Judges Aren’t Supposed to be Political

Posted on November 28th, 2011 by Centennial Law in Judges

Judges aren’t supposed to be political and so if they start to criticize the government should we say they’re out of line?  … or when judges feel that it is necessary to criticize the government, is it evidence that the government is out of line?  Each of us will have his or her own opinion on these questions.


How are judges criticizing the government?  They’re telling us that the government isn’t putting enough resources into the judicial system.  Take the R. v. Ellis decision [2011 BCSC 1304], for example.


In the Ellis case, Mr. Ellis was charged with several offences:  assault, drug trafficking, car theft and others.  He was arrested on March 3, 2009.  For most of the next 31 months, he was held at the Kamloops Regional Corrections Centre.  As the judge observes, he was “deprived of the basic amenities of bed, television and reading materials and … access to the kitchen, shower and telephone were seriously restricted.”  While some might argue that prisoners are treated too well in our prison system and don’t need these amenities, let’s not forget that Mr. Ellis was charged – not convicted – and is presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proven.


Anyway, the story is long but we’ll make it short.  For the 31 month period of his incarceration, Mr. Ellis was not given an opportunity to be tried and so, eventually, he applied to the Court for a judicial stay of proceedings on the grounds that the delay in bringing the matter to trial violated his Charter rights.  In granting Mr. Ellis’ application, the judge stated:


This is obviously a thoroughly unsatisfactory outcome, but it is a consequence of government decisions that have seriously impaired the provincial court’s ability to schedule matters ….”


What do you think?


Article written by Centennial Law Corp. (Douglas E. Dent)

The specific facts of any real life situation can have many unforeseen legal implications. As a result, please note that the general information found in the above article should not be treated as legal advice.