Defence barrister fined £1,000 for ‘pulling faces’ at judge

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She also described a decision as ‘insane’

An experienced barrister has been slapped with a £1,000 fine for acting in a “rude and unprofessional manner” towards a judge — at one point even “pulling faces”.

Marguerite Russell was instructed as counsel for the defence during a three-month trial in 2016 when she is said to have interrupted her opponent’s submissions and failed to sit down when asked to do so by the judge.

A Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS) panel also found that Russell had shouted at the judge and/or talked over counsel, and said “this is ridiculous” following a ruling by the judge in response to the submission she had made.

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During the same trial, Russell again interrupted and/or argued with the judge when she refused to accede to a submission she had made, and described the decision as “insane”.

Russell, who was called to bar 1972, also pulled faces at the judge and acted in manner that led to her being told to sit down by the judge.

The tribunal found that she had engaged in conduct which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in a barrister or in the profession. Russell was reprimanded and fined £1,000.

The decision is open to appeal.

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I had a judge pulling faces at me in court once, it would have been interesting to see if the JCIO would have fined him £1,000.



I’ve known much the same from barristers when confronted about sexist or racist behaviour.



In open court?



They save the worst stuff for pro bono offices, recruitment, conversations at Inn events and just about anywhere else.

Doesn’t make it any less horrible.



So not in open court then.



Ok, 11.56 implied it wasn’t in open court. What were the sexist and racist comments made by the barrister in each case?


Is this the one that was called a “stupid woman”, allegedly, and then went through a raft of disciplinary processes that found against her?

Black Lives Matter

Not an allegation of a BAME volunteer being called a ‘stupid woman’ – the barrister was disciplined by FRU for bullying and ordered to write an apology. The barrister was also reported to the police by the volunteer for stalking, racial harassment and continual begging to be their ‘friend’.

Type your email and the barrister’s apology letter will be gladly sent to you.

Anyone including all Black and other BAME students are strongly advised to approach the Education Department of their Inn of Court for pro bono help regarding racial and/or sexual harassment by BPTC students, pupil barristers and others outside the Code of Conduct.

The Inns are an incredible resource and care a lot more about your safety than many other people ever will.


You always try to shoehorn the same pro bono comments into unrelated articles.
Why not make a formal complaint instead?


Big Bellied Barrister

Quiet you!!! I need places to access pretty students, without any fear of reprimand because everyone else working there shares an A Level between them.

Have you seen what the women in my chambers look like???!


Interrupting and over-talking is a skill. It can stop a decent submission of the other side in mid flow or let you put the knife in at exactly the right moment. It is rude. So? You get ticked of by the judge? So what if the strategy worked. And it can really unhinge certain opponents. And pulling faces and making comments can be markers, conscious or subconscious to the judge and jury about fairness. And this was a jury trial, so who cares what the judge thinks?


Oxbridge Grad

Ah, the Union Society has taught you well! ??



I watched a case in the admin court where counsel for the applicant falsely accused the government’s solicitor of trying to do this to him. He said the solicitor was silently laughing while covering his mouth. The judge got pretty angry at counsel for coming up with something so ridiculous


Old Timer

Let’s not forget that a lot of this kind of stuff emanates from the bench and always has, so the judiciary hardly set a great example, whilst sledging and destabilising one’s opponent has been part of the playbook. But this is yet another example of the Legal Regulators going over the top, though it is not nearly as worrying as the concerted and ongoing attempt by both sides of the profession’s regulators to use their powers to invade people’s private lives. All very Orwellian.


Madness, I tells ya

Well said.

It’s completely Orwellian for a professional regulator to stop solicitors getting drunk and sleeping with younger colleagues.

If I want to cheat on my wife, I should be able to do so easily with someone at work and have everyone stand up and clap once I’m done.

Christ, what’s the world coming to these days?



Actually, it is. They’re a professional regulator not a moral tut-tutter. The colleague’s age is irrelevant.



Do you realise you’ve just said that the SRA or BSB should be involved in any instance of sex between two lawyers after some wine?



It did not emanate from the bench and the pulling of faces was the tip of the iceberg. Not sure it is wise to comment if you don’t know what went on in that now infamous trial. See Barkauskas.doc EWCA (2017). That judgement gives a clearer picture than this headline.



Which comment said that it emanated from the bench in this case?



This happened in 2016, and she’s been free to take on more court advocacy until now???

No wonder the Bar has so many problems with badly behaved barristers if it takes FOUR YEARS to reprimand one.



What problems does it have?



A fraction of people dare to report bad behaviour because they are worried it’ll cost them pupillage and £40,000 down the drain, a fraction of incidents that do get reported get taken seriously, a fraction of those incidents get passed on to the BSB even when it is a requirement to do so, a fraction of those are looked into in depth by the handful of people at the BSB and a fraction of those get a full hearing.

Do you need me to draw you a diagram to explain why people not saints by virtue of whoever gave them a training position?



Not a diagram, just a description of the problems and bad behaviour.



And what exactly will you do with such detailed particulars?

Call them all ‘allegations’, then print the pages out to wipe with?


No, use them to decide whether the accusations are true or not. So far I’m saying not.

Just Anonymous

I detest this sort of conduct.

In my experience, most barristers do not behave this way. Most are polite, dignified and courteous, which is how it should be.

There are good reasons not to behave like this. Firstly, it doesn’t persuade anyone. I have never seen a judge look remotely impressed or persuaded by such conduct. Rather, with varying degrees of amusement and irritation, I have seen judges simply tell counsel to let their opponent speak or to otherwise calm down.

Secondly, and similarly, you only make yourself look bad. No-one likes bullies, and this sort of conduct only makes you look like a bully. It also makes your case look weak: after all, if your case is correct, then why not just wait patiently for your turn to speak and then, when it is your turn, calmly demolish the other side with reason, facts and logic. Not doing that, but instead trying to silence and shout over your opponent (and/or the judge) merely invokes the principle so wonderfully expressed by George RR Martin:

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”



You can detest it, but bullying by barristers happens everyday.

I’ve seen barristers scream at people all the time, including barking at a 16 year old mini-pupil to ask if they dropped chewing gum on the floor, when of course they hadn’t.

I’ve never seen anyone else brave enough to actually confront them over their behaviour. Would you do so if you saw it happening in front of you?!



That’s disgusting



Did you confront the barking barrister?



Who takes in a 16 year old as a Mini-Pupil‽


And the barristers give their kids minis too

When the Head of Chambers sends his daughter to your school’s prep department



“Firstly”? Not a barrister.


Little Brother

The BSB is the Stasi


Know it

Real piece of work



This may well be ‘news’ here, but it happens all the time in the USA. In fact, it’s normal, accepted court room behaviour there.



We’re not in the US… Yet!


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