12 January 2009

Rumpole and the Doddering Old Man

Don Singleton won’t be sitting on the provincial court any time soon.

He withdrew his application, declined the nomination -  whatever is the right word – after information turned up that not only did Singleton have a conviction for impaired driving on his record, he’d neglected to tell the panel that reviews applications for the judge jobs.

Driving while intoxicated is a criminal offence in Canada.

Turns out Provincial Court Chief Judge Reg Reid did a bit of checking and turned up the conviction.

Marshall has a the better part of a box of extra large farm fresh on his face for picking any old name off the list without considering the applicants any more deeply than that. 

Singleton may have passed the basic review of his application, but if the committee reviewing the applicants didn’t rank them – as one suspects they didn’t – the justice minister wound up making a major blunder.

That’s an important point to keep in mind as the spin machine busily tries to lay the blame for this one on the committee and on Reg. Certainly that’s the tone of the interview Tom Marshall did with CBC’s David Cochrane last night and the way Cochrane’s debrief is running as your humble e-scribbler writes this.

The fault here is with the minister responsible who could have seen – on the face of it – that a guy with a mere 10 years at the bar might not be your first pick for a plum job.

Reid – known to most as Reg, not “Milton” as CBC has been calling him – likely took it upon himself to double check Singleton’s background after the most unlikely of names wound up being named as a judge. After all, the existing bench is chock full of senior former barristers, including a bunch of former Crown prosecutors. A guy with a decade under his belt would hardly get a look in without some sort of extra juice, like say a partisan connection.

If you didn’t know this about the current benchers,  the crap about no sitting judges with criminal convictions might make it seem like it’s been a fluke thus far the system worked.  But the system has worked because everyone involved, including the justice minister, looked carefully at the applicants.

In this case, they evidently didn’t.

Well, at least Tom didn’t.

But in any event, good on Reg.

The Doddering Old Man turned out to be not so old and not so doddering after all.  Reg preserved the integrity of his bench.

Maybe They Who Must be Obeyed will take learn a lesson from this and take some advice from now on. They don’t know everything.



Anonymous said...

Ed, I'm looking for some information you may be able to provide.
When the judicial council gives its' list to the minister, are the candidates given a grade, as it were, as to their competence?

Jerome Kenny

Anonymous said...

According to a Canadian Press story posted last night, "Singleton, 48, wrote that he had received a call Friday advising him that a reporter had contacted the provincial court asking for his criminal record. A search was conducted and the reporter was told there was no record.
But a subsequent search on another system revealed an impaired driving conviction in the late 1980s, Singleton wrote."

My question is who found the information on the "other system"? Was it the reporter or Judge Reid? In any case, had it not been for the reporter doing his or her job this would have never been found out or so it seems.

Minister Marshall has handled this situation poorly. I trust he will do better in the future.

one of the THIRTY percent said...

I hope Minister Marshall will do better in the future, too, in whatever job he has outside politics. That's where his future should be. Incompetent ministers should get FIRED. But in Danny's world, they get rewarded. Unless your name is Osborne.

Edward G. Hollett said...

@ Anonymous 1739:

I've since caught up on the details over the course of the day. There's a new post that brings everything up to speed.

The reporter couldn't have searched the court files so it was Reid and his staff who turned up the accurate information.

Rather than trusting the minister will do better, perhaps he should step down. This isn't his first foul-up.

That's unlikely to happen however since there basically isn't anything short of conviction for a criminal offence that will see someone torn from this cabinet. That's not my view; that's the standard set by the Premier himself.

We've seen the result of it in Marshall, Hickey and Dunderdale to name just three.