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Even More Quips from Mr. Justice Quinn

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Even More Quips from Mr. Justice Quinn

Those of you who have read my Blogs in the past will know that in the past I have highlighted some of the more amusing decisions written by Mr. Justice Quinn of the Family Court branch of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In a recent Family Law decision called Stirling v. Blake, Mr. Justice Quinn is in fine form yet again.

The factual background of the case – which involved an application by a mother to vary a prior order giving the father access to their children – is not really necessary to appreciate the literary flair that the judge demonstrates, in both the judgment itself and in numerous humorous footnotes. Mr. Justice Quinn begins his reasons in Stirling v. Blake with this opener:

In the period 2001-2013, these parties (individually or together) appeared in Family Court 65 times. At the St. Catharines Court House, they are more tenants than litigants.

After chronicling the mother’s various failed relationships with other men after her separation from the father, the judge wrote:

The fact that [the mother] appears to be a serial spouse is unsettling, but it is not terribly relevant to the motions.

In a footnote, Mr. Justice Quinn added:

If her current relationship fails, [the mother] should seek counselling with a view to determining why she has no talent for picking a mate. Alternatively, she should not live with or marry another man without the written permission of her six closest friends, who, no doubt, will see what she, so far, has failed to see.

Turning next to a description of the father, Mr. Justice Quinn observed:

[The father] is a 55-year-old, self-employed painter, sometimes likeable, frequently articulate and always passionate. He has been married, divorced and is a grandfather and, like so many of the poor souls who amble into Family Court, he has not learned from his mistakes. He is too busy perfecting them. [The father] dances to the tune of a different drummer.

In a footnote, he added:

In fact, so does his drummer.

About the father’s residence:

After making a point of defending the cleanliness of his apartment, he freely admitted that his premises “have clutter.” As he put it, the clutter consists of the evidence of “all of the past activities” of his children. Apparently, over the years, whatever the children have done in his apartment, he has left in place as some sort of shrine.

In the footnote, Mr. Justice Quinn writes:

This might be cute for a few days, but after years have gone by cute becomes creepy.

On the father’s admitted frequent marijuana use:

I was alarmed when I heard that [the father] uses marijuana with the same casual frequency that others drink coffee. But my eyebrows were the only ones in the courtroom that arched. His marijuana use is a fact known from 2001 onwards, yet it did not play a role in any of the orders that were made. Perhaps my alarm manifests a fuddy-duddy perspective (I am aware that the decriminalization of marijuana use currently is part of the platform of at least one Federal political party). I gave thought to ordering that [the father] not use marijuana when with the children. However, I abandoned the notion as it would be a mere finger-wagging order (I would be directing [the father] to behave himself and to not commit a criminal offence during access visits).

As an aside, in yet another footnote Mr. Justice Quinn added:

I might as well order Mr. Blake not to rob a bank while exercising access.

And finally, Mr. Justice Quinn observed:

In a trial involving self-represented litigants, my expectations are low: all I ask is that they be clothed. If they can fake civility toward each other and pretend to be respectful of the court, that is a merciful bonus.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Stirling v. Blake, 2013 ONSC 5216 (CanLII)

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.