What happens if, during an ongoing trial, the presiding judge dies, is injured, or otherwise is unable to finish the trial?

  • Google found this: law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_63
    – Barmar
    Commented May 14 at 20:09
  • @Barmar It's more complex than that. It's a potential mistrial. As your link says, a judge takes over only when he "determine[s] that the case may be completed without prejudice to the parties." What are the issues? It's very difficult for a judge to step in the middle of a bench trial.
    – user71659
    Commented May 14 at 22:37

2 Answers 2


Criminal trials

Under s. 669.2 of the Criminal Code, where a judge dies or is for any reason unable to continue, the proceedings may be continued before another judge.

If it was a judge-alone trial, the judge shall "commence the trial again as if no evidence on the merits had been taken."

If there was a jury, the judge may

  • continue the trial, or
  • commence the trial again as if no evidence on the merits had been taken.

Civil trials

In a civil trial, this will depend on the province, but in Ontario:

Where a judge has commenced hearing a matter sitting alone and ... dies without giving a decision ... a party may make a motion to the chief judge for an order that the matter be reheard.


Under Criminal Rule 25, a new judge will be appointed to hear the case. That judge can either familiarize himself with the record and resume the trial, or he can order a new trial.

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