The wait is finally over for Stacy Sheene.
For nearly two years, she had been waiting for a Brampton judge to release his ruling on how much she was owed in legal costs after she was successful on a motion in her family court case.
On Thursday morning, the day after the Star published a story on Sheene’s dilemma, Superior Court Justice David Price finally issued his decision and awarded Sheene about $15,000.
“I’m so, so happy, unbelievably happy, I kind of wish I had reached out to you over a year ago,” Sheene told the Star Thursday.
She added it was “absolutely absurd” that she had to reach out to the media in order to get the judge’s attention. For over a year, she had politely inquired about the status of the ruling, sending faxes and speaking with the judge’s assistant, but never got a response as to when she could expect a decision.
An almost two-year wait for a ruling is unusual. The Canadian Judicial Council, which handles complaints about federally-appointed judges such as those who preside in Superior Court, says that judgments should be rendered within six months unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Price’s 23-page ruling, dated Nov. 1, summarizes Sheene’s family court proceedings in Brampton, the positions of the parties on costs and the case law on costs orders.
It makes no mention of the delay.
“It amazes me too that he was able to come up with 23 pages that quickly, or was it just sitting there?” Sheene said.
“That’s what frustrating about it too; if you could get it together in less than 24 hours, why didn’t you do that two years ago?”
The Superior Court told the Star that Price would not be commenting, as judges do not normally comment to the press.
Norine Nathanson, senior counsel in the office of the chief justice, said the court has “taken action” to ensure that costs rulings that have not been released yet are tracked in the same way the court tracks other judgments.
Nathanson also said that if a party is having no success following up on a ruling, they can reach out to the regional senior justice, something Sheene said she only learned about when she read it in the Star’s initial story on her case.
“Who would know that? If the people working for the court don’t tell you that, how are you supposed to know?” Sheene said, saying she had repeatedly called the judge’s assistant since last year asking if there was anything she could do to make the process go faster and was only told she could fax the judge another letter.
Sure enough, late Wednesday afternoon, the same day the Star made its inquiries to the Superior Court about Price’s ruling, Sheene and her ex-partner’s lawyers received a letter from Regional Senior Justice Peter Daley indicating that Price would have to release his ruling by Friday, Nov. 2. The letter was copied to Price and Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith.
Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter covering legal affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant