Saturday, January 2, 2016

Removal from Judicial Office: A Brief History of the Ontario Court of Justice Experience - 1993 to present


In November, 1993 Madame Justice MacFarland, sitting as a Commissioner, appointed under section 50 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O.  1990 recommended the removal from office of Justice Walter P. Hryciuk.  Regrettably, Madame Justice committed serious errors of law going to jurisdiction by not restricting her consideration of evidence in support of the complaints against the judge to those which were formally submitted by the Review Council for her consideration.  A unanimous panel of the Court of Appeal for Ontario led by Justice Abella quashed the removal order removing Justice Hryciuk from judicial office.

Justices of the Peace:

Since 1996 a total of six justices of the peace have been removed from judicial office following a hearing.  All six of these judicial officers are non-lawyers.  Three of those, namely, J.P. Blackburn, J.P. Romain and J.P. Sinai were removed under the predecessor provisions of the Justices of the Peace Act by a Commissioner in 1996, 2003 and 2008 respectively.  All of these judicial officers were compensated by the Attorney General for the cost of defending the allegations and this is clearly reflected in the decisions.

Since the 2006 amendments to the Justices of the Peace Act which came through the then McGuinty Government's omnibus Access to Justice Act, 2006 three justices of the peace have been removed from judicial office following a hearing.  Those justices are: J.P. Barroilhet(2009), J.P. Phillips(2013) and J.P. Massiah(2015).  The Barroilhet decision does not address the issue of compensation for legal costs.  The decisions in Phillips and Massiah consider the issue but deny compensation.  The so called Access to Justice Act, 2006 amendments did not change the common law and statutory provisions allowing for compensating justices of the peace for the costs associated with defending their office.

Note:  This piece was generated from the information published by the Ontario Judicial Council and the Justices of the Peace Review Council on their respective websites.  Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy but interested readers should contact the original sources. Should there be any errors in this post I would be most pleased to correct them upon notice.

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