bank House Chambers was praised for his actions by some, today the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) has made a finding of misconduct against him. The JCIO’s statement in full reads:
His Honour Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC has been subject to a conduct investigation into complaints following a comment he made during sentencing. He stated that he would pay the victim surcharge himself if the defendant were forced to pay. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice considered this failed to demonstrate impartiality, and that his comment amounted to misconduct. They have issued HHJ Durham Hall QC with formal advice.
For all the latest news, features, events and jobs, sign up to Legal Cheek’s weekly newsletter here.