Canadian Judicial Council Establishes an Inquiry Committee



    OTTAWA, April 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Judicial Council announced
today that there will be an inquiry into the conduct of Mr Justice P.T. Matlow
of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The decision was taken following the
Council's review of a report from a panel established to review a complaint
against Justice Matlow.
    In accordance with the Canadian Judicial Council's complaints process,
the Judicial Conduct Committee examined the complaint at the outset and
determined that further review was needed. As a consequence, a panel made up
of five judges was established. The panel then reported back to Council.
    The Council reviewed the panel's recommendations and members made the
decision to constitute an Inquiry Committee as per the Judges Act, on the
basis that the matter may be serious enough to warrant a recommendation that
Justice Matlow be removed from his position as a judge. In accordance with
Council's complaints procedures, Judicial members of the Inquiry Committee
have been appointed and they are: Chief Justice C.K. Wells of Newfoundland and
Labrador; Chief Justice F. Rolland of the Superior Court of Quebec; and
Justice R. Veale of the Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory. In addition, the
Minister of Justice of Canada is expected to appoint two more members to the
Committee. Once the Inquiry Committee is established, its members will
investigate the details of the complaint.
    Hearings of the Committee are normally held in public and the dates and
times of the hearings are announced in a news release posted on the Council's
website. After concluding its inquiry, the process is for the Committee to
report its findings to the Canadian Judicial Council which would then make
recommendations to the Minister of Justice on the matter.
    The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of the chief justices and
associate chief justices of Canada's superior courts. Information about the
Council is available at www.cjc.gc.ca

    Background Information - Complaints and Inquiries process:
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    When someone believes that a judge's personal conduct (on or off the
bench) is in question, a complaint may be made to the Canadian Judicial
Council. The Council examines only issues of conduct and does not review a
judge's decision in law.
    The complaints process is simple: the complaint must be in writing, and
it must concern the conduct of a federally appointed judge. No special forms
are necessary. No legal counsel is required. No fees are charged. To the
extent possible, the Council reviews anonymous complaints in the same way as
complaints that are signed. In recent years, the Council has received about
180 complaints a year.
    When a complaint is made, the question before the Council is ultimately
whether or not a judge's conduct prevents that judge from discharging his
duties as a judge. In such a case, the Council must decide whether or not to
recommend that a judge be removed from office. The Council treats complaints
very seriously and as expeditiously as possible. The vast majority of
complaints is completed within three months.
    A complaint is first reviewed by a member of the Judicial Conduct
Committee. A complaint can be dismissed when it is clearly frivolous or does
not fall within the mandate of the Council. In roughly half of cases, the
complaint is studied in more detail and the judge in question, as well as
judge's chief justice, are sent a copy of the complaint and asked for their
comments. The complaint is often resolved at this stage, with an appropriate
letter of explanation to the complainant.
    If the complaint cannot be resolved at that stage, the file can be
referred to a Panel of up to five judges for further review. When a Panel
concludes that the complaint has merit but is not serious enough to move to
the next stage (a formal hearing by an Inquiry Committee) then the Panel may
close the file with an expression of concern, or may recommend counselling or
other remedial measures.
    When the complaint may be serious enough to warrant the judge's removal,
the Panel can recommend that the Council establish an Inquiry Committee. After
completing its investigation, an Inquiry Committee reports its findings to the
Canadian Judicial Council. The Council then decides whether or not to
recommend to the Minister of Justice of Canada that the judge be removed from
office. In accordance with the provision of Canada's Constitution, a judge may
be removed from office only after a joint address by Parliament.

    April 2007




For further information:

For further information: Norman Sabourin, Executive Director and General
Counsel, (613) 288-1566 ext. 301

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