Court of Appeal for Ontario next Tuesday. If you were a member, you would be invited and a copy would be on the way to you.
A favourite passage at the moment:
On 12 October 1938, Crown counsel Clifford Magone was having a bad day in court. Trying to argue an appeal, he found himself constantly interrupted by questions from William R. Riddell, who was acting chief justice of Ontario during Chief Justice Rowell’s illness. Eventually Justice Robert Fisher came to the lawyer’s aid, declaring that he would like to hear Mr Magone set out his case uninterrupted.
“I intend to ask counsel any questions I wish,” said Riddell, “without any objections from my brother judges.”
Fisher declared that Riddell’s interruptions were quite improper.
“I don’t care a tuppence for you,” said Riddell, who was eighty-six and had been a judge since 1906.
“I don’t care a tuppence for you,” retorted Fisher, who was seventy-three and had been a judge since 1922.
In the end, the three-judge panel (the third was Cornelius Masten, who was eighty-one) dismissed the Crown’s appeal, and Riddell and Fisher were reported to be smiling and chatting by the end. But “Don’t Care Tuppence” became a Toronto Star headline the next day, with photos of the two judges.
The incident nicely captured the reputation the Court of Appeal developed in the 1930s: elderly, anglophile, crotchety, and self-indulgent. The Star story also noted that among official circles in Ottawa, the story provoked only “amusement and reminiscences.” One justice department official joked that since neither justice cared tuppence, it was a unanimous verdict and could not be appealed.Full disclosure: the rest of the book is not such a laff-riot all the way through. Still, judicial humour is where you find it.