Appeal from sexual assault conviction. Issue on appeal of whether numerous interventions by the trial judge resulted in an unfair trial or apprehension of bias. Trial judge’s interjections during testimony included taking “judicial notice of what is required to remove one’s pants” at a critical point in cross-examination of complainant regarding whether she had cooperated in undressing.

Held: Appeal dismissed.

A “more restrained approach” would have been preferable, but the “trial judge’s interventions were largely for the purpose of clarifying the evidence….[t]o the extent that some questions went further, the interventions do not suggest that he had prejudged the evidence or was treating the appellant unfairly.” From the perspective of a reasonable, informed observer as per Valley, [1986] OJ No 77 (Ont CA), overall impact of interjections did not establish unfairness or a reasonable apprehension of bias.  Berger JA dissented.

M. Bates – Defence Counsel