In the matter of FX: Court will issue first judgment of the new year this Thursday

On Thursday, the 23rd of January, the Court will issue its first judgment of the new year: In the matter of FX. This case concerns the procedures under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 (2006 Act) for detaining an accused who is not fit to plead. Paul McMahon previewed the case here before the hearing last April–with links to two High Court judgments from Hogan J.

Carney J, in the Central Criminal Court, determined that FX was unfit to plead and ordered his detention in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH). The CMH determined that he suffered from chronic paranoid schizophrenia which is resistant to treatment. He is possibly the most dangerous person in civil detention in the State; and should he be released, he would represent a serious threat to himself, identifiable individuals and the public. FX’s detention, however, was not in compliance with the requirements of the 2006 Act. He sought his release pursuant to Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution. Hogan determined that FX’s detention was not in accordance with law.  He then had to balance FX’s constitutional right to immediate release with the Constitution’s stated purpose of attaining true social order (Preamble). Hogan J placed a short stay on FX’s release order to allow the State to rectify the legality of his detention.

This case raised a number of legal issues: the interpretation of the 2006 Act; whether a High Court judge has jurisdiction under Article 40.4.2 to hear an appeal for the release from an order for detention made by another High Court judge; whether a High Court judge could stay an order for release under Article 40.4.2; and if so, under what circumstances a stay can be put on an order.

Due to lack of public access to court submissions, I cannot say with certainty which part of Hogan J’s judgment is under appeal–or even whether FX or the State is the appellant. Although, as the hearing was before a five judge Court, we can assume that there was a matter of constitutional interpretation to be determined. So it is likely that FX is appealing his continued detention. All will be revealed on Thursday.

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