One Question


Hon. Ronald Martland
Source: Alberta Order of Excellence

Remembered that Mr. Justice Ronald Martland, of the Supreme Court of Canada, was a smoker. Wanted to see if there was a recollection of a particular incident once recounted, or whether there was mistake in memory. Came across this from Ian Binnie, then of the Supreme Court of Canada: A Survivor’s Guide To Advocacy in The Supreme Court of Canada. First John Sopinka Advocacy Lecture, Criminal Lawyers Association of Toronto, November 27, 1998.

The seventh and last category of question (and I am mindful of the time and will wrap up shortly) is what used to be called the “Martland question”. Justice Martland, during the 70s and early 80s, was not inclined to ask many questions, but he would sit and fret and fool around with his papers and look quizzical and scratch an ear and call for books to be sent in, and talk to his neighbours, but at some point in the proceeding there would be a kind of chilly silence and Martland would clear his throat and out would come the question trailing wisps of smoke behind it. There wasn’t anybody in the courtroom who didn’t realize that the moment of truth had arrived. If you were able to deal with the Martland question the case was as good as won, and you felt yourself galloping towards the sunlit uplands of victory. And if you failed, there was a kind of a death watch that set in. The questioning from other members of the bench dried up. The judges began to make their notes for the court conference. Nowadays, mercifully, the red light goes on.

My recollection of what was said, at one point, is that Mr. Justice Martland became so engrossed in counsel argument that he casually lit a cigarette in open court, and continued smoking and listening carefully to counsel.

Couldn’t find any link to that. Or whether he stopped.


About brucelarochelle
This entry was posted in Supreme Court of Canada. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s