SCHULL resident Jules Thomas has failed in her application to have a different judge deal with her case.
The judge who presided over Ian Bailey’s failed action for damages against the Garda Commissioner and State, arising out of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, this week refused an application by Mr Bailey’s partner, Jules Thomas, to refrain from deciding any further matters in her separate action.
Mr Justice John Hedigan said Ms Thomas had made no grounds to support her claim that a reasonable person in her position would have a reasonable apprehension of objective bias on the judge’s part, arising from comments made by him last month regarding pre-trial matters in her case. Following his decision, he adjourned those matters for mention in early December.
Ms Thomas had asked Mr Justice Hedigan not to deal with any further matters in her case, including her pre-trial application to amend her claim, so as to allege fraud against the defendants, and to allege she was so traumatised by their alleged actions she was unable to bring her action, which relates to events in 1997 and 2000, until 2007.
The defendants are also advancing an issue, concerning whether large aspects of her claim, which includes claims of wrongful arrest in 1997 and 2000, are brought outside the time limits.
Making her application, Michael Lynn SC said Ms Thomas was concerned she may not get a full and impartial hearing. She also contended a reasonable person in similar circumstances to her would hold the same view.
The judge had said, from his experience of the Bailey case, he believed anything that could be done to shorten, or even fully strike out Ms Thomas’s case, should, if possible, be done. That was in the interests of all involved, including Ms Thomas, he added.
Other comments, including remarks Ms Thomas might face a ‘high hurdle in establishing she was entitled to amend her case now, were also used to ground the recusal application. It was not just important that justice be done, but also that it is seen to be done, and the court should err on the side of caution, Mr Lynn said.
Paul O’Higgins SC, for the defendants, argued there was no basis for arguing a reasonable apprehension of objective bias on the part of the judge. The comments must be seen in context, including the reality that the judge had been managing the cases of Mr Bailey and Ms Thomas for more than two years, he said.
Refusing the application, Mr Justice Hedigan said Ms Thomas had failed to show that a reasonable person would have a reasonable apprehension they would not get an impartial hearing before him of the pre-trial matters.