10 Aug 2022

The day the solicitors got ordered about in Naas Courthouse


Roles reversed in Naas Courthouse as solicitors told what to do

Naas Courthouse

The world was turned on its head at Naas Sistrict Court last week; even though it doesn't signal the emergence of a new world order.  

For once it was the officers of the court; the solicitors, barristers,  gardai and  even the sole probation officer on duty, who got told what to do.

It was they who were ordered about.

The Covid-19 outbreak has wrought many changes and much turbulence in a very short time.

And at Naas Courthouse, a court staff member more or less instructed them where to sit, so that the social distancing protocols would be observed.

Normally it’s the defendants, sometimes arriving or leaving (often both times) in handcuffs, who have to obey the rules like being told where to sit and when to speak.

Even the witnesses have to observe the court rules.

But on Wednesday the ten or so solicitors, who outnumbered the gardai on duty, were told where they could sit; basically two seat spaces apart with a row between them.

And they spread about the confined space of the courtroom like the black square spaces on an empty  crossword puzzle grid.

If there is a redemptive arc to the coronavirus it’s not yet visible.

So, the normally busy court sitting more or less adjourned itself to a date in early June.

The 13 page court list and its  approximately 190 1 cases got itself postponed for the better part of three months.

This was   because there are obvious risks these days to having well over a hundred people assembled in a medium sized field, never mind a poorly ventilated court building. The pile of papers in front of one of the two gardai dealing with the business of the (half) day was equally misleading. 

There were four  mounds of paper  and if amalgamated into one, it  would have scaled the dizzy heights of maybe two feet from the surface of the bench.

There wasn’t much to be learned here on Wednesday last; not about  the run of the mill crime life of County Kildare.

Only a few cases were mentioned at all before the day ended. One concerned a woman, who is in the Dóchas Centre (a women's prison),  but is also in isolation because of the virus fears and because there was uncertainty about when this would end, her case was put back for a week. 

Although rarely used, there is  video technology  in Naas Courthouse linking it with some prisons, like Cloverhill, but there is no connection between it and the  Dóchas centre.

Another case, also adjourned until June, concerned a man found in the vicinity of  €9,000 worth of drugs and €2,000 in cash, at an address in Kilcock.

A further case revolved around a man being investigated for a dangerous driving allegation near Naas and this too was adjourned.

“Alcohol may have had a role in this, but we don’t know yet,” said Sgt Jim Kelly.

Most of those due to turn up at the court were advised in advance not to and they will be told now about the adjourned date.

Sometimes if a defendant does not appear  and is not represented by anyone else, the judge will issue a warrant which allows the gardai to arrest the person, often by arrangement.

But Judge Zaidan said he would not be issuing warrants “because (of the virus) the State is telling people not to attend courthouses.” 

The only good thing about the next normal day at Naas Courthouse will be that the virus has been permanently adjourned. 

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