Thirty years spent judging Princeton

Thirty years spent judging Princeton

Judge Gale Sinclair rests his case

It’s not every day, outside of a Hollywood film set, that spectators in court burst into applause.

But that’s what happened during Princeton circuit court in December, when Judge Gale Sinclair, 69, announced his retirement and expressed his pleasure over 30 years of presiding in judgment over the Town of Princeton.

“I have always enjoyed coming to Princeton, and I would like to say that for the record.”

Sinclair has been as much a fixture in Princeton court as his dais and his gavel.

In an interview with The Spotlight, he reflected on a career that brought him to town frequently, although he was reluctant to name the highlights.

“There’s been some interesting stuff but I can’t really pin point anything.”

Sinclair said he has always enjoyed a casual court atmosphere.

“I think that’s fair. I like to sort of be on the same plane as people so I like to keep it casual and friendly.”

During one remarkable sitting earlier this year, a defendant addressed the court and asked Sinclair if he would like to go for coffee.

“We can do that when I retire,” said the judge.

Sinclair has watched people grow up in Princeton.

“I had a grandpa as a client [forty years ago when he was a lawyer in Penticton]. I’ve had his son and grandson in court.”

He has often seen the same defendants, over and over again, before his bench.

“I just look and think ‘my goodness you are back here again. What are you here for?’”

And he expressed empathy for many of the people that have appeared before him.

“I’m just a guy and I don’t judge people. I judge what they have done. There are so many people that are so disadvantaged. You have to do your best to accommodate them.”

He well remembers Princeton lawyer Stan Turner, who died two years ago.

“I loved Stanley Turner. It’s just not the same without hi…so put a plug in there for him okay?”

Sinclair said he has always liked the variety that circuit court provides.

“Give me a good civil case. I enjoy that…I like criminal cases but my least favorite is family cases because they are so tragic.”

While Sinclair will never preside in Princeton again, he has a few more months on the bench in Penticton.

After that, he plans to travel with his wife and spend more time with his stepson.

Parting from the law is not bittersweet, he said.

“I know it’s time for me to go, so I’m going to go.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Fiction writing contest
A call to writers in the Okanagan

UBCO holds annual fiction writing contest

Vaccine rollout is focused on health care workers first, especially those dealing with long-term care facilities. (Nathan Denette - Canadian Press)
General public shouldn’t expect vaccines until fall: Interior Health

Interior Health focused on vaccinating long-term and first-line care workers

A mother hold hands with her daughter while sharing about her struggles with addiction during Overdose Awareness Day. (Jesse Major/Black Press file)
Overdose and suicide support group starts in Penticton

Penticton was one of the province’s communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis in 2020

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has given first reading to its 2021 budget. (RDOS image)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen budget to rise by 2.8 per cent

Impact of budget increase will not be the same in all communities or electoral areas

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Kevin Lee Barrett is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Facebook)
Court hears of victim’s injuries in West Kelowna attempted murder trial

Two-week-long trial continues for Kevin Barrett, accused of trying to kill mother in West Kelowna

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

McBain Insurance in Summerland gave a donation of $816 to Angus Place. The money will go towards a new floor in the bathing room in the seniors care facility. From left are Chris Emmons of McBain Insurance, Stacey Schieman of McBain Insurance and Charmaine Kramer of Parkdale Place Housing Society. (Contributed)
Donation to help with bathing room work at Summerland seniors facility

Earlier contribution will be used to replace aging tub at Angus Place

The steel mills in the Hamilton waterfront harbour are shown in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Dyer: Stay the course on Carbon pricing

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Voting is the number one, bare minimum way to have your voice heard by government. (File photo)
Jocelyn’s Jottings: Want to make change? Here are some suggestions

As a citizen you have a voice, you just have to know who to talk to

Most Read