Cape Judge President John Hlophe admitted to gross misconduct in an affidavit before the Johannesburg high court, a lawyer said yesterday.
Advocate Gilbert Marcus SC quoted Hlophe as having said to the judges he had allegedly tried to influence: "I felt strongly about privilege and fair rights" and "the Zuma matter had to be correctly decided on".
Marcus said these statements already amounted to misconduct.
"On his own version, that is what occurred," Marcus told the Johannesburg high court.
Marcus was addressing the court in an unprecedented case where Hlophe is seeking a declaration that actions by the Constitutional Court (Concourt) against him be declared unlawful.
He is representing the judges who stand accused of infringing Hlophe's right to human dignity.
They released a media statement charging that Hlophe had tried to improperly influence Judge Bess Nkabinde and acting Judge Chris Jafta in a case related to corruption charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma, and did not give him a chance to respond.
Marcus argued that the judges did not need to offer Hlophe an opportunity to respond because the complaint was laid in their individual capacities.
"We say the applicant's behaviour violates the elementary principle of judicial ethics."
The hearing was delayed briefly when Hlophe's lawyer, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, objected to the court's invitation to advocate Wim Trengove SC to act as a friend of the court.
Trengove represented the state in the Concourt case dealing with search and seizure raids related to Zuma's corruption charges.
Ntsebeza questioned his independence.
A full bench of five judges heard argument before withdrawing the invitation.
The case is continuing. - Sapa