A Progression of Judges: A History of the Supreme Court of British Columbia

By David R. Verchere | Go to book overview

TWELVE
The Unseemly Affair Concerning Hunter and Martin

Public disagreement between Hunter and Martin broke out early in 1907 and flourished for two full years. It was marked by the private exchange of vitriolic correspondence and the public exchange of discourteous and insulting remarks. A mutual antipathy between them had existed since 1898, when Martin had been appointed to the court; it became worse in 1902, when Hunter was appointed chief justice, with rank and precedence over all the judges of any court in the province. 1

Martin and Hunter's dislike for one another had its inception in a case in which Hunter, acting for the Daily Colonist in contempt proceedings brought against it by Duff on behalf of a client, challenged the legality of Martin's appointment to the bench. 2 That case, with many others like it, had arisen out of the provincial election held in 1898. It was a chaotic period politically: strict party discipline did not exist, and when the election ended, allegations of bribery and corruption abounded. Petitions to upset the results were filed in thirty ridings, and although Martin had been active politically before his appointment, he apparently had no objection or even hesitation in allowing himself to be injected into the fray. Not surprisingly, the Victoria Colonist complained in November and December that for him to hear any of the election cases was, among other things, "not edifying."

Martin ignored the Colonist's remarks, but Duff did not. Acting on behalf of a successful candidate whose victory was challenged by Hunter for the defeated candidate, he submitted a motion to cite the newspaper for

-127-

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