With dozens of choice spots on the bench wide open, the usual sorts of self-promoting legalists are burnishing their Liberal credentials as they buck for their $300K judicial preferments.
Many hopefuls will assuredly find themselves far up the track from Nick Devlin, self-regarding senior counsel and Ontario appeals supremo for the Public Prosecution Service.
Nick did himself no favours during in the Harper era with his prosecutorial tormentings of notable Tories of Conviction™ Dean Del Mastro and Michael Sona.
If he faces sunnier career prospects now under Trudeau the Younger, it shurely didn’t hurt that he remembered to drop a crisp $1,000 on the campaign of Liberal MP Marco Mendicino.
Marco, who knocked off Tory Finance Minister Joe Oliver in the 2015 running of the reptiles, serendipitously now serves as parliamentary fartcatcher to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.
It is perhaps this confluence of happy accidents, and Nick’s pechant for getting up colleagues’ noses with his bald ambition, that has detractors retailing the severe spanking he sustained in the appeal courts last May.
The Nunavut Court of Appeal overturned his hard-won second-degree murder conviction of Adrian Van Eindhoven, accused of stabbing his common law spouse Leanne Irkotee in the course of a boozy domestic donnybrook.
Appeal Judge Jack Watson, a hard-assed former prosecutor himself, found our Nick, unnamed in the decision, had played the judge and jury like a double bell euphonium:
“ Crown Counsel’s approach to cross-examination and Crown’s closing address were essentially bent to the thesis that, if the appellant authored the stab wound to the victim’s chest, he was guilty of murder. It was put in cross-examination of the appellant that he knew that stabbing someone in the heart was likely to cause death. Crown Counsel and the trial judge gave pride of place to this aspect of the evidence. What the appellant might say in a court room ten years after the fact about what a physician might explain about the effect of wounds sheds no light on how a person might suffer such a wound in the course of a violent physical altercation involving two upset and intoxicated people, even if the violence was largely one-sided. The appellant’s acceptance of biomechanics was treated by the Crown as some sort of confession.
“ Worse, there was an implicit sting of the Crown’s arguments to the effect that, because the appellant’s trial version about accidental stabbing was not believable, this was makeweight on what his actual intent was a decade earlier.
“ Surrounding this distortive Crown theme in the Crown closing address were misstatements of evidence (some now admitted), offerings of speculation about significant events, invitations to unsupported character or sympathy assessments about the victim and the appellant, venturing of personal opinions, and generalities about social attitudes.”
Van Eindhoven got a new trial, and later pled guilty to manslaughter. Nick just carried on being brilliant. Did you know he was a gold medalist back at University of Calgary Law School, and clerked for Supreme Court Santa John Major? Just ask him. Or wait five minutes.