The Supreme Court of Canada dismisses an appeal by Mr Justice Cosgrove regarding an Inquiry Committee of the Canadian Judicial Council

    OTTAWA, Nov. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - In the matter of an Inquiry Committee of
the Canadian Judicial Council, the Supreme Court of Canada announced today
that the Honourable Mr Justice Paul Cosgrove's application for leave to appeal
a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal has been dismissed.
    The Federal Court of Appeal's 12 March 2007 decision, to refer the
investigation into the conduct of Mr. Justice Cosgrove back to the Inquiry
Committee convened by the Canadian Judicial Council, stands. In that judgment,
the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the decision of the Federal Court,
released on 26 October 2005, which had declared invalid the power of a
provincial attorney general to require that an inquiry be held into the
conduct of a judge. The Federal Court of Appeal held instead that the
provisions of the Judges Act which allow an Attorney General to request an
inquiry do not impair judicial impartiality.
    The Supreme Court of Canada's decision means that the Inquiry Committee
convened by the Canadian Judicial Council to review the conduct of Mr. Justice
Paul Cosgrove will resume its consideration of this matter in the near future.
    The Supreme Court of Canada's decision is available at:
    The Federal Court of Appeal's decision is available on the Court's
website at:
    The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of the chief justices and
associate chief justices of Canada's superior courts. The Council's web site
address is:

    Background Information

    The Inquiry Committee consists of three judicial members, appointed by
the Council, and two senior lawyers, appointed by the Minister of Justice. The
members of the Committee are:

    - The Honourable Lance Finch, Chief Justice of British Columbia
    - The Honourable Michael MacDonald, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia;
    - The Honourable Allan Wachowich, Chief Justice, Court of Queen's Bench
      of Alberta;
    - Ms Kirby Chown, of the law firm McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto; and
    - Mr John Nelligan, of the law firm Nelligan O'Brien Payne in Ottawa.

    Independent counsel, Mr Earl Cherniak of the law firm Lerners in Toronto,
has been appointed to present the case to the Inquiry Committee. The mandate
of Independent Counsel is to act in the public interest and to bring all
relevant facts and points of law before the Committee for its consideration.
Justice Cosgrove is represented by Mr Chris Paliare of the law firm Paliare
Roland in Toronto.

    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.
    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.
    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 resolution by Parliament.

For further information:

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

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