The Justices of the Peace Review Council will hold a formal hearing into a complaint about the conduct of Justice of the Peace Richard Bisson of the Ontario Court of Justice.
Pursuant to section 11.1(1) of the Justices of the Peace Act, the Honourable Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve, Chair of the Review Council, has established a Hearing Panel of members of the Council consisting of a judge who shall chair the panel, a justice of the peace, and a community member.
The hearing was adjourned until to May 1, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the request of Mr. Root, Counsel for His Worship, for further submissions on disposition and submissions on His Worship’s request for compensation. The location will be Neesons Court Reporting, 77 King Street West, Suite 2020, Toronto.
On Friday, July 28, 2017, the Hearing Panel received evidence including an Agreed Statement of Facts in which His Worship agreed that his actions, individually and collectively, constitute judicial misconduct.
The Hearing Panel found that the conduct summarized below constituted judicial misconduct:
In the context of the routine duties of a justice of the peace, His Worship demonstrated a pattern of legal errors and disregard for procedure that showed a lack of awareness of, or an incompetence in, the law and a failure to respect the rights of defendants. He acted in a manner that gave rise to a perception of bias and unfairness in the administration of justice. His Worship made inappropriate comments in the courtroom that lacked the dignity and level of professionalism expected of a justice of the peace.
Submissions on disposition were made by Presenting Counsel, Ms. Marie Henein, and by Mr. Jeffrey Root, counsel for His Worship.
The Hearing Panel observed that during submissions, counsel for His Worship asserted that His Worship had a “clean record” on conduct and informed counsel that it was considering making an order in relation to the confidentiality of any prior complaints, if any, that were not dismissed. The Panel invited submissions on that matter.
On December 14, 2017, the Panel heard submissions from counsel. The Panel was guided by the statutory framework and the objective of the judicial disciplinary process, and ruled that where a justice of the peace puts his prior judicial conduct in issue during submissions, the integrity of the process is upheld by having a Hearing Panel receive full and accurate information. The Panel ordered the Registrar to provide the Panel and counsel with a copy of any case summaries in relation to complaints about the conduct of His Worship that warranted a disposition under s. 11(15) of the Justices of the Peace Act, other than dismissals, as reported in JPRC Annual Reports. Four case summaries were provided and filed as exhibits. Mr. Root requested an adjournment to allow His Worship to provide additional material relevant to disposition.
Pursuant to section 11.1 of the Act, the Hearing Panel may dismiss the complaint, with or without a finding that it is unfounded, or if it upholds the complaint, it may decide upon any of the following sanctions singly or in combination:
- warn the justice of the peace;
- reprimand the justice of the peace;
- order the justice of the peace to apologize to the complainant or to any other person;
- order the justice of the peace to take specified measures such as receiving education or treatment, as a condition of continuing to sit as a justice of the peace;
- suspend the justice of the peace with pay, for any period; or,
- suspend the justice of the peace without pay, but with benefits, for a period up to thirty days.
The Council may also make a recommendation to the Attorney General that the justice of the peace be removed from office. This sanction cannot be combined with any other sanction. Under section 11.2(1) of the Act, a justice of the peace may be removed from office only by order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
For general information, contact: Ms. Marilyn E. King, Registrar, telephone 416-327-5672.