Feature Blogger: Reché McKeague
On May 20, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released a judgment that quickly went viral. Morland-Jones v Taerk, 2014 ONSC 3061, was described variously by people in my social media feeds as “not just a judgment, but rather perhaps the most perfect short story I have read,” “litigious ridiculousness,” and, simply, “awesome.”
What kind of judgment engenders this kind of interest and response from lawyers? One which is changing the law as we know it? One dealing with matters of national importance? No. The judgment at issue, viewed over 38,500 times in its first 48 hours on CanLII and with two commentaries on CanLII Connects within a day, is about bickering neighbours.
The parties “live in stately houses on a well-manicured, picturesque street” in Toronto. The plaintiffs have two of their 11 security cameras trained on the defendants’ front door and driveway. (The defendants did not counter-claim.) The plaintiffs’ allegations against their across-the-street neighbours include:
The subject-matter of the claim is certainly ridiculous. This may be part of the reason for the judgment’s popularity. However, what really makes the judgment fun to read is the judge’s obvious disdain for the parties: “In my view, the parties do not need a judge; what they need is a rather stern kindergarten teacher.” At least one commentator has suggested that the tone of the judgment is inappropriate, and that “[i]t is not the duty of the judge to make fun of the litigants.” Be that as it may, it is the most entertaining judgment I’ve read since R v Duncan, 2013 ONCJ 160.