'Horny' comment during murder trial lands judge in hot water

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A former puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Bermuda has been panned by the Court of Appeal in England for saying he was getting “horny” during a murder trial.

Carlisle Greaves made the comment after a witness in a murder trial over a 2011 shooting told the court that he and the defendant previously shared sexual partners. The defendant was found guilty, but his lawyer included the comment on appeal, saying that the judge had acted inappropriately during the trial, The Royal Gazette said.

The lawyer criticised how Greaves handled the trial, saying that he allowed the use of vulgar language in the court by the witness. The Court of Appeal was furnished with transcripts of the trial that showed the witness repeatedly calling a party in the case a “f*****t” and repeatedly referencing “f******g p***y.”

The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal on 25 July, but Sir Maurice Kay criticised Greaves, who stepped down from the bench last month.

“In particular, his comment ‘all this sex is beginning to get me horny’ was inappropriate and inimical to the dignity of court proceedings,” Kay said.

He said that the defendant’s lawyer was “justified in criticising it,” but said that he does not believe that the comment “damaged the defence or had the potential to undermine the safety of the conviction.”

However, the higher court found that Greave’s handling of the crude language in court was not prejudicial, the Gazette said.

“Anybody familiar with serious criminal trials, in this jurisdiction in recent years, knows the judge has a very personal style, whereby he engages with witnesses, defendants, juries and advocates in an informal way, often using casual language and rich metaphors,” Kay wrote.

He said that in relation to the witness, it was important that the judge should facilitate his evidence, “whatever it turned out to be.” He said that he thinks that Greaves took the view that “the best course was to let the witness have his say, subject to the rules of evidence, rather than seek to inhibit him.” He said that the decision was an “exercise of judgment which was open to” the presiding judge.