Sunday, February 27, 2011

The poll!

Good Day Readers:
Noticed the Winnipeg Free Press is running an online poll. The question:
"Should Manitoba Queens' Bench Justice Robert Dewar be disciplined for comments made during the sentencing of a rapist?"
A simple "yes" or no is required.
We'd take it a couple step farther. Why was a judge with little or no background in criminal law selected to preside over a rape case? It's our understanding the Chief Justice, Court of Queen's Bench makes that decision. Also, what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken?
We asked the latter question because of the following article which appeared in the WFP yesterday involving another Manitoba judge Brian Corrin who's also in hot water or should we say "lukewarm water?" Notice our highlighted paragraph (nineth). The "judicial panel" referenced is likely the Canadian Judicial Council.
Perhaps Law Society of Manitoba disciplinary committees should adopt the same policy if they haven't already. When Jack Anthony King of Dynamic Team Douglas-King-Chapman fame appears before it (March 28, 2011) he should be required to produce a little note from his doctor plus made to write an essay on what it means to be a good lawyer.
What about our beloved Blackie who also faces a hearing before the LSM? Since The Legal Profession Act which governs The Law Society forbids identifying the Defendant and Complainants until there's been a finding of misconduct we've chosen the pseudonym "Blackie" after author Jack Boyle's character Boston Blackie of the 1920s-1950s - an accomplished jewel thief and safecracker who graduated to become a private detective no less followed by a career in radio, television and later movies.
"Enemy to those who make him an enemy ..... friend to those who have no friend. That's Blackie!"

Follow the "Free Blackie!" campaign as it unfolds on this site in the days, weeks and months ahead. As penalty for his alleged chicken s..t indiscression(s), if found guilty we think Blackie should be made to write a 1,500 word essay on how the LSM got it so wrong (the Complainants should be the ones subject to disciplinary hearings although one's a non-lawyer) along with the criteria The Society should use when judging/assessing the ethics of its membership.

It's nice to see at least the CJC and LSM are on the same page when it comes to setting penalties. What grade was Mr. Corrin given for his essay? Obviously it was a passing mark but what would have happened had he failed? Blackie could write the definitive book for the Law Society of Manitoba on what it means to be an ethical lawyer. Bet the Complainants can't do that!

Clare L. Pieuk

P. S. Blackie - hint. Take a little note from your doctor to your disciplinary hearing.
Controversial judge faces assault charge
Corrin accused of attacking mother during dispute
By: Mike McIntyre
Posted: February 26, 2011

A Manitoba judge who is no stranger to controversy has been accused of attacking his mother during a dispute inside a River Heights home.

Brian Corrin was arrested Thursday and charged with assault and uttering threats. Chief provincial court Judge Ken Champagne announced Friday Corrin has been put on administrative leave, pending his ongoing criminal case.

Justice sources told the Free Press Corrin is on vacation and his status will be reviewed upon his return, expected next month. He has been released on a promise to appear in court at a later date. The allegations have not been proven and he is presumed innocent.

Constable Jason Michalyshen didn't provide further details of what the alleged assault entailed, saying the incident was considered to be "family violence." Police said it happened on February 20 and the victim suffered minor injuries to her upper body.

"(When any) public figure, whether it be a police officer or any other public figure is involved or has been arrested or charged, we want to be as transparent as possible with regards to our investigations," said Michalyshen.

Corrin, 65, was elected a city councillor in 1974 and an NDP MLA in 1977. He was named a provincial court judge in 1988.

He didn't return an email message seeking comment Friday. It is not known if he has retained legal counsel.

Corrin has previously come under fire for his conduct inside various courtrooms.

He was convicted in 1996 of seven counts of professional misconduct and was suspended without pay for 30 days. He was also ordered by a judicial panel to write an essay on what it means to be a good judge.

Corrin was found by the panel to have acted with "arrogance and an over-inflated sense of his role" stemming from a high-profile incident in which he failed to return to court for a drunk-driving trial while his car was being repaired. The charges included offering to personally pay the fees of an expert Crown witness to cover the delay, making disparaging comments to three Crown attorneys and disregarding the rights of an accused.

In 2007, the Manitoba Court of Appeal twice rebuked Corrin for his actions during criminal cases. In the first example, the high court ruled Corrin used "inappropriate stereotypes" to consider the case of a young suburban teen who pleaded guilty to a drug-fuelled robbery spree.

In the second case, the same court found Corrin had "embellished" evidence presented to him by lawyers and handed down an illegal sentence in a case involving a Winnipeg university student who damaged 13 red-light cameras during a year-long vandalism spree.

Former Chief Justice Richard Scott pulled no punches in assessing the judge's handling of the case, which included Corrin's lengthy lecture about the man's "political agenda" as a "personal tyranny... putting at risk the delicate compromise of democratic governance that has evolved in Canada since its formation as a country."

"The judge inappropriately embellished the circumstances before the court beyond the particular facts placed in evidence," Scott wrote in the appeal court's decision. Scott said Corrin was wrong to suggest Gavin was "the principal player in what he seemed to see as a domestic terrorist organization." The appeal court also criticized Corrin for refusing to allow lawyers to make further submissions when it was clear he was going to reject their proposed sentences.

SEmD with files from Gabrielle Giroday

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 26, 2011 Page A4


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Pieuk,

Just wanted to clarify a couple of points for you on this article.

Justice Corrin is a provincial court justice. The CJC only oversees investigations into the conduct of federal judges (Queen's Bench). Removal of a provincial court justice is done according to the Provincial Court Act of Manitoba, not the The Judges Act.

When Corrin was priviously reprimanded, the "charge" would have been decided by a panel of 3 - a lawyer, a member of the public, and a QB judge - all appointed by the Lt. Governor in Council and cannot be members of the Judicial Council. The decision of this board is final. The "charge" then goes before the Judicial Council and while investigation is pending the Chief Justice may suspend with or without pay. An appeal to the Court of Appeal is allowed for suspension without pay - which is why they typically don't impose that particular sanction during investigation.

The Judicial Council is made up of 3 Provincial Justices from other jurisdictions, the President of the LSM (or designate) and 2 lay people not connected to the profession who are appointed by the Lt. Governor.

As with the CJC, this provincial Judicial Council can make recommendations for everything from a reprimand to removal. This goes to the Lt. Governor who then puts the recommendation before the Justice Minister and our Legislature. Any decision of the Council can be appealed to the Court of Appeal of Manitoba.

So, while not as complicated as removal of a QB judge, the process is still long and complicated.

I find the whole process much like family law. If we made it as difficult to get married, as it is to get divorced, we would have less divorce. If we made it as difficult to become a judge, as it is to get rid of one, we would have less problems with our judiciary.

Appointment is outdated, partisan and inappropriate in today's climate of an educated populous. Election provides the public with a means to evaluate our judiciary. However, in lieu of this, terms of office are appropriate or an age limit, like in the Senate.

Regardless, we have a nasty trio of judges in this province, and our government needs to rectify the situation immediately!

Continuing to seek...


8:34 AM  

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