Todd v Judge Murphy, DPP, Ireland & Attorney General

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeLynch, J.,Lynch J.
Judgment Date01 Jan 1999
Neutral Citation[1998] IESC 46
Docket Number[1997 No.

[1998] IESC 46

THE SUPREME COURT

Hamilton, C.J.

O'Flaherty, J.

Murphy, J.

Lynch, J.

Barron, J.

Record No. 141/1998
TODD v. JUDGE MURPHY, DPP, IRELAND & ATTORNEY GENERAL

BETWEEN

DAVID TODD
Applicants/Appellant

AND

HIS HONOUR JUDGE A.G. MURPHY THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLICPROSECUTIONS IRELAND AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Respondents

Citations:

COURTS & COURT OFFICERS ACT 1995 S32(1)

IRVIN V DOWD 366 US 751

TORMEY V IRELAND 1985 IR 289

D V DPP 1994 2 IR 465, 1994 1 ILRM 435

Z V DPP 1994 2 IR 476, 1994 2 ILRM 481

CONSTITUTION ART 38.5

KEEGAN, STATE V STARDUST COMPENSATION TRIBUNAL 1986 IR 642

COURTS OF JUSTICE ACT 1924 S54

COURTS ACT 1964 S6

COURTS ACT 1981 S31

BOYLE, STATE V NEYLON 1986 IR 551

HUNT, STATE V O'DONOVAN 1975 IR 39

MURPHY V BAYLISS UNREP SUPREME 22.7.1976 1976/7/1094

Synopsis

Judicial Review

Judicial review; Constitution; fair procedures; publicity; road traffic offence; mandamus; certiorari; two pedestrians killed by the dangerous driving of a car allegedly driven by appellant without consent of the owner; Circuit Court refused application for transfer of trial from Cork Circuit to Dublin Circuit; whether there was a serious risk that the jury would be prejudiced; whether refusal to transfer trial was irrational and contrary to fundamental reason and common sense; s. 32(1), Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995 Held: Decision of Circuit Court Judge was not contrary to fundamental reason or common sense; application rejected (Todd v. Judge Murphy - Supreme Court: Hamilton C.J., O'Flaherty J., Murphy J., Lynch J., Barron J. - 20/11/1998 - [1999] 1 ILRM 261)

Constitutional Law

Constitution; invalidity; unappealability; decision under s. 32(1) concerning transfer of trials to Dublin Circuit Court not appealable; whether Constitution infringed; whether presumption of constitutionality was rebutted; s. 32(1) Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995; Arts 34,38,40 Constitution Held: If s. 32(1) was found to be constitutional, no power would exist for transferring trial to Dublin Circuit Court; appellant has no locus standi to challenge constitutionality; appeal dismissed (Todd v. Judge Murphy - Supreme Court: Hamilton C.J., O'Flaherty J., Murphy J., Lynch J., Barron J. - 20/11/1998 - [1999] 1 ILRM 261)

There is no right of appeal at common law. Under Article 34.3.4 of the Constitution, any right of appeal has to be provided by statute. If an applicant cannot benefit from the striking down of a statute, he has no locus standi to bring his application. In this case, the appellant had appeared in Cork Circuit Criminal Court, charged with dangerous driving causing death. The first-named respondent refused an application for the trial to be transferred to Dublin, pursuant to s.32(1) of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995. s.32(1) of the Act provides that such a decision shall be final and unappealable.The appellant claimed that Article 34.3.4 of the Constitution required a right of appeal from original decisions of the Circuit Court. The court, in dismissing the appeal, ruled that if the unappealability of s.32(1) were struck down, there would be no right of appeal, because none was provided by the remainder of the section. If the whole of the section were struck down, there would be no power to transfer the appellant's trial to Dublin. The appellant could not therefore benefit from the striking down of all or part of the section, and so had no locus standi to maintain his appeal.

Judicial review is concerned with the way in which proceedings are conducted; it is not another form of appeal against a decision with which an applicant does not agree. Judicial review is not concerned with whether a decision was right or wrong, unless the decision flies in the face of fundamental reason and common sense. In this case, the appellant appeared in Cork Circuit Criminal Court on charges of dangerous driving causing death. The first-named respondent refused an application for the trial to be transferred to Dublin, pursuant to s.32(1) of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995. The judge said he did not believe that a jury, properly charged, would allow any prejudice to influence them. The Supreme Court, dismissing the appeal, held that the appellant did not challenge the way in which the application was conducted, but only the alleged irrationality of the decision. In this case, the decision of the Circuit Court was not only reasoned, but also reasonable.

1

JUDGMENT delivered the 20th day of November1998,by Lynch, J. [NEM]

2

This is an appeal from the judgment of the High Court (Geoghegan J.) delivered the 29th of April 1998 refusing the Applicant/Appellant relief by way of judicial review of an order made on the 11th November 1997 by the first respondent the Circuit Court judge for the country and city of Cork. The reliefsought by way of judicial review included declarations that a trial of the appellant before a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on charges of manslaughter and dangerous driving causing death and other ancillary road traffic offences would be unjust and would violate the appellants constitutional right to fair procedures and for orders of prohibition of such a trial, certiorari of the order of the Circuit Court of the 11th November 1997 and mandamus requiring the first respondent to transfer the trial of the appellant to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

3

The background to the case is that on the 17th of March 1997 two young male pedestrians were knocked down and killed in Cork city by a motorcar allegedly driven by the appellant without the consent of the owner and driven dangerously causing the said accident and deaths. Following the said incident there was great publicity and outery in the media and generally: a protest March took place in Cork: and the Appellant's and his mother's home where he lived was stoned and windows werebroken.

4

The appellant was charged as already mentioned and ultimately returned for trial to the Cork Circuit Criminal Court. Before the trial an application was made on the 11th of November 1997 for a transfer of the trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court pursuant to s.32 (1) of the Courts and Court Officers Act 1995which provides:-

"(1) where a person (in this section referred to as the accused) has been sent forward for trial to the Circuit Court, sitting other than within the Dublin Circuit, the judge of the Circuit Court before whom the accused is triable may, on the application of the prosecutor or the accused, if satisfied that it would be manifestly unjust not to do so, transfer the trial to the Circuit Court sitting within the Dublin Circuit and the decision to grant or refuse the application shall be final and unappealable."

5

A transcript of the application to the learned Circuit Court judge was exhibited and his ruling on the application as appears from the said transcript was as follows:-

"Well there has been extensive publicity about this case some time ago. This arises out of what is commonly known as "joyriding", and as far as one can judge, that is a difficulty. It is a notorious crime and a high profile crime, which is just as prevalent in Dublin as it is in Cork, and I don't think that the people of Dublin would have any different view on it from the people inCork."

"Now the position is that if the jury panel involved was largely drawn from the same section of the city as the place in which the people involved in this matter reside, I might take a certain view. I have had a look at the jury panel, not the current one, but the one coming in next week, and it is very largely drawn from other Cork city suburbs and deep into County Cork. I cannot see that a jury drawn from persons in those areas, properly charged would allow any prejudice to influence them, and I do not think that the prospect of an unfair trial exists in the matter, or exists to a greater extent in Cork than it would in Dublin. I am therefore refusing theapplication."

6

In his judgment of the 29th April 1998 the learned High Court judge quoted the second paragraph of the learned Circuit Court judge's ruling which I have just quoted above and then he continued as follows:-

"In that ruling he took into account the fact that he had examined the jury panel and that it would not come from the same area in Cork, where the two victims came from. In fact it was drawn from other Cork city suburbs and County Cork and he did not think that a jury properly charged would result in a manifestly unfair trial.This section gives no right to Dublin people...

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