Judge Seamus Hughes left a packed courtroom in uncontrollable laughter last week when his presiding duties were likened to US television personalities Judge Judy Sheindlin and Judge Robert Rinder.
The Mayo born judge was reacting to mitigation which was offered up to the court in relation to a Longford pensioner who appeared before him recently on a public order charge.
Clara O’Beirne, 39 Lana Aoibhinn, Longford was charged with being intoxicated in a public place on November 18 2016.
As Ms O’Beirne took the witness stand, Judge Hughes light-heartedly asked why gardaí had to execute a bench warrant for her court appearance last Tuesday week.
After being told Ms O’Beirne was hard of hearing, Judge Hughes shouted into his microphone: “You didn’t come to see me?”
Ms O’Beirne replied in a low pitched voice: “I was a bit nervous.”
It was at that point defence solicitor Brid Mimnagh approached the witness box in a bid to assist Judge Hughes in his questioning of Ms O’Beirne.
“Will you go and seek help (for drinking tendencies) if the Judge says it?” Ms Mimnagh asked.
“Oh yeah, yeah,” came the short and succinct reply.
Ms Mimnagh added her client had, in the past worked in both RTÉ and Shannonside, but was now living alone.
She also told of Ms O’Beirne’s propensity for alcohol, saying drink had “got the better of her.”
Ms O’Beirne, who was accompanied in court by two members from her immediate family, supported Ms Mimnagh’s assessment when responding to Judge Hughes.
“I take a bit alright,” she said.
But it was when Ms Mimnagh attempted to continue with her mitigation that proceedings took a more comical tone.
Noting Ms O’Beirne’s employment history with various media outlets, Ms Mimnagh was told by her client that “news” programmes were her favourite items of choice on the TV.
“Do you watch Judge Judy?” Ms Mimnagh chuckled in a question which sparked a humourous retort from the District Number Nine judge.
“I run a serious court Ms Mimnagh,” he said.
“Anyway, it’s Judge Rinder now.”
In attempting to return matters to a more serious tone, Judge Hughes spared Ms O’Beirne a criminal conviction by applying Section 1 (1) of the Probation Act.
“It’s my first time meeting her,” he told the court, telling Ms O’Beirne also it was “lovely meeting you.”
As she stepped down from the witness box, Ms O’Beirne thanked the judge before amusingly shaking Ms Mimnagh’s hand, saying: “I hope I don’t meet you too often.”