The dictionary defines a judge as "a public officer
authorized to hear and determine causes in a court of law."
The following essay will deal on how to become a judge, the
requirements to become a judge, salaries, and the different
types of judges and what kind of information they deal with.
Judges are some of the most important people in Canada.
They are the men and women who sit on the benches in the
courtrooms, whose responsibility it is not only to decide
the fate of human beings, like themselves, but to steer and
control the course of the law itself. The arrival advent of
the 1982 Charter of Rights changed many things for judges.
Since then, they have been handed the tasks of determining
the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Canadians.
WHAT IS A JUDGE?
A judge basically decides on the fate of the person who
stands before him. He listens to the information presented
from the defendant, who is the accused, and the plaintiff,
who is the accuser. Once all of the information has been
presented, either the judge makes a decision or the jury
does. In a small court, usually a judge makes the decision,
but if the defendant was a mass murderer, and had eye
witnesses seeing him kill a person, but had a virtual
air-tight case for him that would get him out scot-free
because he was the prime minister's son, there would be a
A judge also passes sentence, which is how long the
accused, if found guilty, should be punished. A judge is
looked upon as "god" to the accused standing before him,
the judge holds the fate of a person in his hands. They
command respect, and the job of a judge, if it is the
supreme court or a small claims court, the word "judge"
holds special meaning.
A judge also has the good fortune to see almost every type
of person living today, from killer to housewife, from
jaywalker to terrorist. REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A JUDGE AND
HOW TO BECOME ONE
Only the best can become a judge. The word "best" does not
apply to the best at math, physics, or science, but the
best that they can do. If a judge only sits there, in a
black robe, staring attentively at the wall, then anyone
could become a judge. To become a judge, you must have the
ability to think logically, fairly, and to listen to two
sides of a story, conflicting each other. One says guilty.
One says mistake. The judge must listen and make his
decision. Research on fifty judges from around Canada
showed up the following information:
All of them had a Law degree.
60 percent said that they hadn't planned on being a judge
The first step to becoming a judge is work. You have to
work hard to graduate from law school. Many judges said
that they hadn't planned on being a judge, and almost all
of them said that it was the right job for their abilities.
Many say that emotion during a trial can kill a judge, but
to look at it from many different points of view to come up
with a decision actually helps the judge to make the
Many lawyers often become judges. It is a stereotype to say
that judges are all old, white haired men, because there
are many, many women judges. The information I have so far
gathered says that a law degree is the first step. There
really is no other second step. You can't really become a
judge of a high court on just a law degree, so anything
else which will help. One judge surveyed has his law
degree, MBA, a degree in economics, and has gone to school
for over half his life. He is seventy three years old. He
is now retired, after being on the bench at Provincial
Court for over 20 years. Provincial Court is where street
level cases are heard.
To get into law school, you must have an average score of
94 percent or better, (1987 figures) and to graduate you
must have 95 percent or better (again 1987 figures.) The
first step is very tough. There are too many lawyers out
there, but not enough judges. Hundreds of cases have been
thrown out simply because they were waiting to be brought
to trial. One person was waiting for over a year, and the
case was thrown out.
Judges are selected to an appropriate court when they are
needed. When a major case comes up into the Supreme Court,
a judge is selected. When a new court opens up, a judge is
selected. To become a judge, you have to wait and be
patient until a job comes, much like a lawyer. Many judges
sit, or work at a particular court. For example, there are
fifty one judges at the Supreme Court of Canada.
A judge really boils down to a fancy lawyer. But not just
any lawyer, not a prosecutor or a defence attorney, but
both rolled into one who must make a decision for one of
the two. TYPE OF JUDGES AND THEIR SALARIES (Average
approximate salaries from judges in Canada.) Traffic Court
40,000+ Provincial Court
50-60,000 Supreme Court
70-90,000+ Basic All-Around Judge
Anywhere from 30-70,000
A Traffic Court judge deals with traffic accidents and
offenses, jaywalking (although jaywalking usually just has
a fine,) parking tickets, etc.
A provincial Court judge is the kind of judge who deals
with domestic street violence. This is the type of judge
seen on the TV show Night Court. Almost anything is
presented in provincial court, from assault to arson, from
second degree murder to littering. Most first degree murder
charges are sent here, or if they have very serious
ramifications, they are sent to the Supreme Court. Old City
Hall is a Provincial Court.
The Supreme Court judge has a tough job, but not the
toughest. The supreme court deals with reinterpretations of
the law, changes of the law, (like the abortion law,) mass
murderers or serious arson or car accidents.
A basic, all-around judge is the type of judge that deals
with almost everything. He/she is not exactly a Supreme
Court judge, but more than a Provincial Court judge. He/she
deals with everything and probably has a second job with a
law firm or something else, like a lawyer.
The first case history presented will be of one of libel.
The plaintiffs, a man named Norris Walker and his company,
Walker Brothers Quarries, had sued CTV for libel. WBQ was a
family operation that had been in operation for several
decades now, and for the past ten years or so most of their
business consisted of disposing industrial waste. In the
spring of 1980, W5, the investigative program on the CTV
network, got some news that Walker Brothers was lax, or
even illegal, in its methods it used for burying the
industrial waste. W5 sent one of their reporters to get the
story, which he did, an 18 minute segment for the show. The
film was more for the idea of illegal burial methods. On
October 26, 1980, W5 ran that 18 minute segment, and on
january 1, 1981, Norris Walker, along with the company,
sued CTV for libel.
The court consisted of a jury, since libel is one of the
remaining civil actions in which a jury is required. The
six person jury consisted of four women and two men. The
plaintiff, Norris Walker and WBQ, kept explaining that the
W5 segment had created an untrue picture of the Walker
Brother's operations through biased film editing. Parts of
the interviews that didn't fit the program's thesis that
the company was a dangerous polluter were cut out. The show
talked about in the community where the Walker Brother's
operations were situated about that the company was up to
no good, and in the interview with Norris Walker, no-one
put the local gossip to Walker. Unfair, libellous, said the
plaintiffs. The plaintiffs had enough witnesses to the
stand to underline the point, but they weren't sure that
the jury was getting it.
By the end of the trial, there could be a new record for
the amount of money awarded to damages for the plaintiffs,
said the plaintiff's attorney.
When the trial entered its third week, the defendants
pressed that W5 presented a straightforward, account of the
situation at Walker Brothers, as the facts revealed it to
be. It was responsible journalism, as the public had a
right to know, said the defendants. Anyway, the law
permitted print and electronic media to comment fairly in
matters of public concern. If the situation were turned
around, it would put a crimp in investigative journalism. A
noble defense from the defendants.
By October 18, 1981, all of the witnesses had been heard,
and the plaintiffs made their address to the jury. He
prowled in front of the jury box, beginning light, with a
joke, and then escalating to listing all of the accusations
W5 made at Walker Brothers, and after each accusation, he
said the same two words: Not True. He said them until he
was screaming, and until the words echoed off of the
ceiling of the courtroom. A recess was called so the jury
could take its coffee break.
When the jury came back, the plaintiffs resumed their
address. The plaintiffs argued that W5 got hours of tapes
and cut them down into 18 minutes, something that would
make their show into something great and popular, and
something that would attract hundreds of viewers, and when
it was all finished, they said that Norris Walker was
negligent and crooked. Porter was building up to something
huge. It was the last two lines of his address: "When a man
dies, all he leaves behind is his reputation and his good
name." Court was adjourned for two and a half hours.
The jury retired to make its decision the next day. One
person asked the judge what the decision would be. He
responded that they might give the plaintiff something,
maybe twenty five thousand dollars, no more, because he was
libelled and because W5 didn't really seem to have cost the
company any appreciable loss of business.
The next day, the jury handed the court clerk its decision,
on two pieces of paper, which was handed to the judge. The
judge studied it for a moment, and was tempted to tell the
counsel how many zeroes he was looking at. Up until that
moment the most money awarded for libel was $125,000. The
figure the judge was looking at topped that figure by over
one million dollars.
The jury had found that W5 libelled Norris Walker and his
company, and it calculated the damages for libel in a
number of categories. $25,000 in personal damages, $50,000
in exemplary damages to W5 for its offensive journalism,
and an eye popping $883,000 in damages to the Walker
Brothers company computed at one dollar for every person
who was watching W5 the night W5 had broadcast that show,
plus interest from January 1, 1981 when the lawsuit was
initiated. Grand total: $1,372,048.
The preceding was an excellent example of how a judge must
sit and listen through over nine months of argument and
testimony. Patience is a virtue. Also, it was another good
example of where slander can get you. It can get you into
the hole of more than a million dollars. And, finally, it
shows how competing with another TV show for your own gain,
and hurting someone else to gain that, can hurt you even
more. A judge: The toughest job in the business.
1. JUDGES, Batten, Jack. Macmillan of Canada, 1986. Printed
in Canada. ??