A judge’s political stripe and gender have a significant impact on their rulings in certain types of cases in the Ontario Court of Appeal, says a new study that rocks the belief in judicial impartiality.
“The assumption that this study challenges is one of the bedrock assumptions in our legal system,” said James Stribopoulos, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and study co-author. “I think most lawyers would tell you that ‘it depends on the judge.’ But this proves that it definitely does.”
A judge’s gender became most pertinent in family law disputes. When men appeal a ruling, all-male panels were statistically slightly kinder to female litigants. Litigants who were successfully acquitted on a Charter challenge were 10 per cent more likely to get that acquittal affirmed by a panel with at least one female judge — at 87 per cent — than they were with an all-male panel, at 70 per cent.