Coughlan v District Justice Patwell

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMrs. Justice Denham
Judgment Date01 January 1993
Neutral Citation1992 WJSC-HC 128
Docket Number[1990 No. 207 J.R.],No. 207/1990
CourtHigh Court
Date01 January 1993
COUGHLAN v. PATWELL
JUDICIAL REVIEW

BETWEEN

WILLIAM COUGHLAN
APPLICANT

AND

DISTRICT JUSTICE PATWELL AND DIRECTOR OF PUBLICPROSECUTIONS
RESPONDENTS

1992 WJSC-HC 128

No. 207/1990

THE HIGH COURT

Synopsis:

CONSTITUTION

Courts

Administration of justice - District Court - Jurisdiction - Exercise - Failure - Trial of offence - Defendant's submissions - Interruption - Refusal to hear submission that constitutional rights infringed - Failure to rule submission - Conviction - Duty of court of limited jurisdiction - (1990/207 JR - Denham J. - 14/11/91) - [1993] 1 I.R. 31 - [1992] ILRM 808

SCoughlan v. Patwell|

CONSTITUTION

Personal rights

Fair procedures - Offence - Charge - Trial - District Court - Procedure - Error - Defence submissions - Acquittal - Prosecution not opened - Court's failure to exercise jurisdiction - Acquittal quashed - Remittal of proceedings - (1990/207 JR - Denham J. - 14/11/91) - [1993] 1 I.R. 31 - [1992] ILRM 808

|Coughlan v. Patwell|

DISTRICT COURT

Jurisdiction

Exercise - Failure - Offence - Trial - Fair procedures - Submissions of defendant - Interruption - Refusal to hear submission that constitutional rights infringed - Failure to rule submission - Conviction - Duty of court of limited jurisdiction - (1990/207 JR - Denham J. - 14/11/91) - [1993] 1 I.R. 31 - [1992] ILRM 808

|Coughlan v. Patwell|

JUDICIAL REVIEW

Certiorari

Offence - Conviction - Annulment - District Court - Order made outside jurisdiction - Refusal to hear submission that constitutional rights infringed - Order null and void - Defendant not in jeopardy - High Court - Discretion - Proceedings remitted to District Court - Rules of the Superior Courts, 1986, order 84, r. 26(4) - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Articles 34, 40 - (1990/207 JR - Denham J. - 14/11/91) - 1993 1 I.R. 31 1992 ILRM 808

|Coughlan v. Patwell|

Citations:

ROAD TRAFFIC ACTS

CONSTITUTION ART 40.5

CONSTITUTION ART 34

HEALY, STATE V DONOGHUE 1976 IR 325

HAUGHEY, IN RE 1971 IR 217

ELLIS V O'DEA 1989 IR 530

DPP, PEOPLE V LYNCH 1982 IR 64

MCFADDEN V GOVERNOR OF MOUNTJOY 1981 ILRM 113

DPP, STATE V KENNY 1990 ILRM 569

DPP V CLEIN 1981 ILRM 465, 1983 ILRM 76

CONSTITUTION ART 34.5

CONSTITUTION ART 38.1

RSC O.84 r26(4)

CONSTITUTION ART 38

1

Judgment of Mrs. Justice Denhamdelivered on the 14th day of November, 1991.

2

The is an application for an order of certiorari by way of judicial review of six orders and convictions made by the first named respondent in proceedings entitled: "Prosecutor: Director of Public Prosecutions, Accused: William Coughlan," at the Dublin Metropolitan District Court, Dolphin House, on 6th March 1990. Leave to apply was granted by Mr. Justice Johnson on 15th October, 1990.

3

Counsel on behalf of the applicant, informed the Court that the applicant had drafted his own case and that there was material in the pleadings which he would not press. Counsel stated that he was pursuing the judicial review on grounds (a) and (b), which were really one ground. Thus theground for determination in this Court is:

4

"The summonses herein contained information regarding the identity of the accused/applicant which information was wrongfully obtained; the applicant was refused an opportunity to argue the legality of the said summonses at the District Court hearing."

5

The facts in the case are set out in the affidavits of the applicant sworn on 3rd September 1990, 2nd January 1991 and 14th January 1991; the affidavit of Garda Paul Kiernan sworn on 5th December 1990, the affidavit of Mary Feerick sworn on 5th December 1990, and the affidavit of Garda Patrick McHugh sworn on 23rd January 1991. There was no cross examination of any deponent even though the applicant had served notice to cross examine the Gardai and they were in Court.

Facts
6

On 6th March 1990 the applicant appeared before the first named respondent in answer to seven summonses alleging offences under the Road Traffic Acts. The applicant wished to make a submission at the commencement of the case that his name and address as appeared on the summonses was obtained in deliberate and conscious breach of his rights under the Constitution. He wished to submit that his name and address had been obtained by the Gardai in two deliberate and conscious breaches by the Gardai of the inviolability of his dwelling in breach of Article 40.5 and 34 of the Constitution. The first named respondent did not permit himto make this submission. The first named respondent advised the applicant that any application with regard to his constitutional rights should be made in the first instance to the High Court. He told the applicant not to waste the time of the Court with irrelevantmatters.

Submissions
7

Counsel on behalf of the applicant submitted that the applicant herein wished to inform the District Court that there had been a breach of his constitutional rights in acquiring information which appeared on the summonses, namely his name and address. He argued that the District Justice by refusing to hear the applicant's submissions, and by refusing to consider the constitutional position of the applicant, misdirected himself as to his function. That the District Court is a constitutional Court under the Constitution and must and does act in accordance with the Constitution. That consequently it must act in such a way as to protect the individual's constitutional rights. Mr. Carney, S.C., as he was then, submitted that the first named respondent should have listened to the applicant's submission as to the alleged breaches of his constitutional rights. That by declining to consider the matter the proceedings were constitutionally flawed and a nullity, and the affidavits of the Gardai herein cannot cure the position. Mr. Carney referred to State (Healy) v. Donoghue 1976 IR 325; In ReHaughey 1971 IR 217; Ellis v. O'Dea 1989 IR 530; People v. Lynch 1982 IR 64; McFadden v. Governor ofMountjoy 1981 ILRM 113; State (DPP)v. Kenny, unreported judgment of the Supreme Court, 20th March,1990.

8

Mr. O'Caoimh, on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, submitted that the issue before the Court related to objections to the summonses. He stated that the summonses were vehicles to get an accused person to Court. That if the accused was infact before the Court he could not then object to the summons. That the submissions of the applicant related solely to the summonses. But that infact if one reads the affidavits of the Gardai filed that there is no indication that the applicant's constitutional rights were infact violated. That the District Justice was right that if the applicant wished to challenge the process that he would have had to go to the High Court. Mr. O'Caoimh pointed out that the applicant had delayed (nearly six months) in seeking this order, that infact the onus was on the applicant and that he had failed to meet it, and that it was a discretionary remedy.

Law
9

The law is clear that a summons is a process, a vehicle, to obtain the presence of an accused before the Court. In D.P.P. v. Clein, 1981 ILRM 465, at page 468, Gannon J. stated:-

"When a defendant, as in this case, to whom a summons has been addressed and issued for service, attends in court with solicitor and counsel representing him and submits to the jurisdiction of the court and to thehearing by the court of...

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