They may not have agreed with every decision, including his retirement, but one thing is for sure, lawyers who worked with Justice Richard Byers agree “he got it right and his rulings were always fair”.
With his wife Carol by his side, Picton Superior Court Justice Richard Byers retired on Tuesday, after 28 years on the bench.
Speaking to a full gallery of members of the Hastings County Law Association at the Quinte Consolidated Courthouse, Hastings County Crown Attorney Lee Burgess said when they learned Justice Byers was retiring they were planning an intervention.
“One could not call you dispassionate because you are always passionate about your community, about justice and the bar that appeared in front of you,” Burgess said.
He praised Byers for leaving behind a legacy for lawyers and the justice community.
Federal Crown Attorney Joanne Hurley worked with Justice Byers for 30 years and praised him for being a teacher and a generous mentor.
“You advice was unstinting and could not have been bestowed on a more grateful recipient,” she told Byers.
“Barring and in good temperament you were meant to be a judge.”
“You always listened and were honest. There was not a whisper of arrogance or false pride.”
Justice Byers, overwhelmed by the showing of gratitude quoted the infamous Bette Midler.
“I always felt the lawyers were the wind beneath my wings,” he said. “I am so proud of them. You are better than you know.”
As for what’s next, Byers says he plans to renovate his property adding “maybe I’ll get a tattoo.”