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VOLUME 30, ISSUE 05


The Case of “Judge Nodd” and other Sleeping Judges–Media, Society, and Judicial Sleepiness

Ronald R. Grunstein, MB, BS, MD, PhD, FRACP1; Dev Banerjee, MB, ChB, MD, MRCP2

1Sleep and Circadian Research Group and NHMRC Centre for Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Sydney, NSW, Australia; 2Sleep and Ventilation Unit, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, UK



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Study Objectives:

Review cases of judicial sleepiness and subsequent outcomes, including media and community attitudes.

Design:

Index case report and Internet search in English language at 2
recent time points.

Participants:

Index case and 14 other cases of judicial sleepiness reported on the internet

Measurements:

Qualitative review of media and Internet reports.

Results:

The index and other cases highlighted the role of the media seeking a punitive approach to occupational sleepiness, similar to that observed within the transport sector. In the index case, the judge’s driver’s license was withdrawn, despite official acknowledgement of effective treatment of sleep apnea. In 10 cases, judicial sleepiness resulted in a retrial and, in up to 5 cases, resulted in dismissal or retirement of the judge. In most cases, the cause of sleepiness was not determinable.

Conclusion:

Judicial sleepiness is not uncommon and is viewed negatively by the media, community, and judicial system. Active monitoring of the judiciary for sleepiness and sleep disorders is suggested.
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