Reflections on Justice John Matheson’s Landmark Decision in Clark v Clark

  • August 16, 2017
  • BakerLaw

In 1982, Justin Clark made history when he successfully defeated his parents’ application to have him declared legally incapable of making his own decisions. Justin had lived in the Rideau Regional Centre in Lanark County for 18 of his 20 years of life, and suffered multiple disabilities as a result of cerebral palsy. Bakerlaw’s David Baker represented Justin on the case – see our blog post here (link).

Instrumental in this case were the efforts of the presiding judge, Justice John Ross Matheson, who emphatically and eloquently concluded his decision by stating:

“We have, all of us, recognized a gentle, trusting, believing spirit and very much a thinking human being who has his unique part to play in our compassionate interdependent society.

And so, in the spirit of that liberty which learned hand tells us seeks to understand the minds of other men, and remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded, I find and I declare Matthew Justin Clark to be mentally competent.”

The Canadian Association for Community Living (“CACL”) has published an article commemorating Justice Matheson, written by Audrey Cole and Dr. Melanie Panitch. The authors were present throughout the trial and pay homage to Justice Matheson’s particular respect for human dignity throughout. You can read their article here (link).

Justice Matheson passed away on December 27, 2013, at the age of ninety-six. Efforts are currently underway to create a memorial in Justice Matheson’s honour.

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