THE Lord Chief Justice has joined in tributes to North Wales’ senior judge, Judge John Rogers QC, who is retiring after a long and glittering career.
Lord Judge was speaking at a special ceremony to mark the re-opening of the refurbished Mold Crown Court, where £10 million has been invested over the last five years.
He said Judge Rogers – or Big John as he is affectionately known at the bar – was a remarkable judge, bereft of self-importance.
Judge Rogers, who was made North Wales’ first resident judge in the year 2000, understood humanity, the amazing qualities human beings had and he also understood the awful characteristics that they sometimes showed.
“He has an ability to understand the bad, the awful, the pathetic and the sad, and is always able to keep a balance between the needs of justice and the need for mercy," Lord Judge said.
Judge Rogers had been “a wonderful judge”, he said, and was a great man of Wales.
Clare Pillman, HMCS director for Wales, said Judge Rogers had embarked upon a way of working in North Wales which had endeared him to all.
He had a hatred of bureaucracy, and a ruthless focus on performance, which meant the crown courts in North Wales were “quite possibly the most efficient in the known universe.”
His appetite for work was legendary, she said. Tributes were also paid by the presiding judge for Wales, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones; barrister Michael Chambers QC on behalf of the bar; solicitor Gwyn Jones on behalf of the Law Society and local advocates; and Edwin Hughes, chairman of the Flintshire magistrates’ bench.
Judge Rogers, who lives in the Vale of Clwyd, was appointed a QC in 1976, became a circuit judge in the crown court in 1998 and was appointed the first Resident Judge for North Wales in 2000.
Judge Merfyn Hughes QC was congratulated on his appointment as Judge Rogers’ successor as the new Resident Judge for North Wales.
Following a ceremony at a packed crown court number two – Judge Rogers’ favourite court – the Lord Chief Justice then unveiled a plaque in the foyer to mark the official reopening of the new refurbished court building.
Over the last five years, £10 million has been spent on improvements to the crown, magistrates and county courts.
Gone are the days of buckets to catch rainwater seeping through leaking roofs, dangerous asbestos and lifts that did not work.
The new facility now boasts a new multi-use courtroom, a new witness suite, improved jury accommodation, additional interview rooms, new windows, a new roof, conversion of the old judge's lodgings into offices, new refreshment and public waiting areas, five refurbished court rooms, and a new security control centre and reception.