Portrayal of Mr Justice Peter Charleton
Sir, – I served as a judicial assistant to the Supreme Court from 2018-2019 and had the great privilege of being assigned to Mr Justice Peter Charleton.
I read the article published in The Irish Times (November 16th) and was deeply shocked and upset at the inaccurate portrayal of the role of judicial assistant as I experienced it, and at how Mr Justice Charleton was portrayed.
When I was a new graduate of law with no contacts in the legal profession, Mr Justice Charleton was a wonderful mentor. He afforded me opportunities to co-author articles with him which were published in several high profile legal journals, to assist him with important legal research, and to meet with legal experts relevant to my field of study.
Mr Justice Charleton was at all times highly respectful of me and my role and took the keenest of interests in my professional and educational development. He always ensured that I received proper credit and recognition for any work that I completed.
Last week’s article is unfair and does not accurately represent the duties of the role of judicial assistant to Mr Justice Charleton as I experienced it.
I never prepared the judge’s lunch on a day-to-day basis – I only ever assisted the judge in setting out lunches on the rare occasions he was hosting official guests, usually visiting judges from other jurisdictions.
Mr Justice Charleton also prepared coffee himself for said guests and often for me – I didn’t even know how the coffee machine worked! While, from time to time (approximately once a week, if even), I got the judge’s lunch in the shop, this was very informal. I was usually buying my own lunch at the same time, or indeed I used the occasion to take a quick break or even briefly meet a friend working nearby. There were never demands placed on me and I was never put under any pressure.
The fact that the article paints an inaccurate picture, while at the same time making no reference to the track record of Mr Justice Charleton as a highly regarded judge and public figure, is what makes it so unfair. It does not even remotely acknowledge the real role of judicial assistants, or attempt to ascertain the reality of working in this role.
Above all, Peter Charleton is a very kind man. He was always very generous with his praise, feedback and time. On the occasion that I made a mistake or thought I made a mistake, he was humorous and encouraging. He was never nasty or demanding, and he is not in any way classist or elitist. I am grateful to him for giving me the best start possible to my career, and anyone who has the privilege of being assigned to him in the future will be extremely lucky. – Yours, etc,