Friday, June 21, 2024

Foreign Affair: Canadian Superior Justice Dated Defendant’s Wife’s Best Friend While Overseeing Trial, Refused to Recuse


I’ve been telling you Steven Nowack, stuck in a Toronto prison limbo while the judge in his case refuses to have a bail hearing. Nowack has been in prison over 90 days.

Justice Robert Goldstein of the Superior Court of Ontario conducted Nowack’s trial in a most unusual way. When it was discovered that Goldstein was dating Nowack’s wife’s best friend, he refused to recuse himself.

Yes, this really happened. Justice Goldstein had an intimate relationship with this very close friend of Mr. Nowack’s wife for approximately four months. Their relationship apparently ended about 2 1/2 months before Mr. Nowack’s trial began. In fact, Mr. Nowack had such explicit knowledge of their relationship and communication that his lawyer, Paul Slansky submitted to Justice Goldstein that Mr. Nowack even knew that Justice Goldstein and his wife’s friend had spoken in late December, 2018.

Nevertheless, the trial began on February 4, 2019.

Slansky made the recusal motion based on the legal argument “apprehension of bias.”  Justice Goldstein, heard the arguments, reserved and retired to his office for approximately forty five minutes.  He then returned to the bench with the following decision. He would not recuse.  He said that he may have heard Mr. Nowack’s wife’s name, but did not remember hearing Mr. Nowack’s name. He said that if during the trial, he remembered hearing anything about Mr. Nowack that would cause him to be biased or prejudiced, that he would consider recusing.

The prosecutor, Renna Weinberg, didn’t have a problem with the judge sleeping with the defendant’s wife’s friend. In court, she said that given the small towns and cities in Canada, that this was not an unusual or uncommon situation, as very often in these small towns and cities, the trial judge had relationships. She pretended they were in a small village in the Yukon, not Toronto with a population of 3-to-5 million people.

Weinberg also made the stunning submission to Justice Goldstein, that it would have been an entirely different matter if he had been sleeping with Mr. Nowack’s wife. That would have bothered her.

I must say, I had higher hopes for Canada and its judicial system. I also had high hopes for journalists there to look at these stories. So far we’ve heard crickets. I get the feeling no reporters want to question authority there.

Paul Slansky, Nowack’s defense attorney, replied to Renna Weinberg’s response by pointing out that Toronto is not a small town or small city, that it is one of the largest cities in North America, and that the pool of judges in the Toronto region would make it relatively easy to change judges. This would especially be true because as this was the first day of the trial, the trial judge is not supposed to have any detailed knowledge of the case; specifically to avoid bias or prejudice against the accused.

Still, Justice Goldstein refused to recuse himself from the case. In the United States, Goldstein would have been forced off the trial. But in Canada, he got away with it.

Unfortunately, for Nowack and his family, this shocking story goes on and on. With no bail hearing, Nowack has now spent nearly three months in unreasonable, arbitrary incarceration.

The question is when will all of this insanity end?

And yes, could call this “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” The first two have already been presented. The videotape will come into play soon enough.



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News