10 January 2009

Rumpole and …

Things overheard in the clerks’ room at Number 3 Iniquity Court:

1.  and The Old Boys Net, Redux.  Seems there was an omission from the biography that went with the notice that Karl Inder had taken silk.  The newly minted Queen’s Counsel (to be sworn next week) “began his professional career in St. John's where he practiced for five years before returning to his hometown of Grand Falls-Windsor in 1989.”  No mention though of what firm, which would be odd given that it was the Premier’s.

How many of the Premier’s friends, relatives and acquaintances have been appointed counsel to Her Majesty, learned in the law, since October 2003? The number must be getting embarrassing even if it does include, among others, most of the partners at his old chambers, his brother and the current minister of finance.

2. and the Embarrassment of Riches.  Mark Pike was doubly blessed in October 2008, being named Queen’s Counsel and then a few weeks later appointed as the the next in line to be chief provincial court judge.

He was sworn to the bench last week but, as word goes, the silks aren’t to be handed out until next week.

Whatever to do?  It would hardly be appropriate for a judge to take an oath to counsel Her Majesty as one learned in the law when Her Majesty has already removed one from the fray.  As a judge one is to decide cases, not argue them.

Ah, if only they’d handled the ceremonies in the same order as the news releases.

3.  and the First Time Ever.  The Queen’s Counsel appointments had a first time event in the history of the local legal community, namely the first time a husband and wife took silk at the same time.  Mark Pike is married to Pamela Goulding.

4.  and the Judge’s Elbow.  Or is it the judge’s ear?  Don’t be surprised if every time someone appears on a criminal matter before Assistant Chief Provincial Court Judge Mark Pike (one and the same as Pike QC) that defense counsel doesn’t raise the uncomfortable point that the prosecutor’s boss is the judge’s spouse.

Pamela Goulding QC is the Director of Public Prosecutions for the province.

Seems it’s the first time ever for that little problem to occur as well. Lesser issues have been raised and some not quite so interesting have gone to the Supreme Court of Canada no doubt.  Someone  - not a QC surely - might be bloody minded enough to push this one quite far.

5.  and the Blind Tasting.   Some rumblings of discontent this week with news that Don Singleton has been appointed to the provincial court bench.  The new Judge Singleton had a run-in with the law in 2005, in that he pleaded guilty to charges of evading taxes on tobacco and alcohol purchased from the Italian air force duty free shop in Goose Bay.

He received an absolute discharge.

Judge Singleton had only been at the bar – the legal one – for a decade prior to his appointment. He was a fisherman and went to law school under the TAGs program. At the time of the tax problem, he was handling federal government legal work in Labrador;  he very quickly lost the contract to prosecute drug and assorted regulatory offences.

Judge Singleton’s wife, it should be noted, sits on the executive of the Provincial Conservative Party.  Unreported publicly thus far, though, is the fact that this is not Judge Singleton’s first appointment since 2003.  In 2005, he was appointed as an alternate employer representative on the labour relations board.