By Gabriel Princewill-
A High Court judge is facing his third disciplinary action over late sentencing for judgments he had given.
The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirmed that The Honourable Mr Justice Timothy King had been subject to an investigation about two other complaints in relation to a ‘severe delay’ in producing a judgment, but would not reveal what the most recent complaint was about. The Eye Of Media.Com has put in a freedom of Information Request to demand the details of the latest case because it is in the public interest that the judicial operations of judges are transparent and above board, as well as the findings of any scrutiny or investigations.
Disciplinary action against serving judges are uncommon. Only four members of the courts judiciary have been sanctioned in a five year period, according to the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office. One was reprimanded and the three were removed. Judicial delays led to nine complaints in the 2016/17 period, the judicial Conduct Investigation said.
A High Court Judge are expected to deliver judgments within a reasonable time frame, but Justice King has been late in delivering judgments twice already, in what potentially questions his professional competence. However, The Eye Of Media,Com has been informed from reliable sources that Justice King is a bright and competence judge . He is also an Oxford graduate was called to the bar in 1973 and took silk in 1991.
Mr Justice King had previously received two previous warnings for delayed judgments. The JCIO said: ‘However, after carefully considering mitigation offered by Mr Justice King, including a serious family illness, it was decided he should be issued with a further reprimand’.
‘The Lord Chief Justice has also directed that arrangements be put in place to prevent further delays to Mr Justice King’s judgments between now and his retirement in April 2019.’
In one of Mr Justice King’s most recent cases, Sherratt v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, more than a year passed between the hearing date and the judgment in July 2018. The grievance of the complainant was significant because it related to the death of his partner who had self harmed before the police arrived despite the call controller promising an immediate attendance of police.
The defendant of the case was the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police. The call was made at 6.44 pm on Sunday 29th of January, but they did not arrive until 10.19 pm that night, only to meet a quiet dark house. They were eventually let in the next morning, but it was too late. A finding of negligence in a case as serious and emotive like this should not have taken a year before punitive measures were meted out.
A finding of negligence had been found against Greater Manchester Police by the courts. The grounds was on the existence of a duty of care by the police given specific assurances that police officers would be promptly dispatched. This was an assurance the complainant relied upon and which placed a duty upon the police. Due to the late arrival of the police, the deceased took her own life with an overdose of Amitriptyline medication. The Chief Constable of Grater Manchester appealed the decision, and Justice King took took more than a year to make his ruling.
In another case, TW (A Child) v Royal Bolton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Mr Justice King made the judgment in December 2017, after the hearing had finished in October 2016- 2 months shy of a year! The time lapse between the hearing dates and the ruling in both cases is too long and raises issues of concern.
The first relates to his competence as a judge in delivering verdicts within a reasonable period. Another is whether in the time between the verdict and the sentence, the judge may be open to other influences that determine his final ruling. Furthermore, it is unfair on litigants faced with important cases to them if no reasonable time limit for a ruling is ascertainable.
The Eye Of Media.Com is probing the reason for these type of delays in judgment and why they are allowed to happen. The judicial Conduct Investigation Office as well as legal experts have promised to assist our probe for the purposes of gaining insight into what goes on in the corridors of justice, in order to inform the public and propose remedies.