Written by, Oisin O'Cathain Chief Justice Placement Intern 2023
It was an honour to be nominated for the Chief Justice Placement Programme. My gratitude to the faculty at Griffith College is enormous. I thank you all for placing your trust in me. I relished every minute.
The programme began with an induction and tour of the Four Courts. The Chief Justice introduced himself and welcomed us accompanied by his energetic and accommodating assistants of Lucy and Rebecca, who were a constant source of guidance.
In the schedule, we had assigned time with our judge interspersed with ‘in conversations’ given by a select and knowledgeable group of speakers. These included Tom O’Malley, Justice Woolfe, Griffith’s Cormac Hickey, and Irish Times legal reporter Mary Carolan. Each was informative and delivered an invaluable insight into the broader law world within the specifics of their experience.
The first week we had an invitation to a dinner in Blackhall Place organised by Fordham University. Never one to shirk from a formal occasion I thoroughly enjoyed the regalia and introductions. Speaking to colleagues from this land and the States was very enjoyable whilst I also engaged with the 2 professors from UCD at my table.
Along with the initial tour of the Four Courts the participants were shown through the CCJ and the Drug Treatment Court. The latter of which was the location I witnessed a double graduation.
To see perennial offenders who through circumstances have been embroiled in drug abuse being treated with such compassion and support not only by the judiciary but the social workers, key workers, probation officers and Gardai was emotionally poignant.
That coupled with the respect and appreciation evident in those taking part and especially the two gentlemen graduating was an eye-opening, humbling, and deeply satisfactory insight.
The Hardiman lecture series started with a bang, of intellect and entertainment. Justice Charleton was the orchestrator of the 1st lecture and much of the programme, which I understood through speaking with guest speakers.
The lecture was on the trial of Robert Emmet held in the picturesque Green Street courthouse; it was riveting.
The other Hardiman lectures included Remy Farrell SC and Margaret Gray. They involved substantial detail which I soaked up, albeit less of the theatrics and props as the 1st lecture.
The Judge I was assigned to was Justice McCarthy, he is an erudite and engaging man with clear distinctions in what he considers yet is in no way blinkered.
The other participants consisted of very clever and wonderfully diverse members. Interacting and building relationships was a gradual process as some of us were primarily concentrated in the CCJ with others in the Four Courts.
There were informal events organised through the group WhatsApp which I didn’t shy away from but kept within limits.
Stating that I did form relationships and networked accordingly and have contacts here and in America thanks to the programme.
A trifecta of mediation and alternative resolution occurred over the month with the last of which particularly enlivened.
It would be remiss of me not to mention witnessing Bowman SC in the CCA enunciating 7 points of appeal in the higher threshold of complexity over a period of 2 ½ hours. Seeing lunch approaching Bowman concluded in 3 minutes. It was a rare privilege to be able to view, whilst considering if at some juncture in the future I could be capable of that fluidity, composure, and expertise.
In conclusion I have witnessed and gained an insight into court procedure and the background workings of the courts. I have made contacts with numerous highly intelligent and motivated individuals.
Lastly, I have memories that will stay with me. It was an honour and privilege to be involved.