Monday, February 28, 2011

Judging our judges!

Who is this man?
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The poll!"

Hello Mr. Pieuk,

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

Justice Corrin is a provincial court justice. The Canadian Judicial Council 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 Lieutenant Governor in Council and cannot be members of the Canadian Judicial Council. The decision of this Board is final. The "charge" then goes before the Judicial Council (Provincial) 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 Lieutenant Governor.

As with the CJC, this provincial Judicial Council can make recommendations for everything from a reprimand to removal. This goes to the Lieutenant 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Appointment is outdated, partisan and inappropriate in today's climate of an educated populous.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 ...


Dear VJH:

Thank you for writing with the corrections. You likely know more about the process of removing judges than most lawyers in the province - you sure you're not one of them? Just joking we take your earlier response at face value.

When you made reference to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to help readers better understand we found this on the province's webpage:

What is an Order in Council?

An Order in Council is a formal, legal document setting out a decision that is made by Cabinet and approved by the Lieutenant Governor. Once signed by the Lieutenant Governor, it becomes a public document.

"Council" means the ministers of the government who make up the Executive Council of Manitoba — more commonly known as "Cabinet".

The Lieutenant Governor is the official appointed to be the Queen''s representative in Manitoba.

The phrase "Lieutenant Governor in Council" means the Lieutenant Governor acting "by and with the advice of" Cabinet.

An Order in Council is required if you see words in an Act or regulation such as:

• the Lieutenant Governor in Council may
• approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council
• subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council

There may be other situations where an Order in Council is not required by an Act but is desirable because it will provide written evidence of a decision — for example, authorizing a federal-provincial agreement or setting up an advisory body.

From your description it sounds as though there are two Councils for judging judges in Manitoba each operating under different Acts. In the case of a Provincial Judicial Council at least there is some layperson invlovement which is good. Completely agree. There are problems with both the front and back ends of the process. The selection of judges should be more rigorous and open incorporating public input. Why not take a page from the Americans and have public confirmation hearings and/or make judges electable? It's the old senate argument isn't it - appointed versus elected.

At the back end it would appear there's far too much rigamarole. You can call us cynical but these Councils are reminiscent of Law Societies and in particular the LSM. They go through a lot of formal process and procedure yet in the end get it wrong by imposing inappropriate penalties. If the system is go great why do we have 3-judges who should be removed from the Bench? In the case fo the Law Society of Manitoba we have the Douglas-King-Champman fiasco, Blackie - and God knows what else - where The Society has it back asswards. It's the Complainants "What a guy that Mr. Y!" and his accomplice "The Bully!" who should be the subject of a disciplinary hearing not Blackie.
BTW, it's The Honourable Philip S. Lee, C. M., O.M. Manitoba's Lieutenant Governor.
Clare L. Pieuk
P. S. VJH, Do you know the process by which our Lieutenant Governors are selected? Sounds like they possess significant influence in certain situations beyond their ceremonial duties with which most are familiar.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good evening Mr. Pieuk,

In answer to your question, the Lt. Governor is appointed by the Governor General, as a representative of both the Crown and Federal Government, on recommendation by the Prime Minister. The Lt. Governor has all the same tasks, rights and privileges of the Governor General, just on the Provincial level, "selects" the Premier (though this is usually the leader of the party with the most votes) and may, as a last resort, dismiss a provincial government.

Like the Gov. Gen., they serve a 5 year term, and the office is sometimes used as a partisan "reward" for services rendered to the sitting government in Ottawa.

Here endeth the lesson...


4:37 PM  

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