October 11, 2016
The Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) recently laid out recommendations for amendments to be made to the Judges Act—recommendations which address a request from Justice Canada for feedback on, among other things, the appointment and discipline of federal judges. In an article on the issue, Law Times looked to Senior Associate Molly Reynolds for comment on judicial proceedings in the context of the CJC’s recommendations for reform. Below is an excerpt of the article.
Molly Reynolds, of Torys LLP in Toronto, was a counsel for former Manitoba associate chief justice Lori Douglas in her disciplinary process before the CJC between 2010 and 2014.
It can be easy to forget that it is a “human process” that judges go through before the Judicial Inquiry Committee, Reynolds says; in the Douglas proceeding, “that particular inquiry committee felt this [process] was entirely inquisitorial, not adversarial. Now, to see the CJC presenting the process as adversarial,” in which the CJC’s independent counsel is tasked with presenting evidence against the judge rather than proceeding simply in the public interest, “is surprising. Clarity one way or another would be useful.”
Reynolds also expressed concern over the lack of specificity in grounds for removal in the Judges Act, which provides that a judge may be deemed unfit to remain in office “by his or her conduct or otherwise.”
“Those grounds for removal were at issue in the Douglas case,” says Reynolds. The imprecise wording of “or otherwise” takes away from the sound, correct purpose of the Act, she suggests; “we should be looking at whether a judge has displayed good behaviour. . . . It’s important to examine what the scope of possible grounds for removal means, and what they can include.”
To read the full article, click here.