A solicitor appealing the termination of her wrongful dismissal case has clashed with a High Court judge after being told her challenge was “not a case of public interest”.
There was a heated exchange of words when Ammi Burke spoke repeatedly about Mrs. Judge Marguerite Bolger.
The judge eventually ended the hearing, which was held online, by unsubscribing after warning Ms Burke multiple times to stop the suspension.
At one point, a visibly upset Ms. Justice Bolger said, “Ms. Burke, you are a qualified attorney. You know that after a decision has been made and reasoned, it is not appropriate to repeatedly ask a judge the question you are asking.
“I said what I said and I explained why I said what I said. The fact that you do not like this explanation does not allow you to repeatedly ask the same question.”
The extraordinary clash comes after Ms Burke received permission from the judge to challenge various decisions made by Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) decision officer Kevin Baneham, who dropped her wrongful dismissal lawsuit against leading law firm Arthur Cox last April.
Mr Baneham ended the WRC hearing and dismissed the claim after “continued and willful obstruction and interference” by the solicitor’s mother, Martina Burke.
The employment case attracted considerable attention at the time.
Ms Burke was fired from the law firm in 2019 and has not been able to find legal employment since. Arthur Cox has denied the sacking was unfair.
This is not a public interest case or a class action or anything like that
Ms Justice Bolger gave Ms Burke permission to start a judicial review process challenging the termination of the wrongful dismissal claim and said counsel had shown she had a justifiable case.
The judge also allowed her to challenge other of Mr Baneham’s decisions, including his refusal to subpoena two witnesses, Arthur Cox partner Kevin Lynch and HR director Ruth D’Alton, and his refusal to request the production of certain emails.
However, Ms Judge Bolger said she would not grant Ms Burke a leave of absence in relation to a specific request for clarification on the application of the law relating to the summoning of witnesses to WRC hearings.
The judge said if a statement is sought on the subject, it must be specific. She said what Ms Burke was looking for was “too vague and generalized”.
“This is not some kind of public interest case or class action or anything like that,” said Ms Justice Bolger.
Ms Burke took offense at the judge’s remark, insisting that her trial was “a matter of public interest” because the issues to be resolved were “obviously of general public concern”. The lawyer, who was representing herself, asked the judge if she denied that her case raised issues of general public interest.
Ms Judge Bolger responded that she “would not be attending a question-and-answer session” as she had already made her decision and laid out the basis for it.
However, Ms Burke insisted, saying she was “deeply concerned”.
She said the judge’s comment was “wrong”.
The judge replied, “Ms. Burke, I am no longer involved. I have made my decision.”
However, the lawyer again asked the judge to “withdraw the testimony”.
After the attorney intervened again, the judge said, “Well, Ms. Burke, you must stop interrupting me. Do you understand that? I have made a decision.”
But the argument continued, and Ms Burke spoke repeatedly about the judge.
The exchange lasted about 15 minutes and only ended when the judge exited the online court.
The lawyer claimed she was wrongly fired in November 2019 for criticizing one of Arthur Cox’s partners after she had 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. The case is the second time Ms Burke has sued the WRC over the handling of her case.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/now-ms-burke-stop-interrupting-me-solicitor-and-high-court-judge-clash-over-unfair-dismissal-case-41866167.html ‘Now, Ms. Burke, stop interrupting me’ – Solicitor and High Court judge clash over wrongful dismissal