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Alan Shatter: I spoke to the Attorney General about impeaching Heather Perrin

Former District Court judge Heather Perrin was sentenced to two and a half years in jail today after being found guilty of deception. She has resigned – but the Justice Minister had planned to impeach her if she hadn’t.

Heather Perrin
Heather Perrin
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Justice had been considering impeaching Heather Perrin to remove her as a District Court judge before she resigned last night.

Perrin was sentenced to two and a half years in jail today after being found guilty of deceiving a client out of part of his estate when he drew up his will.  She is the first member of the judiciary in Ireland to be sent to jail.

Speaking after her sentencing, Alan Shatter said he had consulted with the Attorney General about initiating the impeachment process to remove Perrin as a judge. Judges cannot be sacked or asked to step down by the government – they can only resign or be impeached.

Shatter also praised the elderly victim for following through with the case and said that it emphasised the importance of trust between clients and professionals in the legal profession.

“[Heather Perrin's] sentencing today starkly illustrates the importance of the highest standards of honesty being observed,” said Shatter.

“The victims in his case are to be greatly commended for their fortitude in seeing this difficult and distressing criminal prosecution through to conviction”.

He said that members of the legal profession are in a “particular position of trust” and have an obligation to honestly implement instructions received and to act in an appropriate manner at all times”.

He added:  ”I had been considering, in consultation with the Attorney General, initiating the impeachment process prescribed in the Constitution subsequent to today’s sentencing of Heather Perrin. However her resignation as a judge of the District Court on Monday evening has resulted in such a process being no longer relevant or necessary”.

Heather Perrin, 60, from Lambay Court in Malahide in Dublin, was found guilty of deception last week after she induced an elderly client to bequeath half of his estate to her two children while she was working as a solicitor. The incident took place before she was appointed to the bench in February 2009.

Heather Perrin submitted her resignation as a District Court judge to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to be passed on to the President last night.

She has not heard a case in the District Court since June 2010 as she has been on medical leave.

Read: Shatter: Judge found guilty of deception to resign >

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