Accused claims judges receive 'secret training'
COURTS: Man charged with libelling judge chooses to defend himself
BY BRUCE BARTLETT
January 23, 2004
Stephen Charles Osborne, facing the seldom - used Criminal Code charge of libelling a judge, was back in court in Saint John Thursday to defend himself.
The case appeared to go off the rails in December 2002 when Justice Robert McIntyre of the Court of Queen's Bench stayed the proceedings because the province refused to pay for lawyer from Ontario to defend Mr. Osborne.
In early 2002 Mr. Osborne was charged with three counts of libelling Justice Raymond Guerette of the Court of Queen's Bench, Family Division. Since 1999, Mr. Osborne has at times carried signs outside the provincial building in Saint John accusing Judge Guerette of condoning lying in his court.
In 1999, Mr. Osborne lost custody of his two children to his ex-wife, who then moved to Toronto. The decision to grant custody to his ex-wife was made by Justice Guerette.
Last fall the New Brunswick Court of Appeal ruled that the province is only obliged to pay for a lawyer from New Brunswick, so the trial should go ahead. They left the decision with Mr. Osborne whether or not to hire a lawyer from this province.
He has argued that since the case involves a New Brunswick judge, lawyers from this province would not want to defend him.
On Thursday he was in court representing himself and said he would be making a constitutional argument to have Justice McIntyre removed from the case.
During a break, while Justice McIntyre was out of the courtroom, Mr. Osborne explained to the prosecutor that judges receive "secret training" at the National Judicial Institute in Ottawa. He felt entitled to know what was in that training.
Mr. Osborne said if the training was secret, it meant the judge was not one of his "peers", and if the judge wasn't a peer he shouldn't be sitting in judgement over him.
The legal system often refers to a person's right to have a trial in front of a jury of his peers, or equals, but assumes a judge will have specialized knowledge.
The National Judicial Institute was formed to, among other things, keep judges informed about new legislation and other developments of particular interest to the judiciary, and to develop programs to achieve these ends.
Justice McIntyre, from Bathurst, was chosen to hear Mr. Osborne's case because he did not know any of the parties involved.
When the judge returned to the courtroom he told both the Crown and Mr. Osborne he would give them 30 days to file any pre-trial motions. Then time would be set aside to hear those motions and make rulings.
A date for the trial will only be set after all rulings are completed.
Prosecutor Bernard Roux of Fredericton estimated it would take about a week to present his case. Mr. Osborne said he would need two weeks to establish his defence in front of a jury.
"It may take a lot longer because the jury may be going in and out of the courtroom many times so I can instruct Mr. Osborne," said Justice McIntyre.