03/19/2012 03:40 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Ontario judge reprimanded for 'high-handed' tactics after Crown late to court

TORONTO - An Ontario judge who got tired of waiting for a prosecutor to show up in court has been reprimanded for dismissing several cases waiting to be heard that day.

Justice Howard Chisvin of the Ontario Court of Justice entered the acquittals on July 21 last year, but the Crown appealed.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario posted a ruling today quashing Chisvin's order and allowing the appeal — calling the judge's actions "high-handed."

The appeal centred on the case of Mauro Siciliano, who had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of uttering a threat, possession of stolen property and breach of probation and was awaiting sentencing.

When the judge returned to court after a 20-minute break — and the Crown was not there — he sent word to the prosecutor that if he was not there in a minute, all remaining cases would be dismissed.

Efforts were made to contact the prosecutor but two minutes later, the trial judge dismissed all the day's remaining matters for want of prosecution, including Siciliano's.

The Appeal Court says in its ruling that the Crown attorney returned about eight minutes later. He apologized to the judge, saying he'd been in his office reading a pre-sentence report he had just received.

"That might be. Court comes when court is back," Chisvin replied, according to the ruling.

"You were paged. You were paged in the hallway, the Crown’s office was called, no Crown. They're dismissed for want of prosecution."

The Appeal Court said in allowing the appeal that the trial judge had no power to make the order.

"It was illegal and an abuse of judicial authority," the ruling said.

"The trial judge's actions were high-handed and did a real disservice to the proper administration of justice."

The three Appeal Court justices substituted convictions for the acquittals based on the guilty pleas by Siciliano and sent the matter back to the judge for sentencing.