WATCH | Attorney who loses cool during virtual court hearing apologises to judge

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  • Footage of an attorney losing his cool and hurling abuse at an acting judge during a virtual court hearing last week has gone viral.
  • Darren Sampson, who was representing himself in a case against the Minister of Justice, reacted to the judge's decision to dismiss his claims.
  • He has since written a letter of apology to the acting judge.

An incident in which an attorney repeatedly swore at an acting judge after she dismissed his case during a virtual Gauteng High Court hearing in Johannesburg on Wednesday, has gone viral.

He has since apologised for his conduct. 

The attorney, Darren Sampson, is a former employee of the Department of Justice. He represented himself in a case against the Minister of Justice and others for defamation and damages.

The State's attorney, Sha'ista Kazee, said the minister and various State respondents sought an order dismissing Sampson's claims.

"Long story short, the judge gave her order and that was his response," said Kazee.

Sampson alleged that his case was wrongfully dismissed by Acting Judge Tasneem Moosa.

"I tried to tell the judge that I don't want to withdraw the case and that's why I am here. There is a certain procedure that's meant to be followed and it wasn't followed," he said.

Sampson worked as a legal aid lawyer at the Protea Magistrate's Court in Soweto where he claimed he experienced abuse from a magistrate and a senior prosecutor.

Booked off for his mental health

He said he was booked off work since 2017 for his mental health. He has not been taking his medication because he's no longer on medical aid and can't afford it.

"Eventually, something had to give. I ended up having a mental breakdown. I couldn't handle it anymore and right now I suffer from bipolar disorder," he told News24.

Sampson referred to the incident as "the worst day of his life" and has since written a letter of apology to the acting judge.

"I wasn't brought up like that... I feel bad, really I feel bad. All I wanted was justice," he said.

The Legal Practice Council (LPC), a statutory body that regulates the affairs of advocates and attorneys, referred the case to its Gauteng office to investigate the matter.

The LPC released a statement on Wednesday condemning "in the strongest terms" the recent behaviour of two legal practitioners, one being Sampson.

"The unbecoming behaviour by both legal practitioners shows total disregard [for] our judicial system and complete lack of respect for the presiding officer and judiciary," read the statement.

In the judgment, the acting judge listed her reasons for dismissing the case but could not be reached for comment.

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