Critics are questioning whether the Government needs to take expertise more into account when making appointments to the Federal judiciary.
Two Alberta judges have come under the microscope recently; Judge Robin Camp, who asked a rape complainant why she couldn’t keep her knees together, and Judge Denny Thomas, who used outdated legislation to convict Travis Vader of the murders of Lyle and Marie McCann.
A Global News review found one-third of Alberta’s newest federal judges had previous criminal law experience. But defence lawyer Graham Johnson wonders why, since most federal cases are criminal ones.
Former Chief Justice of Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench Allan Wachowich tells Global News that judges need to be generalists, since they’ll sit for an array of cases over their careers.
“You can’t really just say you can solve the problem by appointing judges who have that kind of experience.” he says. “They have to have general experience.”
Wachowich says judges must have the discipline to educate themselves in any fields of law they’ve not practiced.
“And usually judges who are good lawyers, or have the reputation to be good lawyers, can adapt to this system.” he says.
Wachowich says of greater concern is the shortage of judges, which has led to lengthy court delays, and sometimes, even charges being dropped.
Wachowich adds that the gaffe made in the Vader Case is understandable considering that even outdated legislation continues to be printed in the Criminal Code, something he says just doesn’t make sense. (ms, Global News)