Judge who called ‘racist’ defendant ‘a c**t’ cleared of misconduct
A British judge who called a defendant a “bit of a c**t” during sentencing has been cleared of misconduct.
Judge Patricia Lynch QC was sentencing John Hennigan at Chelmsford Crown Court in August last year for his ninth bout of antisocial behavior in 11 years when the exchange took place.
Fifty-year-old Hennigan was in the dock when he told Lynch she was a “bit of a c**t,” to which the judge responded: “You are a bit of a c**t yourself. Being offensive to me does not help.”
Hennigan, of Harlow, Essex, retorted: “Go f*** yourself.”
“You too,” the judge retorted.
Following the exchange, Hennigan reportedly banged on the glass panel of the dock, performed a Nazi salute, and twice shouted “Sieg Heil” before starting to sing: “Jews gas them all.”
Judge Lynch then said sarcastically: “We are all really impressed. Take him down.”
Hennigan was jailed for 18 months for breaching an Anti-Social Behavior Order (ABSO) by insulting a black Caribbean mother, Tanisha Ford, and her two children, aged six and eight, as they were out shopping in Harlow in April 2016.
The court heard this was only the latest in a string of breaches of Hennigan’s ASBO. He has 23 convictions for 47 offences, many of them involving Nazi salutes and racist incidents.
In October 2012, he was seen performing a Nazi salute in a central London pub and making racial slurs towards black people. A judge later described him as a “disgrace to the values of this country.”
Lynch was investigated after about 10 complaints about her language were lodged with the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).
She told investigators she deeply regretted the incident and that her remarks were a momentary lapse of judgment, according to the Guardian.
A report on the incident was referred to the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and the lord chancellor, who is the justice secretary, Liz Truss.
The JCIO statement said: “Although the lord chancellor and the lord chief justice considered HHJ Lynch’s remarks to be inappropriate, they did not find that they amounted to misconduct or warranted any disciplinary sanction. [They] were of the view that the matter should be dealt with by informal advice.”
Lynch had now been advised to “ensure that she responded appropriately to parties in court at all times.”