How (not) to address a Judge


It will come as no surprise to you to learn that most people who appear before a judge in Ireland address that person as ‘Your Honour’. I’ve always put it down to the amount of American television we are so fortunate to watch.

For a long time in Ireland all judges were referred to as ‘my lord’, an affectation that annoyed many people given that it had simply been taken directly from English practice (where many judges were, in fact, lords). That address didn’t do much for female judges either, and God help anyone who called a female judge ‘my lady’.

The practice has moved on somewhat and nowadays we all try to simply address the judge as ‘Judge’, which seems eminently logical and reasonable.

I’m quite sure, as the mode of address gets a little more casual, and as the regalia of lawyers becomes a little bit more normal, and as the persons appearing before courts start to feel that little bit more equal to the judge, we might start to see the mode of address of judges becoming a little more, shall we say, adventurous.

In the USA, by way of example, things have gotten a little out of hand sometimes. It isn’t just lay-litigants either. Arizona lawyer Tajudeen Oladiran saw fit to file a motion “for a (sic) honest and honorable court system”. He described the trial judge as ‘the dishonorable Susan R. Bolton’ and specified that his motion was filed ‘pursuant to the law of what goes around comes around’. He then proceeded to call the judge a

‘brainless coward’

Motion of Tajudeen Oladiran – View on Scribd

Going one step further was lay-litigant Paul Hupp who filed a petition in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit calling the judges

‘slime ball, piece of sh*t, ass clown judges’

Motion of Paul Hupp – View on Scribd

Last, but certainly not least, is Deborah E. Frisch, Ph.D (!), who filed papers in Oregon District Court describing a judge as ‘the frocked cowfu**er in San Francisco’. The three page document is worth a read just for pure entertainment value, and is closed out in the following terms:-

“Litigant will file notice of appeal to the supreme court of the fraudulent judgment by cowfu**er kozinski’s whores next week. Litigant might wait until Monday to act on allegations above.  But litigant might not. You never know what this litigant’s gonna do.”

Motion of Deborah Frisch – View on Scribd

For the record, and for those of you who think the above tactics were wise, I should point out that in each of the three cases the litigants had already lost and were simply venting some of their rage by filing these motions.

It really wasn’t a good idea, Judge.

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