In a 2012 case, Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench (now King's Bench) of Alberta, J.D. Rooke, wrote a decision which ran to 176 pages and contained what was essentially a thesis on Sovereign Citizens and similar persons who use pseudo-legal arguments to attempt to achieve their ends in court. The case of Meads v Meads has become fairly famous and somewhat influential, which seems to have been what the judge was hoping for.

However, on what basis did the judge decide to stray beyond the matter immediately before him (a divorce dispute)? The Meads decision categorised several different (albeit related) types of vexatious litigant. Surely Meads himself was just one type, so the others were not relevant in the immediate context of the case. In terms of court procedure, it seems to me that J.D. Rooke probably should have written a much shorter decision, relevant only to the facts immediately before him, and published the rest as an article in a law journal.

Is there any reasonable constraint on how much a judge can or should write in a decision? How common is it for judges to sneak essays into their rulings? Given that this was a civil case between two private citizens, using the opportunity to address the nation, as it were, seems out of place.

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These decisions are inherently individual. The judge in this case explained the reasons why he thought it would be helpful to set out the full context of organized pseudo-legal commercial arguments. Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571:

[2] Over a decade of reported cases have proven that the individual concepts advanced by OPCA litigants are invalid. What remains is to categorize these schemes and concepts, identify global defects to simplify future response to variations of identified and invalid OPCA themes, and develop court procedures and sanctions for persons who adopt and advance these vexatious litigation strategies.

[3] ... One of the purposes of these Reasons is, through this litigant, to uncover, expose, collate, and publish the tactics employed by the OPCA community, as a part of a process to eradicate the growing abuse that these litigants direct towards the justice and legal system we otherwise enjoy in Alberta and across Canada. I will respond on a point-by-point basis to the broad spectrum of OPCA schemes, concepts, and arguments advanced in this action by Mr. Meads.

[5] The Meads case illustrates many characteristic features of OPCA materials, in court conduct, and litigation strategies. These Reasons will, therefore, explain my June 8, 2012 decision and provide analysis and reasoning that is available for reference and application to other similar proceedings.

[6] Naturally, my conclusions are important for these parties. However, they also are intended to assist others, who have been taken in/duped by gurus, to realize that these practices are entirely ineffective; to empower opposing parties and their counsel to take action; and as a warning to gurus that the Court will not tolerate their misconduct.

One of the roles of a judge in the common-law legal system is to guide the development of the law. By describing this collection of vexatious tactics, the judge was hoping to allow future courts to simplify court responses to these tactics in future cases.

While the reasons in Meads were written prior to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, it is consistent with the Supreme Court's direction to create an environment that promotes timely access to justice.

Increasingly, there is recognition that a culture shift is required in order to create an environment promoting timely and affordable access to the civil justice system. This shift entails simplifying pre-trial procedures and moving the emphasis away from the conventional trial in favour of proportional procedures tailored to the needs of the particular case. The balance between procedure and access struck by our justice system must come to reflect modern reality and recognize that new models of adjudication can be fair and just.

By helping other judges efficiently understand and dispose of pseudo-legal commercial arguments, the reasons in Meads further the goals of access to justice. This implication was recongized in Jarvis v. Morlog, 2016 ONSC 4476:

In my view, precious judicial time should be spent on resolving real matters. Simply taking judicial time to respond seriously to OPCA claims gives the claimants a measure of success in advancing their improper purposes. Associate Chief Justice Rooke spent more than enough of his very valuable time creating a textbook of abusive OPCA practices in Meads v. Meads. In my view, not another moment of judicial resources or party expense should be invested on OPCA claims.

The legacy of Meads is examined by Donald J. Netolitzky, "After the Hammer: Six Years of Meads v. Meads" (2019). He argues that the judge was successful in this goal. He also agrees with you that this decision is "exceptional": in the breadth of its investigation and its choice of audience (at times speaking "directly to those who use and promote OPCA concepts"). He notes that Meads has been accepted in subsequent jurisprudence as a "critical resource" in Canada and around the world.

While one might expect that the material in Meads would have been the more appropriate role of an academic article, Netolitzky observes that "[i]n Canada, legal academia has paid essentially no attention to pseudolaw, both before and after Meads." Perhaps had there been a helpful body of academic literature, Meads would have been unnecessary.

Netolitzky argues that the reasons in Meads reflected "trial court expertise." These matters tend not to end up in courts of appeal. He also agrees with your analogy to an academic article, calling this a "review judgment" (like a "review article"). He says that Meads "atypical content" was needed to "fill a gap in legal literature" and that it was sufficiently connected with the materials and arguments put forward in the case. "Without that context, Meads is a bizarre, inexplicable actor, a caricature of vexatious litigation."

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    FWIW, long decisions are not uncommon in cases where the issue is fairly novel, enters into unfamiliar territory with only shallow or weakly on point precedents, and raise an issue of great importance. The issue that Meads addressed is one in which the Colorado state legislature and its judges engaged in similar litigation related to this movement a few years earlier and it was of great concern to members of the judiciary and elected officials as they were frequent targets of vexatious quasi-legal harassment from members of this movement.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 27, 2022 at 0:01

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