Manitoba judge helps pro se traffic-camera defendant


Today’s Winnipeg Free Press article “Man beats photo radar: Manitoba judge tosses charge for speeding” (Jan 11 2007) shows that Canadian judges are willing to actively assist pro se litigants, by raising issues not addressed by the self-represented client.  (the text of the decision in HMQ v. Hykawy, Jan. 10, 2007, can be found at the foot of the article)

speedomterG  The article explains:

A self-described “Joe Blow” has beat his traffic-camera speeding charge, apparently with a loophole in the way the city prosecutes camera tickets. But it wasn’t due to Richard Hykawy’s polished legal skills. In fact, it was the judge who noted a problem with the prosecution and said he couldn’t in good conscience convict Hykawy.

In a decision Wednesday, provincial court Judge Marvin Garfinkel threw out Hykawy’s Aug. 7, 2005 speeding ticket because the Crown had not properly presented evidence the camera that clocked Hykawy was correctly calibrated.

“I find there are other issues that Mr. Hykawy did not raise,” Garfinkel said. “These issues came to my attention while I was reviewing the documents filed and emphasize the dilemma a judge faces during a trial with a self-represented litigant.

“The dilemma is when and how should a judge go into the arena. In this case, in my opinion, there are obvious imperfections in the Crown’s evidence, which require me to get into the fray in order to prevent an injustice occurring.”

See our prior posts “learning from Canadian judges” and “Canadian Judicial Council Issues Self-Representation Principles, as well as this posting on Australian and Queensland judges, and this one on Massachusetts judicial guidelines.


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