Thursday, January 07, 2010

A hundred years at the BC Court of Appeal

Today in Victoria, B.C., Chief Justice of British Columbia Lance Finch will open the 2010 sittings of the British Columbia Court of Appeal -- and will mark the one hundredth such opening, the centenary of the court.

I will not be there today, but I take a certain interest, since the Court of Appeal of British Columbia is the subject of a forthcoming book of mine, to be published by UBC Press in April. (Details in UBC Press's Spring 2010 scholarly catalogue, downloadable here.)

At the first sitting of the court, Tuesday, January 4, 1910, the Daily Colonist reported that the Supreme Court room at the Victoria court house was “crowded with members of the bar and interested citizens when their lordships entered.” After remarks by Chief Justice James A. Macdonald, there arose “the last of the old gladiators… straight as an arrow and belying his white hair by his easy carriage”: the Treasurer of the Law Society of British Columbia, Charles Edward Pooley, who had been practising in Victoria for forty-seven years. Pooley brought the congratulations of the bar and offered some reminiscences about courts and judges of the province’s frontier days. “His brother members,” he said, “looked forward to a transaction of court business without delay of justice.”

According to the Colonist, “their lordships created a very favourable impression indeed,” particularly the chief justice. “His keen logical mind, his finely-marked face, and the clearness and decision he evinced in getting at the meat of things all drew the attention of the visitors and the counsel he heard.”

BC filmmaker Meghna Haldar has made a rather terrific film about the Court and some of its memorable cases, recently shown on BC's Knowledge Network, and coming again on January 13. Info here.
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