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February 08 , 2008


Memoirs of a Criminal Court Judge


Soldier, university professor, lawyer, political candidate, and judge; David Vanek’s compelling life story has seen him in many roles, all of which are played out in these memoirs.

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The child of Jewish-Russian immigrants, Vanek encountered anti-semitism while growing up, but was able to overcome prejudice and rise to prominence. He was educated at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School (where he was in a Jewish fraternity with Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster) before serving in the Second World War. When the war was over, he returned to the University of Toronto to teach law, and opened his own practice. In 1963 he ran for Parliament as a member of the Progressive Conservative party.

In 1968 Vanek became a provincial court judge, and would preside over cases dealing with robbery, drugs, assault, gambling, pollution, and embezzlement, as well as the rights of citizens vs. the rights of police. His most high-profile case was that of Susan Nelles, a nurse at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children who was charged with the murders of four babies at the hospital.

Vanek went on to become the president of the Provincial Court Judges Association, and was active in campaigning for changes in how the courts treat young offenders.

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