HC Deb 05 March 1885 vol 295 cc118-9

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If the attention of the Irish Government has been called to an incident at the Kilrush, county Clare, Quarter Sessions, on the 2nd January last, as follows: In the case of The Queen v. Ryan (for larceny) the Defendant pleaded "not guilty" The long panel was called and a jury empanelled, case tried, and jury discharged on disagreement. Immediately after, the County Court Judge resumed the cases of action in Civil Bill Court, when a litigated case of O'Brien v. M'Grath was called on. One of the witnesses for Defendant was John Griffin, of Querrin, a farmer, and one of the jurors who served in the case of The Queen v. Ryan. Immediately after he gave his evidence in the civil case the County Court Judge, addressing him, said "Come now, tell me, were you not a juror in Ryan's case, just tried?"—Answer: "I was, Sir;" Judge: "Were you for convicting or acquitting him?"—Answer: "I was for letting him free;" if, in questioning a juror with regard to what transpired in the jury room, Mr. Kelly did not exceed his right; if it is not a fact that, upon at least one previous occasion, the Lords Justices have called upon Mr. Kelly for an explanation of his conduct as Judge; and, if in this instance similar inquiry will be made, in order to stop a dangerous and unconstitutional proceeding?


This Question has been referred to the County Court Judge for his observations, and he writes as follows:— Sir,—In reply to your letter of yesterday, I beg to state that I did substantially ask the question referred to in the Parliamentary Notice of which you enclosed me a copy. I did so not seriously, nor with the view of requiring any answer. The witness, to the amusement of the crowd in Court, immediately replied that ho did not know the meaning of the words 'acquittal' or 'conviction,' but that 'he was for setting the man free.' The question and answer had no bearing or effect upon the result of either the criminal case in which Griffin was a juror or of the civil case in which he was a witness. It would have been better if this incident had not occurred; but I think it may not unreasonably be regarded as a jocular interlude, in an unguarded moment, between the Judge and the witness, and that it is not a matter in which the Executive can further interfere.