Today’s High Court judgement from Ms. Justice Bolger has thrown significant doubt over criminal proceedings in District Courts nationwide.
The Judgement has stated that only a Garda who has initiated and conducted a District Court prosecution has the right of audience before the District Court. The ruling effectively ends the practices of a Court Presenting Sergeant carrying out prosecutions on the instruction of rank and file Gardaí.
Patrick Costello TD said: “This judgment will have a serious impact on the smooth running of the District Courts and has the potential to swamp Garda resources as only arresting Gardaí or State’s Solicitors will be permitted to prosecute criminal cases.”
Deputy Costello continued: “It has been the practise for many years for a Court Presenting Sergeant or a Garda Inspector to represent the Director of Public Prosecutions at District Court level. The arresting Garda rarely appears in court unless required as a witness. Regular Garda operations will be totally undermined if the Garda who initiated and conducted a prosecution must appear on behalf of the DPP where a state’s solicitor is not available”.
In conclusion Deputy Costello noted: “The government must consider the ramifications of this judgement immediately. There is a material risk that any case before the District Court prosecuted by a Court Presenting Sergeant or a Garda Inspector will be open to judicial review subsequent to today’s judgement.”