A shortage of judges will soon leave Ontario's Superior Court of Justice "severely handicapped" in its ability to function, the court's chief justice told a top-level judicial gathering yesterday.
Chief Justice Heather Smith said five vacancies remain unfilled, one for nearly a year, and an unprecedented 17 retirements come due in 2006, demanding almost two dozen judicial appointments to keep the bench at full strength.
The Superior Court's Smith said when the court was formed through amalgamations in 1990, the province's population was 9 million. Now it is closer to 12.7 million, with no proportional increase in judicial capacity, Smith said. The earliest that a civil trial lasting more than 11 days can now be scheduled is 2008, she said.
You'd think that at $200,000+ a year, there'd be no shortage of qualified applicants for the position. But for a good many experienced partners, especially in larger firms, it would be a pay cut.
And even if they only sit in court for a few hours a day, there's still plenty of work in chambers reading factums, trial, motion and application records, and preparing written decisions (even with the assistance of eager clerks) to make more than an eight-hour day for any reasonably conscientious judge. Even if he isn't presiding that day.
It's a difficult job if it's done right. It's worse for those appearing in court if it isn't.
The judicial system deserves most of the criticism it gets, especially for activism, but it is far from a cushy job in fancy dress.
Source: Toronto Star