Witty Judge Pens Acerbic Judgment

GEO CASUALMr. Justice Joseph Quinn of the Ontario Superior Court well-deserves his international reputation as a clever intellect, a raconteur of immense talent, and a really funny scribe.

In one of his latest judgments, The Hearing Clinic (Niagara Falls) Inc. v. 866073 Ontario Limited, et al., 2014 ONSC 5831, his acerbic wit shines as he records his fond memories and legal findings of a 72-day trial, spread over three years, that dealt with the allegedly fraudulent sale and purchase of a hearing aid business in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The star witness in the case was Stefan Fridriksson, an audiologist who purchased a hearing aid business from the corporate defendant. While his lawyer referred to him as “Dr.”, Quinn J. put an end to that designation upon learning that the title was prohibited by the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario.

Blessed with an orderly mind, Justice Quinn set out a Table of Contents with headings that include:

“Is There a Doctor in the House?

“Fridriksson plays Lieutenant Columbo with Inspector Clouseau results”

“All the Madness That’s In Your Head”

“….Nor Hell A Fury Like an Audiologist Scorned”

“Fridriksson The Fabricator”

While trial counsel usually turns to the back page of Reasons for Judgment to see the results of a trial, in this case, the Table of Contents gave it all away.

Yes, the trial got off to a shaky start, described by Justice Quinn in his first paragraph:

“Leave an untruthful man in the witness box long enough and he will reveal himself to the world. Here ends the lesson, but not the story.”

Unfortunately, the first witness was Dr., no make that Mr. Fridriksson who according to Quinn J. “sub-let the witness box for 26 days” with dire results:

“He entered the box as an articulate professional with impressive academic credentials, displaying what appeared to be a sound and comprehensive recollection of events. When he stepped down, after more than 14 days of withering cross-examination, he was noticeably dazed, his credibility was reduced to existential confetti and he even appeared to be physically shorter than when the trial began.”

Fridriksson turned out to have a less than credible curriculum vitae. Where he noted he was a professor he wasn’t, when he said he was an adjunct professor, he wasn’t that either. What was he? An unpaid lecturer!

But that was the least of his problems. The Court identified the often troublesome task of determining credibility:

“We have no special powers in that realm and, wherever possible, avoid reliance upon darts, dice and Ouija boards. However, rarely, has a witness generously offered up so many reasons to be disbelieved. Fridriksson was an evidentiary gift who kept on giving. He ignored rule number one
in the Litigants’ Credo: “Know thyself, because others soon
will.” Enough of this preamble. Come with me now on a visit to the phantasmagorical work of Fridriksson. Pack light.”

But the quips keep on coming, like an avalanche:

“For Fridriksson truth is like a spandex undergarment:he can stretch it to fit anything.”

“Readers must never forget. This is a key witness for a plaintiff alleging oral false misrepresentations.”

“I do not know who enjoyed this cross-examination more, me or (defendant’s counsel). The only thing missing was popcorn.”

“His testimony deserves a special descriptor, coined for the occasion: “incredibull.”

This judgment tickled me so much that I recommend you read all 326 pages…it’s a laugh a minute. Oh, yeah, Fridriksson was awarded $423.00 in damages.

One last zinger:

“Fridriksson has taken everyone on a hideously time-consuming and obscenely expensive journey down his private yellow brick road to the outskirts of the Emerald City where, it appears, he has a residence. It was not a worthwhile adventure,” the judge writes.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

9 thoughts on “Witty Judge Pens Acerbic Judgment

    1. Dear Deep Thinker Thanks for your comment, however, on this one I have to disagree. If you have read other court decisions where truth has been an unknown quantity in the proceedings, you can compare the approaches. Justice Quinn favours humour and levity, but still makes his point, while most other judges shame and excoriate the evasive, prevaricating party. Yes, a liar is a liar and witnesses swear to tell the truth, but if you have never been cross-examined by a shark, parading as a lawyer, you have no idea. As for Fridriksson, he’s obviously a lost cause…just surprised his lawyer let him go through with it….Cheers! Lawdiva

      1. Law Diva,

        A colourful judgment such as this is disturbing, first coming from a judge, and secondly being supported by a lawyer on arguments that make the court process sound like a SNL production.

        Let’s be realistic here, the judge went too far and that means he brought the adminstration of justice into disrepute. Such conduct, from a judge is just as much worthy of rebuke.

        Good luck to the appellant I say

  1. Here’s an example of a quote that lowers the dignity of the Courts generally:

    “We have no special powers in that realm and, wherever possible, avoid reliance upon darts, dice and Ouija boards..,..

    This as you say is how he says credibility is determined by “we” judges. Take this literally LawDiva, because either the court of appeal must do so or it will have to pick and choose the facts from this judgment and be dragged down to this level too.

    Truly shocking conduct that is actually better characterized as misconduct.

  2. Deep Thinker If you think Mr. Justice Quinn’s Reasons in The Hearing Clinic case bring the administration of justice into disrepute you must read his Reasons in Bruni v. Bruni 2010 Ont. SC. The Reasons begin with “Paging Dr. Freud, Paging Dr. Freud”. BTW, in cases where credibility is a central issue, appeals are rarely pursued.

    1. I rest my case.
      Credibility is a finding of fact. If there is a suspicion the judge used a non-judicial process (darts, dice or ouija boards – his words) it is an error in law. The standard is correctness.

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