Wednesday, 2 June 2004
Removal of Judge from Office: Motion.
"That Seanad Éireann, pursuant to Standing Order No. 60A,
1. Noting the following information from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform:
(a) that the Garda Síochána in August 2001, on receipt of information from Interpol obtained by the United States Postal Inspection Service during a search of premises in Fort Worth, Texas, concerning details of alleged customers of a company offering access to child pornography websites, commenced an operation in relation to persons allegedly so identified from this jurisdiction,
(b) that these details included the names, passwords and credit card and charge card details of certain persons,
(c) that one of the persons from this jurisdiction so named was a Brian Curtin, 35 Ashe Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry, and that subsequent enquiries indicated that this person was Brian Curtin, Judge of the Circuit Court, with a home address of 24 Ard na Lí, Tralee, Co Kerry,
(d) that a warrant to search Judge Curtin's home under section 7 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 issued from the District Court on foot of an application by a member of the Garda Síochána on 20 May 2002,
(e) that Judge Curtin's home was subsequently searched on foot of the said warrant and that gardaí took possession of a personal computer and other material during the search,
(f) that an investigation file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions by the Garda authorities in October 2002 and that the Director of Public Prosecutions instructed that Judge Curtin be prosecuted for knowingly having in his possession child pornography contrary to section 6 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998,
(g) that the trial of the said charge commenced on 20 April 2004 at Tralee Circuit Court and that on 23 April 2004, Judge Curtin was found not guilty of that charge without evidence being given in relation to the subject matter of the charge, the Circuit Criminal Court having determined that the aforesaid warrant was spent when executed at the home of Judge Curtin; and
2. Calls for the removal, pursuant to Article 35.4 of the Constitution and section 39 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924, of His Honour Judge Brian Curtin, Judge of the Circuit Court, from office for stated misbehaviour, being his conduct in and in relation to subscribing to, accessing and use of websites containing child pornographic images and thereby rendering himself unsuitable to exercise the office of a Judge of the Circuit Court.
All of us are aware at this time that a responsibility of profound constitutional importance now falls to be discharged by this House, and has been discharged by the Dáil, namely our responsibility regarding the removal of members of the Judiciary for stated misconduct. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform earlier today put the motion on the record of the Dáil.
This House this morning adopted a report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges in the case of a motion calling for the removal of a judge for stated misbehaviour or incapacity. We can therefore be confident that we have adopted a set of procedures which will allow us to deal with this matter in a way which protects the constitutional rights to fair procedures and due process to which Judge Curtin is entitled.
Having regard to the information referred to above, I propose this motion pursuant to Seanad Standing Order 60A and move to adjourn this pursuant to paragraph (2) of Seanad Standing Order 60A.