S Fine: The new face of judicial defiance


KITCHENER, ONT. — The Globe and Mail

PublishedFriday, Dec. 13 2013, 10:46 PM EST

Last updatedFriday, Dec. 13 2013, 10:46 PM EST

Justice Colin Westman still remembers when, as a young lawyer who had barely outgrown a pampered childhood in Shawinigan, Que., he first read the pre-sentence reports that contain the life stories of convicted men and women.

“It was like fiction,” the 70-year-old father of two tells a reporter in his Kitchener, Ont., office during a morning break from court. “I couldn’t believe the tragic backgrounds of some of these people. From the day they were born, they were behind the eight-ball.”

Today, after more than two decades of seeing a steady procession of those people, whom he calls broken souls, in his courtroom, Justice Westman has become one of many in several provinces defying the spirit, and sometimes the letter, of the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime agenda. Continue reading

Canadian Judicial Council announces next steps in the review of a matter involving the Honourable Michel Déziel

For the original post on the CJC website, click HERE

Ottawa, 22 November 2013 –The Canadian Judicial Council announced today that a Panel of three judges will undertake further review of the conduct of the Honourable Michel Déziel.

Allegations surrounding the conduct of Justice Déziel were raised in the context of an ongoing Commission of Inquiry and were brought to the attention of Council in May 2013. In accordance with the Complaints Procedures of Council, these allegations were considered by the Honourable Edmond Blanchard, Vice-Chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee of Council. Having considered all the available information, including the judge’s response to the allegations, Chief Justice Blanchard has decided that this matter would benefit from further consideration by a Panel of three judges. Continue reading

Update on Lori Douglas Inquiry: Inquiry Committee Resigns

From the Canadian Judicial Council website:

Ottawa, 20 November 2013 –The members of the Inquiry Committee appointed to review a matter involving Associate Chief Justice Douglas have announced their resignation, effective immediately. The Committee has released reasons for its decision, which are available on the website of the Canadian Judicial Council. In its reasons, the Inquiry Committee notes a number of factors that led to its decision, and notes that the public interest would not be served by ongoing delays, public expenditures and uncertainty about the process itself.

Currently, the Federal Court is scheduled to hear a challenge from Associate Chief Justice Douglas about a number of issues. Some questions remain about whether these proceedings will go ahead as planned.

Council’s mandate and duty is to ensure that the review of allegations against the judge can proceed in accordance with the provisions of theJudges Act and with Council’s By-laws in a fair and expeditious manner, in keeping with the public interest. In due course, another inquiry committee may be appointed in respect of Associate Chief Justice Douglas.

Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 302

J Rozenburg: Judges Could Quit Over Pensions

Monday 17 June 2013 by Joshua Rozenberg wrote a brief article for the Law Gazette in the UK, on Judges, pensions and work in retirement.  Click HERE

Stephen Pitel and Will Bentolin discuss a range of issues that arise in retirement for Judges in their article “Revising Canada’s Ethical Rules for Judges Returning to Practice” available on SSRN HERE. Continue reading

Cojocaru v. British Columbia Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, 2013 SCC 30

Judgments and orders — Reasons — Trial judge delivering reasons for judgment consisting of reproduction of plaintiffs’ written submissions — Whether trial judge’s decision should be set aside because reasons for judgment incorporated large portions of material prepared by others.

From the judgment:

The question before us is whether a trial judge’s decision should be set aside because his reasons incorporate large portions of material prepared by others, in this case the plaintiffs.

1.         A Matter of Procedure

[12]                           Judicial decisions can be set aside either for substantive errors or procedural errors.  A complaint that a judge’s decision should be set aside because the reasons for judgment incorporate materials from other sources is essentially a procedural complaint.  It goes not to whether the decision is correct on the merits having regard to the evidence and the law, but to whether the process by which it was reached is procedurally fair.  A fair process requires not only that the parties be allowed to submit evidence and arguments to the judge, but that the judge decide the issues independently and impartially as the judge is sworn to do.  Extensive incorporation may raise concerns that the judge has not done so.

[13]                          To determine whether a defect relating to reasons for judgment is evidence of procedural error negating a fair process, the alleged deficiency must be viewed objectively, through the eyes of a reasonable observer, having regard to all relevant matters: see e.g. R. v. Teskey2007 SCC 25 (CanLII), 2007 SCC 25, [2007] 2 S.C.R. 267.  Reasons need not be extensive or cover every aspect of the judge’s reasoning; in some cases, the basis of the reasons may be found in the record.  The question is whether a reasonable person would conclude that the alleged deficiency, taking into account all relevant circumstances, is evidence that the decision-making process was fundamentally unfair, in the sense that the judge did not put her mind to the facts, the arguments and the issues, and decide them impartially and independently.

For the full judgment on CanLII, click HERE

The Canadian Judicial Council will review the conduct of the Honourable Michel Déziel

Ottawa, 2 May 2013 –The Canadian Judicial Council has indicated that the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec, having learned of allegations made against the Honourable Michel Déziel during the hearings of the Commission of inquiry into the granting and administration of government contracts in the construction industry, has brought the matter to the attention of the Council. Continue reading

C Schmitz: “Supreme Court of Canada to look at issue of ex-judges representing clients in court “

By Cristin Schmitz and posted in Lawyers Weekly, April 12, 2013.  For the original article on the Lawyers Weekly website and photos, click HERE.

Should ex-judges be forever banned from appearing as counsel in their former courts – or indeed in any courts?

Charles Huband of Winnipeg’s Taylor McCaffrey, who sat on the Manitoba Court of Appeal for 28 years before he retired in 2007, doesn’t think so. Manitoba’s Law Society takes the same position — although the opinion of legal regulators across Canada is not unanimous. Continue reading

S.G.A. Pitel & W. Bortolin: Revising Canada’s Ethical Rules for Judges Returning to Practice

Judges and ethics have been in the news a lot lately.

Slaw posted an excerpt from the Pitel and Bortolin article “Revising Canada’s Ethical Rules for Judges Returning to Practice” as the Thursday Thinkpiece on January 10, 2013, at Slaw.ca.

The full article can be found on SSRN if you click HERE, in in print (2011) 34 Dalhousie Law Journal 483 Excerpt: pp. 515-520

It has recently become more common for retired Canadian judges to return to the practice of law. This development raises an array of ethical considerations and potential threats to the integrity of the administration of justice. Although most codes of legal ethics contemplate the possibility of former judges returning to practice, the rules on this particular topic are dated, under-analyzed, and generally inadequate. This article reviews the Canadian ethical rules that specifically relate to former judges and identifies their shortcomings. In doing so, the authors consider, for comparative purposes, Canadian ethical rules directed at former public officers who return to practice and American rules directed at former judges. These rules have been developed in a different context, but involve many of the same issues and are more comprehensive. Following this analysis, the authors propose a series of new rules for judges who return to practice. These rules are not intended as the final word on the subject, but rather as starting points for further discussion of the issues involved. They illustrate the competing considerations with which law societies need to grapple as more judges return to practice.

B Livesey: Discipline Dichotomy

Written by Bruce Livesey

Posted on the Canadian Lawyer website, from the January 2013 issue. For the Canadian Lawyer website, click HERE.

Few recent legal scandals have generated as much Sturm und Drang as the one caused by Winnipeg lawyer Jack King. Years ago, he tried to coerce a client into having sex with his wife, Lori Douglas, today an associate chief justice in Manitoba. This past summer, the salacious details of King’s actions were exposed during a Canadian Judicial Council hearing set up to determine whether Douglas should remain on the bench. Continue reading

The Canadian Judicial Council to review the conduct of the Honourable Michel Girouard

Press release from the Canadian Judicial Council website.  For the CJC website, click HERE.

Ottawa, 8 January 2013 – The Canadian Judicial Council has confirmed that the Honorable François Rolland, Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court has requested that a review of the conduct of the Honourable Michel Girouard of the Quebec Superior Court be undertaken.  The review  concerns his conduct prior to his appointment to the Bench and includes an allegation that the judge would have participated in a transaction to purchase an illicit substance from a police informant.  This is only an allegation: no facts have been established in this matter.

As part of the review, all relevant information will be carefully considered by the Vice-chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee of Council. The judge will have a full opportunity to make representations about the allegations.

Since making this request to Council, the judge’s Chief Justice has not assigned any new work to Justice Girouard.

Council takes the review of all complaints seriously and deals with every complaint in accordance with its Complaints Procedures.  Information about the Council, including its Complaints Procedures, can be found on the Council’s website at www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.