An impatient judge has freed a number of people awaiting sentencing for crimes they pleaded guilty to - because a lawyer was late returning to his court.
Star.com reports that in the Canadian town of Newmarket, around 25km north of Toronto, Superior Court judge Howard Chisvin set free a dozen people in July after an assistant Crown attorney was six minutes late coming back from a break.
At 11.46am on 21 July, the judge said the missing lawyer had 30 seconds to get back to court. The lawyer had been paged on the intercom numerous times, but when he had not returned by 11.47am, Chisvin dismissed all matters for want of prosecution.
The lawyer returned at 11.53 with the judge telling him that "there was no Crown here for 10 minutes and you were paged and paged and paged".
The assistant attorney explained he was late coming back because he was studying a prisoner's psychiatric report in the Crown Attorney's office - where there is no intercom access.
Included amongst those who walked out of the courtroom as a free person was an alleged drunk driver who is believed to be a violent and paranoid schizophrenic, as well as a disbarred lawyer who was facing fraud charges.
Folklaw was relieved to find out that to bring some credit back to the Newmarket legal fraternity after the judge's whopper, the disbarred lawyer has agreed to reappear in court. The alleged drunk driver is still on the loose though.
Star.com further reported that Judge Chisvin has not been able to help Newmarket authorities in their attempt to re-arrest the accused criminals, as he is currently on holidays.
Unsurprisingly, the Newmarket chief prosecutor has complained about the judge's conduct to the Ontario Judicial Council.