Magistrate Joe Mifsud in hot water over Gozo court farewell media stunt

Magistrate Joe Mifsud has been reprimanded by Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti for a media stunt he threw in his Gozo courtroom on 12 October, according to sources within the courts speaking to The Shift News.

The Chief Justice has also reported Magistrate Mifsud to the Commission for the Administration of Justice, which is looking into the matter, The Shift is reliably informed but could not immediately confirm.

The occasion was the magistrate’s farewell to the Gozo courts on 12 October, where he invited a Television Malta crew to document the occasion and his farewell speech.

The move was seen as having been rather unorthodox, as cameras are rarely allowed inside courtrooms. When they are allowed in it is only under special circumstances and with the permission of the Chief Justice and the CEO of the Law Courts.

“These kinds of media stunts and ‘parties’ are frowned upon in the judiciary,” one source from within the courts told The Shift.

Such special occasions, they point out, take place on the appointment or retirement of a judge and never when a magistrate is concerned.

“While judges hold a public sitting on their appointment with the media being invited, magistrates do not do so, let alone when there has merely been a trivial change in duties as in this case.

“All sorts of magistrates are assigned to Gozo, they are changed all the time, and no one would even know about it.  Moreover, members of the Judiciary are not even allowed to communicate with media.”

Magistrate Mifsud was recently moved by the Chief Justice as part of a broader reshuffle of magistrates’ duties, where he will be presiding over income tax cases.

Mifsud was audited by tax authorities last year over his financial declarations, but it is understood he was subsequently cleared of wrongdoing.

Mifsud had recently returned to the bench after an absence over health issues, having spent 196 days recovering at Mater Dei Hospital.

He has also been assigned a third of all legal assistance cases over and above new and pending income tax cases, which were previously presided over by Magistrate Leonard Caruana, who was assigned criminal cases in Gozo together with Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.

The reshuffle also saw Magistrate Rachel Montebello, who continues to hear libel cases, taking over money laundering cases that were previously handled by Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras and Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.

At the 12 October event, for which TVM was present and which it reported, Magistrate Mifsud apologised to lawyers, police and court staff in his lengthy farewell address for how demanding he was as a magistrate, saying the people “want justice that is alive, not just numbers”.

He spoke about changes needed at the Gozo courts, overwhelming caseloads and about how the public “does not want revenge but justice and for it to be served in a timely fashion”.

Mifsud spoke, before the camera, about how he began a tradition of making the sign of the cross before each court sitting, even though there were those who he said had disagreed and complained about it.

“I did not give in and, in fact, I told those complaining that apart from the sign of the cross, I would also start saying three Ave Marias.”

                           
                           
                               
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Bamboccu
Bamboccu
23 days ago

Prosit Dr Misfud.

Grazzju
Grazzju
22 days ago

Since his early days in Labour Party , always been funny !

Carmelo Borg
22 days ago

Din Darba ha intieh il “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT” forsi ma kienx jaf?

Mark
Mark
22 days ago

Issa biex tgħaxxaqha … dalwaqt nisimgħu li “Il-kawża ta’ Repubblika għat-tneħħija ta’ Pawlu Lia minn fuq il-Kummissjoni għall-Amministrazzjoni tal-Ġustizzja se tkun qed tinstema’ mill-Maġistrat Joe Mifsud quddiem il-kru tal-PBS”

Mariatheresa Micallef
Mariatheresa Micallef
22 days ago

I can’t decide whether to call him a showoff or a comedian.., they both fit him anyway

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