The chambers judge followed his practice of cutting and pasting paragraphs from the briefs filed by the parties, having those paragraphs retyped, and then signing them as “Reasons for Judgment”. The decision at 2011 ABQB 595 is 67 paragraphs long, and the decision at 2011 ABQB 596 is 78 paragraphs long. ... Every one of the paragraphs in the reasons was extracted, essentially verbatim, from the chambers briefs. There is no independent authorship. Even spelling mistakes in the briefs are faithfully carried forward.
So what's the problem? The appellate court explains:
Deciding between competing adversarial positions is at the core of the judicial function, but so is explaining how the eventual result was reached. ... This fundamental judicial obligation cannot be discharged without the judge conducting an independent analysis of the case, and articulating it in appropriate form. ... The repute of the administration of justice depends in the end on litigants having confidence in and respect for the decisions that affect their rights, whether they won or lost. It is imperative that the litigants feel that they were fairly dealt with, that their arguments and evidence were considered, and that a principled, balanced, transparent, independent and impartial analytical process has been applied in reaching the final decision. To a great extent, whether these objectives are achieved depends on the reasons that are given in support of any particular result. ... Previous decisions have commented on the problems that result when a chambers judge merely copies the briefs filed, rather than composing original reasons. Because they are prepared in an adversarial context, the briefs of the parties tend to be “one-sided”. They generally tend to place the position of that litigant in the best possible light, and downplay (or even ignore) the arguments, authorities, and evidence in support of the opposite side. Merely copying those briefs often results in a failure to select in a judicial way from the evidence and legal authorities, with a resulting failure to assimilate the competing positions in a transparent and defensible manner.