Pretoria – Two judges, in separate cases, expressed in no uncertain terms their dissatisfaction with the behavior of which they had been accused as bailiffs by the parties involved in the cases before them.
A “rude” lawyer and an “obstructive” divorcee to-be received more than a slap in the face for their attitude towards the judges.
The lawyer got more than he bargained for when Gauteng High Court Pretoria Judge Bert Bam found him in contempt of court and slapped him with a 30,000 fine. Rand or 30 days in prison.
In the other case, Judge Nicolene Janse van Nieuwenhuizen ordered a woman in a divorce case to pay the full legal bill for missing two days of court, simply because the woman steadfastly refused to submit to a virtual audience.
In the divorce case, Judge Janse van Nieuwenhuizen began by citing the number of Covid-19 deaths in South Africa and around the world as it stood on the day she was due to hear the De Villiers vs. From Villiers.
“The virus has had an impact on all spheres of life, including justice. To ensure the efficient and safe functioning of the courts, the presiding judge of this division Dunstan Mlambo has issued directives to try to combat the spread of the virus in the courts, in particular by authorizing virtual hearings.
“This method has the obvious advantage of limiting the chances of exposure – i.e. all people whose appearance / presence is relevant to said legal process, whether they are judges, court personnel, legal fraternities, witnesses, interested parties or the media – unnecessarily to contract the virus. “
Judge Janse van Nieuwenhuizen said the virtual hearing was very efficient as there was a screen right in front of a judge. “Every wink, every contraction of the mouth, whether the witness looks sideways, downwards or directly into the camera, is observed up close.
So, since she was assigned the divorce hearing, the judge informed the parties that the hearing would be virtual.
“The aforementioned method has been used by this tribunal since the start of the pandemic, without any problem. This method of hearing ensures that questions in disputes are conducted correctly and safely, ”said the judge.
At first, both parties to the divorce insisted on a public hearing. Mr De Villiers’ camp finally saw the reason and accepted a virtual procedure. But Mme De Villiers had set foot on the ground. She wanted to see her ex-husband in court and that was it.
No reasoning on the part of the judge, his lawyer or anyone else could influence him.
“While the complainant is not concerned about the risks involved in appearing in an ‘open’ court, her decision exposes her own legal team, the defendant and her legal team, myself, my secretary and other members. judicial personnel who will have to be in court, at the risk of contracting the virus. By assessing the different competing interests, the position of the complainant can only be described as selfish, ”said the judge.
As there was no other judge available to hear the case in open court, the trial – reserved for four days in court – could not proceed.
In the end, the judge ordered that the stubborn plaintiff had to pay everyone’s legal bill.
Meanwhile, Judge Bam was also fed up with the conduct of a lawyer, identified only as B Maphanga, who had to defend a defendant.
The lawyer simply did not show up in court, stating he was busy, and demanded that the case be postponed to a date convenient to him.
The judge repeatedly summoned the lawyer to court, but he never pitched. The judge pointed out that it was “surprising” that a bailiff could behave in this way.
When the lawyer finally appeared in court, after various delays, the judge said he was “arrogantly” and “aggressively” asserting that he was not ready to act and that he could do what. That he wanted.
The judge said he gave the lawyer several opportunities to explain his conduct, which at times became stormy, but he persisted in asserting that he had the right to act as he did. In finding him in contempt of court – an unusual move – the judge noted that his conduct was a “shocking display of contempt of this court.”
Judges slam ‘rude’ lawyer and ‘obstructive’ witness
SourceJudges slam ‘rude’ lawyer and ‘obstructive’ witness