There is disquiet in the sleepy hamlet of Gander.
The provincial courthouse is short one judge since Judge David Peddle was appointed to the Trials Division of the Supreme Court last December.
Justice Peddle’s former bench-mate - Judge Bruce Short – is on something of a work-to-rule, as it seems, to protest the delay in appointing someone to help with the load of cases parading before him in the Gander courthouse.
Court is held only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with Judge Short repairing the rest of the time to his home, which is, it should be noted noted, more than the maximum 70 kilometres from his bench required by the statute.
Judge Short is reportedly so peeved that he has told counsel appearing before him that they are free to call their members in the House of Assembly and impress upon the politicos the need to send a second judge out to share the burden in Gander.
One wonders what might happen if no one can rouse the appropriate authorities to fill the spot in Gander not to mention the other three seats on the provincial court bench that currently sit vacant.
Perhaps Judge Short might be compelled to start tossing cases out the door based on delays in hearing them and the resultant constitutional issues arising.
Perhaps justice minister Tom Marshall is holding off on any new appointments out of embarrassment over last winter’s Singleton fiasco. It’s not everyday someone turns down a judge’s appointment once details of his past emerge.
The politicos tried to push the whole thing off as a failure of the selection committee, but that story turned out to be a bit of a nose puller.
Whatever the reason, Gander is experiencing a summer of discontent in 2009 with a very special cause.
It will carry on, one suspects, until someone manages to get a few names in front of Tom Marshall the next time he comes into the office from his home in Corner Brook.