Patrice Dozes Off During Case; Pressure Mounts on Elderly Justice to Retire

Sanctus – Matthieu Patrice, the longest currently serving Justice of the Supreme Court, fell asleep during a case hearing today, the third time in as many months, prompting calls for the 84-year-old jurist to retire and enjoy his remaining years. Patrice, who will turn 85 later this year and will mark 36 years in the Supreme Court this July, has resisted calls for his retirement over the past number of years, suggesting he still has the “mental ability” to serve.

In the latest instance of Patrice dozing off while on the bench, a lawyer for the plaintiff in the case had to motion for the Chief Justice to prod his slightly older colleague, having noticed the eminent jurist was no longer actively paying attention to the case. Though apologetic when he was awoken, this is not Patrice’s first loss in battle against the tedium of court cases, having fallen asleep during two admin law cases earlier this year.

The longevity of the Supreme Court justices has become an issue in recent years, with three of the current bench over the age of 80, including Chief Justice Patrick Grey who is 82. The average age of a Supreme Court Justice is now 71 – three years older than the state pension age. By convention, politicians do not publicly call for jurists to retire or step down, only intervening by manner of impeachment when a judge’s behaviour or actions call into question their integrity or suitability for office, but privately in Parliament House a number of deputies and senators across the aisles are suggesting it might be time for Patrice, and maybe some of his colleagues, to pave the way for a newer and youngerish generation.

Not constrained by such political convention is the Bar Association of Sanctaria, who have long advocated a mandatory retirement age for all federal justices. “Justice Patrice is a legal mastermind, and we would never seek to impune his good name or reputation”, Vice Chair of the Federal Bar Charles Loughlin said today in a press release, “but it is clear that the demands of the office of a Supreme Court Justice is taking its toll on the bench’s elderly members. Thirty-five years of service on the Supreme Court is a service that is commendable, but we believe it’s time for Justice Patrice to take a step back and enjoy his remaining years free from the toils of the judiciary”.

The Supreme Court’s press office declined to put reporters in touch with Justice Patrice, but did say that “retirement is a personal issue for any Justice and it’s not the place of the Court or its staff to make that request of an individual”. The Court breaks for its summer recess on June 23rd, and it’s believed by court-watchers that if Patrice, or any other Justice, intends to resign they will make it known on that date.

LOUISA SOUTER, Crime & Justice Correspondent

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