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Ontario Justice Bruce Pugsley's recent comments in family court

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  • Ontario Justice Bruce Pugsley's recent comments in family court

    From the Canada Court Watch Site

    Ontario Justice Bruce Pugsley's recent comments in family court

    Have your say!

    In a recent family court decision, Ontario Court Justice Bruce Pugsley criticized a parent for using a recording device to record some of the inappropriate and disgusting comments that the other parent had made after their breakup. In court, Justice Pugsley stated, "Surreptitious recording to telephone calls by litigants in family law matters should be strongly discouraged. There is already enough conflict and mistrust in family law cases, without the parties worrying about whether the other is secretly taping them...."

    Justice Pugsley's comments would suggest that he believes recording can only achieve negative results - to make matters worse between parents with no positive benefits. Justice Pugley's comments would suggest that somehow separated parents will work more cooperatively if they are assured that what they say or do is not being recorded by the other side. Based on Justice Pugsley's comments, those in the legal profession could begin to use Justice Pugsley's logic to argue that it will cause stress as well to record those high paid CAS workers, police and other court related professionals who are known to obstruct justice and lie to the courts from time to time. If it is to the benefit of parents not to do things which may aggravate the other, then why do the courts and all the lawyers support the ADVERSARIAL family court system and force parents there in the first place. Why is it that the lawyers engage the other side using exaggerated court documents and false allegations. Seems like those in the legal system speak out of both sides of their mouths at the same time

    To the contrary of Justice Pugsly's statement, many parents claim that they have been innocent victims of false allegations by another parent and feel that recording of phone calls and personal exchanges is one of the most reliable ways in which to protect themselves from false allegations. Some parents have reported to Court Watch that the use of recording devices has been so instrumental in their matter, that in some cases the practice has successfully prevented them from being arrested and thrown in jail because of false allegations made by another parent or their supporters. Some parents feel that in the environment of family courts where it is one party's word against the other, recording is the only way to accurately record past events when parties give conflicting stories. The National Chairman of Canada Court Watch, the Archbishop Dorian A. Baxter, used hidden recording devices to catch children's Aid Society workers in the act of extortion and perjury. In many cases, recordings of children being abused have been instrumental in ending the abuse of children.

    Many citizens would say that no reasonable person should object to being recorded as those who are acting in a respectful manner and within the law should have nothing to hide and should not be afraid of recording anything they may say or do. Only those who have something to hide would object to being recorded. It is acknowledged even by family court judges that perjury is rampant in family court and that in this day of small personal recording devices, that everyone should benefit from the security of such devices if that is their choice. Many believe that recordings will help reduce the devastation caused by false allegations and that overall, the benefits and protections offered by recording devices, far outweigh arguments which claim that the unobtrusive recording of another party increases conflict.

    From a more legal perspective, Justice Pugsley's statement would appear to have him making statements which would be considered as being outside of his jurisdiction as a judge. This is a no-no. First of all it is perfectly legal in Canada to record one's own communication with another person. Justice Pugsley should not be making negative comments on actions of individuals which are considered fully within the law. He should remain silent on this issue in his court. Also under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals have the right to take whatever reasonable measures they feel necessary to protect the "security of their person". In a family court environment where perjury is rampant and accepted by the judges, most litigants feel that they must resort to the use of recording devices to protect themselves. For Justice Pugsley to even suggest that parents must give up their lawful rights to protect themselves from lies and perjury is totally wrong and shows utter disregard to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and utter disregard to the rights of citizens to protect themselves from harm.

    Many citizens would say that Justice Pugsley's comments in his court are just another example of how Judges and the legal system in general are trying to stop the growing use of recording devices because the use of such devices poses a threat to the legal system by promoting accountability and transparency. Recordings will reduce the ability of lawyers to argue about the truth in court and therefore lessen the amount of money that lawyers can charge . Video and audio surveillance is proving to be one of the best protections against crime and wrongdoings by individuals, so why is it that Justice Pugsley and some of his fellow judges are so opposed to its use? On what planet do some of these judges live on to come up with these sorts of conclusions? There is likely no body of credible evidence to support Justice Pugsley's comments which now has proudly become precedent setting case law in the Province of Ontario. Some would say this is yet another example of Judge made law and just another reason why Canadians need to have elected judges so that they can get rid of the ones whose judgments make no sense!

    So what do you think about parents being allowed to record each other as part of gathering evidence or as part their plan to defend themselves against false allegations in family court? Taking all relevant factors into consideration, is Justice Pugsley correct to criticize parents for the general practice of recording or is he wrong? Have your say as a citizen by voting. Please provide a written comment to support your vote in our new poll as the comments will be helpful to make a difference.


  • #2
    Thanks for the post, wouldn't it be great if people of influence could read and act on the results of this!


    • #3
      This article also has an ongoing poll on whether you agree with the Justice or Disagree. See the results here:

      So far it appears an overwhelming majority of people that particpated in the poll disagree with Justice Pugsley.


      • #4
        Holy moly.


        • #5
          Recordings have a way of proving one's innocence. The courts are then forced to act on the lies told in court. It forces the judge to do something, and make a decision based on the evidence before them, rather than their own bias.

          Why do judges demand to see assessments in custody cases when there is already compelling evidence to show cause that one parent is bad? It is because the judges want to be able to lay their responsibility on someone else's report and judgement, therefore eliminating any scrutiny of themselves.


          • #6
            I personally own three recorders. Keep one in the car, one attached to the phone, and one in my purse...I also recommend everyone own one in marital strife.

            Example: A phonecall with my stepdaughter. Mom accused me of an inappropriate conversation. Dad and I disagreed. Mom admitted that the conversation would have been appropriate had it occurred two months later, while stepdaughter was in our care. If Mom should decide to claim in court that I have "inappropriate conversations" with my stepdaughter? I have her on tape saying that she felt it would have been appropriate had I waited to discuss...timing makes the difference? really? So....not inappropriate

            After that incident, I started recording every interaction between my stepdaughter and myself, because I refuse to be another barrier to the relationship between stepdaughter and her dad....and I told Mom as much. Makes for less tension all around, albeit more muting on the other end of the line...

            Call me cynical, but I see the worst of it every day, and I practise the CMA standard....COVER MY ASS!


            • #7
              The adversarial system provides lawyers with their bread and butter. Without that, there would be less need for lawyers and justices...and we would see the profession shrink. No lawyer wants that. No judge wants it either. As more people begin to stand up for reform in the system, I would expect more justices and lawyers to speak out, making stupid comments.

              However, if you hold yourself to your actions and words, always with dignity, you likely have no issue with digital voice recording evidence.


              • #8
                It is the parent's who go to court with accusations of bad behavior that are the ones who fear recordings, not the parents being accused.


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