Judicial watchdog received over 400 complaints about judges making ‘inappropriate remarks’ last year

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By Thomas Connelly on

One judge called a defendant a ‘c**t’

Over 400 complaints about judges and magistrates making allegedly “inappropriate comments” were received by the judicial watchdog last year, according to new figures.

However, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office’s (JCIO) 2016/17 annual report reveals that the vast majority of complaints it received were either “not accepted for investigation” or “dismissed”. Just 42 of this year’s grievances (2%) resulted in disciplinary action being taken.

The JCIO received 2,126 complaints in total, compared to 2,609 in 2015/16 (down 19%). The top complaint category was judicial decisions (1,220), with inappropriate behaviour/comments accounting for 427. Other notable complaint categories include conflicts of interest (13), financial fraud (five) and misuse of judicial status (four).

A breakdown of complaints by judicial office shows the district bench was on the receiving end of the lion’s share (944 complaints). The circuit bench (including recorders) clocked up 590, while the High Court and the Court of Appeal attracted 122 and 63 complaints respectively.

The new research also shows the outcome of the 42 complaints that the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice decided to take action on. A total of 19 judges or magistrates were removed from office, 11 were issued with formal advice, eight were reprimanded and four were given a formal warning.

One of the more eye-catching complaint stories from 2016 came courtesy of Judge Patricia Lynch QC.

Last summer, Legal Cheek reported that the circuit judge was branded a “c**t” by a defendant as she was delivering her sentencing remarks. In a move that attracted widespread media attention, Chelmsford Crown Court judge Lynch responded:

You are a bit of a c**t yourself. Being offensive to me doesn’t help.

Earlier this year, the JCIO confirmed that it would not be taking formal disciplinary action against Lynch.

Read the report in full below:

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