WATCH | Attorney on why he hurled 16 F-bombs at Gauteng judge
An attorney who hurled insults at a Johannesburg high court judge on Wednesday has blamed the sequence of events on frustration and a medical condition.
Darren Sampson told the judge during a virtual hearing: “After what happened to me, I will never be able to practise as an attorney again. I've been telling the people that, their own medical experts and my own medical experts said this man is two slices short of a sandwich ... Every time I tell the judges that, the judges tell me, ‘But you are an attorney’. I’m sick of it!”
The judge then starts handing down judgment, and Sampson launches into an angry tirade.
“F**k you, judge - and all the other judges!” he screams.
Footage of the interaction was shared on social media and circulated in legal circles on Wednesday. Some of the posts on social media have since been deleted.
• WARNING - the video clip below contains strong language.
Sampson told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE on Wednesday that he had been trying to get his case against the state attorney’s office postponed and was frustrated.
“I suffer from [a medical condition] and have been suffering for a long time. I had an attorney. The judge told me to get a lawyer because she said I was emotional. I got a lawyer and she completely went against my instructions,” he said.
“Today [Wednesday], when I was trying to explain to the judge, she did not want to listen. She said the matter is withdrawn.
“What angers me is that for years, when I put the matter on the roll, the state attorney would arrive late at court. They would ask for a postponement and it would be granted.”
The case he was referring to was a protracted legal battle involving his former employer and the state attorney over infighting at the Protea magistrate's court, where he was stationed as a Legal Aid lawyer.
“She [the judge] refused to listen to me. She gave the woman [the lawyer representing the state attorney’s office] 80% of her time and she gave me 20%. She just said she is going to hand down judgment. That is why I lost it.”
'Such conduct is becoming endemic'
Sthembiso Mnisi, spokesperson for the Legal Practice Council, a statutory body that regulates the affairs of attorneys and advocates, said in a statement that the council condemned "in the strongest terms the recent behaviour of two legal practitioners" in court proceedings that took place in Gauteng and Limpopo.
“As the regulatory body of the legal profession in South Africa, we believe that our judicial system is one of the most robust in the world,” said council chairperson Kathleen Matolo-Dlepu.
“The unbecoming behaviour by both legal practitioners shows total disregard of our judicial system and complete lack of respect for the presiding officer and the judiciary.
“It is unfortunate and concerning, as it seems that such conduct is becoming endemic. We will be taking steps against both legal practitioners in line with the council’s disciplinary processes.”
While the council believed in the right to freedom of expression, it was "alarmed by the lack of decorum and professionalism" demonstrated by the practitioners.
Sampson said it was anger and frustration that drove him to swear, coupled with his condition.
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