13 January 2009

Rumpole and the Minister’s Choice (Part Two)

Why exactly did Tom Marshall, justice minister, attorney general and experienced lawyer, select Don Singleton to be a provincial court judge?

Bear in mind he did so without knowing any of the information on drunk driving charges and the conviction in 1990.  With that issue to one side, Marshall did pick a fellow who met the bare minimum time at bar as laid out in the Provincial Court Act, 1991.  The release announcing the appointment is noticeable for its brevity and for the generality of the comments offered about the appointee.

For the sake of comparison here is a list of Provincial Court Judges appointed since 1998 showing the year of appointment and the date in which the appointee was called to the bar. The list was compiled from news releases  available on the provincial government website. [text continues after figure]

Judge
Year Appointed
Year called to bar
Years in practice at appt
Gloria Harding
1998
1979
19
Wayne Gorman
2000
1983
17
William English
2000
1976
24
Patrick Kennedy
2001
Not given
27
Colin Flynn
2001
Not given
18
Harold Porter
2001
1986*
15
Catherine Allen-Westby
2002
1986
16
Timothy Chalker
2002
1971
31
Lynn  Spracklin
2002
1970
32
Bruce Short
2003
1992
11
Michael Monaghan
2006
1970
36
John Joy
2006
1978
28
Jacqueline Jenkins
2008
1990
18
Donald Singleton
2008
1997
11
On the face of it, Singleton would have been one of the most junior in terms of years in practice appointed in the last decade. 

Of the two with less than 15 years practice, Short was appointed to Goose Bay.  A check of the releases will note a consistent issue with finding judges for Goose Bay.  There appears to have been a fairly consistent turn-over and a problem in finding judges to sit there.  While Singleton practices in Goose Bay, he was appointed to fill a seat in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Placentia – if memory does not fail your humble e-scribbler – has been without a Provincial Court Judge for a least couple of years.

The other shortie is Harold Porter, currently in Grand Bank.  Porter is trilingual and has argued cases successfully in the Supreme Court of Canada in both official languages. That may well have had some influence on the decision to appoint him given the need to have at least a couple of bilingual judges in the province.

The remaining appointments all involved people with at least 16 years at bar, but typically closer to or over 20 years.

There are three with more than 30 years service.

The short ones really stand out, don’t they?

Starred Update:  * An e-mail received on Tuesday proved some accurate information for this post. Judge Porter was called to the Bar of Newfoundland in 1986, not 1988 as earlier noted.  That increases his time at bar before becoming a judge from 13 years to 15 years.  As well, he served for a time as a prosecutor in Quebec.

Placentia has been without a full-time judge for six years when the incumbent retired.  No replacement has been appointed;  Placentia is now served by a judge who sits there once a month or so to handle the cases that arise there.

-srbp-

1 comment:

líam said...

Wow, excellent research.