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VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
with ingenious cross questions that left the rest of us smiling or making the
helpful suggestion that a judge might appreciate being woken up by the
loud slamming of several books on counsel’s table, there was always something
to laugh about when doing a trial with Norm.
When he joined the Justice Centre, he was no different. There, he had the
reputation of being a knowledgeable but funny person known for his dry,
witty comments. He quickly became the go-to person for in-depth explanations
on a wide variety of criminal matters, just as he was when he was
One of the lighter incidents that occurred during his years at the Justice
Centre happened during the unpleasant yet somehow fondly remembered
bed bug infestation at 222 Main Street. The “difficulties” that 222 Main was
experiencing were quickly recognized by those working at the Centre. One
evening during The Infestation, a bail hearing was being conducted by
video. Norm was there collaborating from just behind the scenes. Contributing
to and goading on the events as usual, he and another J.P. decided to
replace the court crest (situated in a prominent position on the wall behind
the sitting justice) with a cut-out colour picture of a bed bug about seven
inches across. Norm was apprehensive about the trouble they might get into
after defacing the court emblem, but he and the other J.P. went ahead anyway.
Luckily, the justices were spared contempt proceedings only by the
good fortune (and/or acclimatization) of no one ever noticing the bug. But
the bug was just the opening trailer that night. Their feature presentation
was a black plastic spider modified to look like a bed bug that was strung so
that it could move up and down in slow, bouncing motion through the field
of vision of the video camera. Norm was the designated stick operator. The
matter was called. As in most video hearings, submissions were made
heads-down, with the parties being focused on the written materials and
evidence in front of them. It took Norm’s widely admired skill and coordination
that night to get the spider to pass through the camera’s field of
vision at the exact moment that the Crown looked up to find a bed bug go
up his screen and bounce jauntily away. It was one of perhaps only a handful
of times in the history of the Centre that proceedings were derailed by
the conduct of someone other than an accused or counsel.
One of Norm’s colleagues at the Centre describes Norm as some who
hung in the background with a constant stream of sotto voce and made
funny and incisive comments about whatever was going on, reminding him
of those two gentlemen who oversaw the various goings-on in the Muppets.
That was indeed often Norm’s modus operandi when approaching all of life’s
random and wonderful absurdness.