Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Judicial Bias Claim

Beard Winter LLP v. Shekhdar, 2016 ONCA 493:

[10]        It is important that justice be administered impartially.  A judge must give careful consideration to any claim that he should disqualify himself on account of bias or a reasonable apprehension of bias.  In my view, a judge is best advised to remove himself if there is any air of reality to a bias claim.  That said, judges do the administration of justice a disservice by simply yielding to entirely unreasonable and unsubstantiated recusal demands.  Litigants are not entitled to pick their judge.  They are not entitled to effectively eliminate judges randomly assigned to their case by raising specious partiality claims against those judges.  To step aside in the face of a specious bias claim is to give credence to a most objectionable tactic.

[11]        In my view, a reasonably objective observer would give no weight to the claims of partiality advanced by the moving party in his 61-page document.  The challenged decisions were made by a unanimous three-judge panel.  To my knowledge, none were appealed.  The moving party is certainly entitled to his own opinion about the adequacy of the reasons and the correctness of those decisions.  However, the personal opinion of the losing litigant as to the quality and correctness of the court's decision counts for little when assessing a partiality claim.  It is understandable that losing litigants sometimes firmly believe that the court got it all wrong.  To jump from that conclusion to allegations of racism and corruption is irresponsible and irrational.

[12]        The moving party's subjective opinion about the tone of my voice, my appearance and attentiveness during the proceedings cannot, standing alone, overcome the strong presumption in favour of judicial impartiality.  His assessments are necessarily subjective.  It is perhaps not surprising that a losing litigant takes offence with the tone or appearance of the judge delivering the decision against the losing litigant. 

[13]        A reasonable observer, in considering the allegations made by the moving party, would also take into account that this moving party has made similar allegations of serious misconduct against a great many people involved in the judicial process, including many judges.  The moving party offers no evidence that any of the many allegations he has made have ever been made out to the satisfaction of anyone other than himself.  

[14]        There is no air of reality to the moving party's allegations of bias.  I did not recuse myself.

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