Barrister suspended and fined £2k for saying judge talks 'rubbish'

Female barrister is suspended and fined £2,000 after telling jury that crown court judge was talking ‘absolute rubbish’ during trial

  • Jacqueline Vallejo was fined after being ‘rude and unprofessional’ at trial
  • She was ‘disrespectful’ to the female judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court
  • Vallejo worked as a criminal barrister at Garden Court Chambers in London 
  • A female barrister has been suspended and fined £2,000 after she told a jury the judge in the case she was working on was talking ‘absolute rubbish’.

    Jacqueline Vallejo, who was called to the bar in 1997, was ‘rude and unprofessional’ to the female judge during a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, a disciplinary hearing was told.

    The criminal specialist, who worked at Garden Court Chambers in London, made numerous ‘disrespectful’ comments in front of jurors at the trial in 2016.

    She also told the judge: ‘don’t try to make me sound like an idiot.’

    Over the course of the trial, the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service heard Vallejo was ‘unduly’ argumentative with the judge and both talked over and interrupted her.

    The trial in 2016 was held at Snaresbrook Crown Court, London, (pictured) where Ms Vallejo was 'disrespectful' to the judge. The barrister has been suspended and fined £2,000 for her conduct

    The trial in 2016 was held at Snaresbrook Crown Court, London, (pictured) where Ms Vallejo was ‘disrespectful’ to the judge. The barrister has been suspended and fined £2,000 for her conduct

    And when the unnamed judge warned her about her conduct, she told the hearing: ‘If your Honour wants to do anything about me and my conduct that’s fine.

    ‘I’d rather you do it sooner rather than later, though.’ 

    Vallejo, who had been a barrister for almost 20 years at the time of the trial, has now been suspended for four months for her ‘disrespectful’ tone.

    The lawyer was one of the specialised barristers who worked on ‘the Salsa Spy’ case, where an army translator and salsa dance teacher who worked for the head of Nato forces in Afghanistan was found guilty of spying for Iran in 2008.

    The hearing, run by the Council of the Inns of Court, was told Vallejo was ‘abrupt, disrespectful’ and had an ‘unhelpful tone, attitude and approach’ during the 2016 trial. 

    When the judge summarised evidence that had been given by a witness, Vallejo rebuked in front of the jury that it was ‘absolute rubbish’. 

    Criminal barrister Vallejo also refused to engage with the prosecution despite being ordered to.

    She was then warned by the judge about her conduct, adding that they did not want to delay or distract from the trial.

    But the hearing was told Vallejo retorted: ‘Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing.’ 

    When the judge asked her to clarify some evidence, she chided that she had ‘explained it already’ before Vallejo made a joke and called her the ‘Learned Judge’ – instead of ‘your Honour.’

    She added that she felt she was being ‘forced’ to accept the prosecution case.

    On another occasion, Vallejo’s used an ‘unhelpful tone’ when she answered the judge by saying: ‘I cannot force my client to provide a defence statement. 

    ‘What part of that does your Honour not understand?’

    When the judge asked for clarification about a witness’ evidence, the panel heard Vallejo retorted in front of the jury: ‘Well if your Honour wants to conduct the cross-examination I’ll sit down.’

    Vallejo was ordered to pay the £2,000 in the next year.

    The panel concluded: ‘[She] failed to observe her duty to the court in the administration of justice in that she behaved in a rude and unprofessional manner.’

    Criminal barrister Vallejo worked at Garden Court Chambers, London (pictured) before she was suspended for her conduct during the trial in 2016

    Criminal barrister Vallejo worked at Garden Court Chambers, London (pictured) before she was suspended for her conduct during the trial in 2016