Ontario Superior Court
This court is generally considered to be the province's elite arena
for criminal trials, but justice Paisley seems determined to
singlehandedly undermine that reputation with his wayward insistence on
efficiency at any cost.
Two years ago, after being appointed a senior administrative judge,
Paisley drew flak from both crown and defense attorneys for establishing
an unwritten rule requiring that matters before him be wrapped up within
In the course of running his judicial assembly line, Paisley threw
out one case when a Crown attorney failed to show for trial at the
scheduled time. The case was no trivial matter -- the accused was facing
two charges of child molestation.
Around the same time, Paisley ordered another Crown to proceed with a
case involving extortion and kidnapping even though the defendant's
lawyer wasn't present.
Another defendant complained about being forced to enter a plea even
though her lawyer was at another trial defending a murder suspect.
Paisley was recently embarrassed when the court of appeal overturned
one of his decisions, taking the unusual step of referring to him by
name in its ruling, a move that is taken to be a sign of displeasure
against a trial judge.
The case involves a man accused of sexually assaulting his
step-daughter several years ago. On the day of his trial, the man called
his lawyer to say that he had strep throat and to ask whether he ought
to come to court.
His lawyer advised him not to, but Paisley responded by issuing a
bench warrant against the man and having him taken into custody when he
showed up in court the next day, even though he had a note from his
Stating that the man had provided no evidence indicating that he was
ill, Paisley subsequently ruled that the defendant had, by his action,
forfeited his right to a jury trial.
The man's lawyer responded with a motion asking Paisley to remove
himself from the trial, but Paisley turned down the motion.
The court of appeal, which granted the defendant a new trial, ruled
Paisley had deprived the man of his constitutional rights by denying him
a jury trial, erred by determining there was no evidence of sickness and
failed to enhance the "appearance of fairness'' by ordering the man
jailed though the Crown was not seeking his detention.
Paisley, for his part, argued that he didn't want to take himself off
the case because he wanted to ensure that is was -- wait for it -- tried
within a reasonable period of time.