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Luke Fox (judge)

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Name  Luke Fox

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Luke Fox (c.1757-1819) was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland in the early 19th century. In 1805, he was accused of judicial misconduct in his handling of cases. Three petitions were presented to the House of Lords alleging that he had allowed his political preferences to sway his judgements. He was charged with trying to persuade a grand jury for political reasons, fining a High Sheriff for tardiness and insulting a trial jury.

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The Prime Minister urged the Lords to abandon the case against Fox, and he continued to serve for a further eleven years.

Biography

He was born in County Leitrim, the fifth son of Michael Fox of Tullly, a small landowner. Luke graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1779 and entered Lincoln's Inn in 1781. He was called to the Irish bar in 1784 and went on the north-western circuit. He was an excellent lawyer, but to further his career joined the Whig Club and wrote political pamphlets for the Whig Party. In 1790 he made an extremely advantageous marriage to Anne Annesley, a niece of Charles Loftus, 1st Marquess of Ely Through Lord Ely's patronage he entered the Irish House of Commons as member for Fethard, and later for Mullingar. His initial attitude to the Act of Union 1800 was ambiguous, but in the last stages of the Bill his services were of such value to the Crown that he was among the first barristers to reach the bench after Union. He died three years after his retirement at Harrogate.

Character

Fox was a superb advocate, but notoriously bad tempered, and so untrustworthy that it was said Fox was the only possible name for him. The strange conduct which led to his impeachment is difficult to explain even allowing for his hot temper : his was accused of partisan political motives; on the other hand as Ball remarks, the Robert Emmet rising and the murder of Lord Kilwarden had left the whole judiciary in an agitated state. Fox's eventual acquittal did not redeem his reputation with his colleagues, some of whom thought him unfit for office: it is significant that when in 1805 a series of scurrilous attacks on a number of Irish judges were published under the pen-name Juverna, Fox was immediately suspected of being the author; in fact, the author was another High Court judge, Robert Johnson, who was duly prosecuted (although he retired before he could be removed from office.

References

Luke Fox (judge) Wikipedia


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