B.C. Supreme Court Jusice Glen Parrett's passion for the law makes him a fierce critic of those who do not hold the law in the same regard he does.
He has presided over many difficult cases during his years on the bench in Prince George and he holds everyone accountable, not just the defendants but witnesses, lawyers, police and the news media.
Over the years, he has clashed with former and current Citizen reporters (and with me personally) when he has felt our reporting and opinion pieces on legal matters were in the wrong or violated the rights of a defendant to a fair trial.
His criticism this week of the Prince George RCMP's handling of Sylvain Victor Roy's body, after it was found in an empty lot at Yew and Winnpeg on the evening of July 29, 2010, was standard for Judge Parrett - brutally honest and to the point.
Parrett was "shocked and astounded" that police left the body overnight at the scene at the height of summer, stating he saw "no evidence whatsover of a single foresnic step being taken the next day with the exception of videotaping the scene."
The judge said the scene depicted on the video was a disgrace, noting that police had more than three hours of daylight remaining to do their work when the body was found.
He went on to say he will assist Crown counsel in raising legal concerns about how Roy's body was dealt with at the scene. He also suggested Crown look at the section of the Canadian Criminal Code relating to indignities to a human body.
Parrett also dismissed one officer's testimony, noting it contradicted accounts by other officers, ambulance personnel and a blood-alcohol test of Patrick Methewsie, the man accused of Roy's murder.
"The [officer's] evidence is patently wrong in my view and I have looked at that evidence very carefully," Parrett told the court.
The judge is scheduled to issue his verdict on Tuesday morning, where, if past precedent is any indication, Parrett will put his displeasure with the RCMP's handling of this case in writing.
Parrett, along with the rest of his Prince George-based colleagues on the bench in provincial court and B.C. Supreme Court, have difficult jobs, to put it mildly.
Anyone who thinks it's easy being a judge and the bench is just a bully pulpit from which to throw copies of the Criminal Code at people simply have no idea. Judges stand at a crucial fulcrum in Canadian society, where the law on which our democracy stands must be interpreted. This is no simple matter.
It requires incredible intelligence, an encyclopedic knowledge not only of the law but of legal precedent, combined with the ability to apply that knowledge and intelligence to each unique case, absorbing its intricacies and latching onto the key, important points.
Unfortunately, all most people have are TV shows and movies (and American ones at that, which suspend disbelief in exchange for entertainment) on which to base their understanding of what goes on in a courtroom.
In the real world, much of the testimony by witnesses is focussed on basic facts and details, while much of the complex debates between lawyers hang on the previous interpretations and applications of miniscule but critical points of law. After each is adjourned, the judge retreats to his or her chambers to further analyze that day's evidence and legal arguments, much like a scientist returning to the lab after collecting data in the field.
It is painstakingly meticulous work, made even more challenging when the crimes are particularly violent and disturbing and/or involve children.
Like Parrett did this week, judges can - and should - come down harshly on lawyers and/or police officers (and even other judges in lower courts) for their mistakes, since the law is their job. Judges takes their role in administering justice most seriously and so it upsets them greatly when errors are made that make their job more difficult or even impossible.
-- Managing editor Neil Godbout