A trial at Manchester Crown Court had to be halted last week after allegations that the judge had nodded off as an alleged rape victim was giving evidence via video-link. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office is looking into the matter, on which the judge has declined to comment.

It is, of course, a serious matter, particularly in such a trial. But most lawyers will have a tale or two to tell about a judge dozing off on the bench – the odd snooze seemingly cannot be avoided, however sparkling and erudite the advocacy.

Such is the phenomenon of judicial narcolepsy that in 2007 Dr Ronald Grunstein of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and Dr Dev Banerjee of Birmingham Heartlands hospital in the UK, penned a treatise on it. The Case of Judge Nodd and Other Sleeping Judges – Media, Society, and Judicial Sleepiness, cited 15 cases from Australia, the UK and Canada.