Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Judges are to listen; not to intervene in the fray

R. v. Huang, 2013 ONCA 240 holds:

[32]       We make a final observation.  This is the second time in less than one year that this court has allowed appeals relating to judgments of this trial judge on the basis of reasonable apprehension of bias.  In both instances, the perception of bias arose because of improper and unwarranted interventions by the trial judge during the examination of witnesses: see Lloyd v. Bush, 2012 ONCA 349.  In both instances, public resources were wasted, great inconvenience to the parties resulted and the integrity of the administration of justice was tarnished.

[33]       It bears repetition that trial judges, like appellate judges, must preside in a judicious fashion.  Trial judges are, at bottom, listeners.  As this court said in R. v. Hossu, (2002), 167 C.C.C. (3d) 344, at para. 35, "[i]t is counsel's job, not the trial judge's, to explore inconsistencies in a witness' testimony." 


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