The suggestion made by Prof. Steven Salterio (see “Prof questions expertise of judges, Crowns following Nortel ruling), that the outcome of the Nortel trial might have been different if the trial judge had “more experience with corporate law” is truly ridiculous and made more so by his acknowledgment that he could not say whether the decision of the presiding judge was right or wrong.
The Nortel case was a criminal trial that required the application of the rigours of criminal law, including the onerous burden of proof resting on the Crown. Justice Frank Marrocco has extensive experience with criminal law and was well-equipped from every point of view to deal with the evidence tendered before him. If the accused are acquitted in these circumstances, it can be assumed that the Crown failed to prove its case.
The notion that the system requires that the presiding judge have specialized knowledge of business practice assumes that he might then apply his own views despite the evidence. It’s a frightening proposition. This is the adversary system, professor. You can have full confidence in Justice Marrocco.
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP,