Thursday, January 9, 2014

Judge allowed to ask clarifying questions at trial

Silvio v. 698743 Ontario Limited (J. DiFranco & Son Construction), 2014 ONCA 17: 

[8]          Third, the appellants contend that the trial judge compromised trial fairness by improperly interfering with the defendants’ cross-examination of witnesses.  They set out eight examples in their factum.
[9]          We do not accept this submission.  In the context of an eight-day trial, the small number of interventions during the defendants’ cross-examination of witnesses were directed at clarification of a witness’ evidence, ensuring that the defendants’ counsel was reading properly from an Examination of Discovery transcript, and limiting the number of times a question could be asked.  Although we might say that a couple of the trial judge’s interventions were unnecessary, we do not say that they were inappropriate.  In any event, they were far removed from the types of interventions discussed by this court in McFarlane v. Safadi (2004), 70 O.R. (3d) 599, Ross v. Hern, [2004] O.J. No. 1186, and Sargent v. Plaza Ontario Marble and Tile Inc., (2005), 205 O.A.C. 249.

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