Thursday, August 30, 2012

The self-rep!

Dear CyberSmokeBlog:

Regarding your article about Appeal Court Judge Martin Freedman apparently retiring because of the 75-year mandatory age limit to return to his former BigLaw firm, he's still listed on the courts website

http://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/ca/ca_judges.html.

If he has left or is leaving I'd say 10 years is a fairly respectable stint on the Bench, though I note he's the exception for not having been promoted from a lower court.

I have a problem though with these people going back to being barristers. We really do need a complete separation between Bar and Bench. The appointments are for "life." That's a commitment that should cut both ways. How would you feel if as a self-represented person in front of Judge Freedman you lost to a party represented by counsel from his old law firm and then he goes back there? Do they actually believe that's OK?

Oh, and a reminder. Guy Pratte wasn't the first one to quite the Douglas Inquiry. That distinction goes to Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler before it actually got under way.

Chris Budgell
Vancouver

Dear Mr. Budgell:

Thank you very much for contacting CyberSmokeBlog.

We're quietly confident our information is accurate. While both sources requested anonymity one should be well-positioned. Besides, if you check Martin Freedman received his Bachelor's Degree in 1958 some 54 years ago which would make him awfully close to 75 if he's not already there. Once a formal announcement is made you'll likely see his name removed from the Manitoba Courts website to be replaced by Vic Toews? Perish the thought!

As for a separation of Bar and Bench completely agree, however, reality strongly suggests, the two are "as thick as thieves."

Regarding your example of a possible conflict of interest, that situation should be easily circumvented. Any Justice or Judge worth their weight in salt should self-declare from the get go and if necessary recuse. Otherwise, they could be leaving themself wide open to a possible challenge in the Manitoba Court of Appeal. By the way, earlier this year that's exactly what happened - should have stepped aside "Your Honour!"

Earlier this year we attended a Hearing before Justice Shane Perlmutter a recent Thompson Dorfman Sweatman graduate.

A group opposed to the Harper government's plan to de-monopolize the Canadian Wheat Board had applied for an emergency injunction to force a judicial review. At the time the Conservatives were moving at breakneck speed to bulldoze the CWB. He immediately began by declaring while at TDS the firm had the Canadian Wheat Board as a client but he was never directly involved with any of these files. No one objected.

Yes, Chief Justice Warran Winkler who headed the Canadian Judicial Council's Selection Committee which appointed "Pratte the Cat" did, in fact, resign. As we recall, at the time he cited a heavy workload.


Keep up the great work you're doing on the west coast keeping the judiciary honest!


Sincerely,

Clare L. Pieuk

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