Solicitor Ammi Burke has clashed with a High Court judge for the second time in just four days – this time after unsuccessfully trying to speed up her challenge to the termination of her wrongful dismissal case.
During the hearing on the motion, Ms. Judge Marguerite Bolger warned that if she continued to interrupt Ms. Burke, she would mute Ms. Burke’s microphone.
At today’s hearing, which took place online, heated exchanges between the lawyer and the judge continued on Monday when Ms Justice Bolger gave Ms Burke permission to challenge decisions by a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) judge but declined to do so on the matter classified as a matter of public interest.
“It’s a sad day in Ireland when a High Court judge makes a decision she knows to be wrong. Thank God there’s a higher judge,” Ms Burke told the judge today.
Not for the first time, Ms. Judge Bolger responded that if Ms. Burke did not like the decision, she could appeal to the Court of Appeals.
Ms. Burke was fired from her position as a junior associate in the banking and finance department of major law firm Arthur Cox in November 2019.
The firm says it was due to a breakdown in her relationship with three senior partners, but Ms Burke claims her dismissal was unfair.
However, her wrongful dismissal case at the WRC was dropped by referee Kevin Baneham in April after Martina Burke, the solicitor’s mother, called her a “persistent and willful obstruction and disturbance”.
Ammi Burke is now questioning these and other decisions made by Mr Baneham, including his refusal to subpoena two witnesses and require the production of emails.
She was admitted to judicial review proceedings by Ms Justice Bolger earlier this week but berated the judge for commenting that the challenge was “not a case of public interest” and refusing to allow her to make a specific request To add clarity to the application of the law to the summoning of witnesses.
The case was due to be returned to court in November, but Ms Burke petitioned the same judge today for an earlier repatriation date.
She put forward two reasons, the first of which was that her case concerned “the extremely rare circumstances of an attorney’s summary dismissal.”
Ms Burke said she has not been able to find legal employment since she was fired two and a half years ago. She said the dismissal and the WRC proceedings have had a significant impact on her career and any prospects of future employment in the legal profession.
“As an employee at Arthur Cox, I had an exemplary and impeccable record,” she said.
Ms Burke said if her challenge to the High Court was successful there would be a further hearing at the WRC and timing was crucial.
The second reason put forward was her belief that an expedited hearing was in the public interest as it related to procedures used by the WRC in adjudicating claims of unfair dismissal.
“If the reliefs are granted, there will be serious implications for WRC procedures in assessing all claims,” argued Ms Burke.
She repeated comments she had made repeatedly on Monday, criticizing Ms Justice Bolger’s observation that the case was not in the public interest. She claimed the statement was untrue and legally incorrect and repeatedly asked for it to be withdrawn.
“You are an expert in employment law. As far as I know, before you became a judge, you specialized in labor law. You are therefore well aware that this judicial review raises questions of public importance. I again express my grave concern about your testimony on Monday,” the attorney said.
The judge asked Ms. Burke not to interrupt her decision on the application.
Ms. Judge Bolger began by pointing out that Ms. Burke was addressing issues that had already been decided, but the attorney chimed in again and began talking about the judge.
“If you interrupt me again while I am making my decision, I will ask the registrar to mute you,” Ms Justice Bolger said.
The judge denied the request for an earlier return date, saying she did not accept that the case was in the public interest.
The judge said she appreciated that being fired was a significant burden for any employee, but the legislation did not allow a distinction between a lawyer and any other type of employee.
“You must take your place just like everyone else who comes before this court,” the judge said.
After the decision was made, Ms Burke continued to criticize the judge.
“There are rules that apply to all of us. There are rules that apply to me, but there are also rules that apply to you. You are also responsible,” she said.
Ms Judge Bolger responded: “The verdict has ended, so I will end this hearing now. Good day Mrs. Burke.”
When the judge signed off, Ms Burke said, “It’s a sad day.”
Ms Burke’s WRC case attracted considerable attention in April due to repeated objections and heckling.
She claims she was wrongly fired for criticizing one of Arthur Cox’s partners after being forced to work until 2am while colleagues were away.
Arthur Cox denied that she was wrongly fired, arguing that her relationship with three senior partners had broken down. WRC was told that, among other things, Ms Burke was ‘trying’ on a partner, Gráinne Hennessy.
Ms Burke was also heard to criticize another partner, Kevin Lynch, as he congratulated her on closing a deal. She reportedly told him that she “wouldn’t have had to work so late on this transaction if his team had done their job.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/judge-threatens-to-have-solicitor-ammi-burkes-microphone-turned-off-over-interruptions-in-court-41874335.html Judge threatens to have attorney Ammi Burke’s microphone turned off due to court interruptions