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Jan Advocate 2017

138 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE some time off unless he is to be driven like a tired costermonger’s donkey, rendering judgments reduced in quality accordingly. He needs time to think, to read, to relax. At the moment a judge has one week in every five off trial work during which he writes his reserved judgments. He also has, in theory, two months free of trial work during July and August. However, invariably the first two or three weeks of those two months are consumed writing reserved judgments left over from term time. There is always one judge working in Chambers with another judge as a backup, producing as a rule one or two reserved judgments for those two judges. Thus a typical summer vacation for a judge consists of two or three weeks writing reserved judgments and cleaning up work, and a week in Chambers, leaving four or five weeks, depending upon the luck of the draw, for a holiday. Five weeks is not too long for men who are generally older rather than younger, and who are doing work involving strain and enormous responsibility in a difficult job. If then, the summer vacation is abolished, judges will have to take their two months holiday (net five weeks) staggered throughout the year. It can readily be seen that unless the number of judges is increased, the amount of trial work undertaken will not be increased. The Attorney General is of course quite right when he infers that by abolition the courtrooms will be used to full capacity. There are nineteen Supreme Court judges. With, say, two away at any given time, only seventeen courtrooms need be used. However, although some cases will be heard earlier, in the sense that instead of being heard in November they will be heard in August, in any given year no more trials will take place. It should be added that because a judge always has reserved judgments to write it is necessary that he be given two consecutive months free of trial work rather than two separate periods of one month each. Judges are not the only people involved in trials, however. Lawyers, witnesses, jurors, court registry staff and even those who only stand and wait also have to have holidays. People with children have to take their holidays in the summer. To the personae dramatis above listed, the thought of being forced to take holidays at other times in the year would be insupportable. Many of these people are humbly paid and cannot afford to take winter holidays. It would be unfair to expect somebody to take a winter holiday if he could not afford to leave British Columbia in search of the sun. It can be argued that the registry staff could be supplemented in the summer, indeed it is to a limited extent now, by law students for whom the experience is valuable. But, it could not supplement fifty per cent of the registry staff without some administrative chaos and one wonders if two extra courtrooms are


Jan Advocate 2017
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