Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Appointing and bench slapping (if necessary) a Manitoba Provincial Judge!

Good Day Readers:

In light of the Douglas Inquiry, we wondered about two considerations:

(1) What is the process in Manitoba for appointing a Provincial Judge

(2) How do you get rid of one who has misbehaved? ("Bench slapped!")

The first question is relatively easy to answer. The procedure is outlined in The Provincial Court Act.


Just finished printing the 23 pages and 75 Sections (each with multi-Subsections) that constitute The Provincial Court Act for Manitoba. Already, we've noticed some important differences which if used by Queen's Bench might have prevented the Douglas-King-Chapman fiasco and the millions of dollars it will cost taxpayers before the Douglas Inquiry is over.

By comparison provincial process appears to be much more streamlined. It begins with Manitoba's Justice Minister (Andrew Swan) advising current Chief Judge Kenneth Champagne to convene a Nominating Committee under 3.1(2) for an appointment to be made pursuant to subsection 3(1) - the Lieutenant Governor (Philip Lee) in Council will make the final decision based on the recommendation of the Nominating Committee
As an interesting aside, it came out at the Douglas Inquiry under Independent Counsel's cross-examination of Jack King that at the time Alex Chapman complained to BigLaw Thompson Dorfman Sweatman about the actions of Mr. King, Andrew Swan was one of a 4-lawyer group that formed TDS's Family Law Unit the others being Lori Douglas and Connie Petersen with whom Jack King currently practices law at Petersen King.

But here's where it gets interesting. The Nominating Committee shall consist of:

- The Chief Judge who will Chair the Committee

- 3 persons who are not lawyers, judges or retired judges appointed by the Lieutenant Governor (emphasis ours)

- a judge selected by the judges of the provincial court

- a designee of the President of the President of the Manitoba Law Society

- a designee of the President of the President of the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Bar Association

Oh My God Did you see that Douglas Inquiry Committee, Independent Counsel and the Judiciary Appointments Committee responsible for nominating Lori Douglas ..... well did you? Laypersons were included as part of the nominating process. Maybe, just maybe had a non-lawyer or two been on the JAC one might have said, "Geezus guys, once pictures are interneted they're there forever because of downloads even my 15-year old knows that!" in the process eventually saving taxpayers millions, and millions and millions of dollars.

Here's something else that jumped out at us. Section 28(4), Upon request, the administrator shall arrange for the provision of assistance to any person in the preparation of a complaint. Wonder if the Canadian Judicial Counsel offers such a service?

How do you get rid of a Provincial Judge

Without going into excruciating detail Sections 28, 32, 33, 37 and 39 cover off Complaints, Judicial Inquiry Boards, Investigations by JIBs, Judicial Councils, Adjudication by Judicial Councils, as well as, Appeals to the Court of Appeal.

In other words, assuming a Judge is placed on full administrative leave while the process plays itself out, taxpayers will be on the hook for a lot of money.

Why do we place Justices and Judges on pedestals right up there with God? Surely, there must be a much more cost effective way of getting rid of one should it be necessary.

Clare L. Pieuk


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