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Notice of Public Hearing into a Complaint about the Conduct of His Worship Errol Massiah, a Justice of the Peace

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NOTICE OF NON-PUBLICATION ORDER: On June 11, 2014, the Hearing Panel of the Justices of the Peace Review Council made an order that the names of all witnesses who appear in any of the facta or motion materials or application records in this hearing shall not be published, nor shall any information that might identify them be published.

Pursuant to section 11(15) of the Justices of the Peace Act, R.S.O. 1990, C. J.4, the Justices of the Peace Review Council is holding a formal hearing into a complaint about the conduct of Justice of the Peace Errol Massiah of the Ontario Court of Justice.

His Worship brought a motion alleging bias and requesting that the Hearing Panel quash the Notice of Hearing and recuse itself from the hearing. The motion was argued over two days. The Hearing Panel delivered a decision dismissing the motion on May 29, 2014. The Panel found that there was no basis for any of the grounds.

On June 6, 2014, the Hearing Panel issued a decision on threshold jurisdiction questions arising from a motion brought by His Worship in which he argues that there is no valid complaint and that there has been an abuse of process. Pursuant to section 8(15), the Panel has engaged counsel, Mr. Brian Gover of Stockwoods LLP, to assist it on matters of law. Counsel for His Worship and Presenting Counsel provided written submissions on the legal opinion received from Mr. Gover.

On June 11, 2014, His Worship’s lawyer, Mr. Guiste, argued that the Hearing Panel should make an order for particulars and disclosure. The Panel issued its decision on June 12, 2014, deciding there was no need for such an order. He also argued that there should be a pre-hearing conference. The Panel decided that at this stage of the proceeding, with another motion from His Worship pending, alleging an abuse of process, the Hearing Panel sees no useful purpose for a pre-hearing conference and a further delay in progressing to the substantive portion of the hearing, which was ordered over a year ago.

The hearing is next scheduled to continue at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 28, 2014 for four days. The hearing is taking place at Neeson & Associates, 141 Adelaide Street West, Suite 1108 – Room 7, Toronto, Ontario. 141 Adelaide Street is located at the south-west corner of Adelaide and York Streets in Toronto.

The decision to order a hearing was taken following the investigation of the complaint in accordance with the Review Council’s complaints process. A three-person complaints committee, consisting of a judge, a justice of the peace, and a community or lawyer member, investigated the complaint and ordered that a formal hearing be held.

Pursuant to section 11.1(1) of the Justices of the Peace Act, the Honourable Chief Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo, Chair of the Review Council, established a hearing panel from the members of the Council, composed of a judge who shall chair the panel, a justice of the peace, and, a community member, to hear the matter. On February 20, 2014, one member of the Panel recused herself. The Chief Justice appointed a community member to the Panel to address the vacancy.

The Hearing Panel will consider the allegations summarized below:

Between May 30, 2007 and August 23, 2010, at a municipal courthouse His Worship engaged in a course of conduct, including inappropriate and/or offensive conduct and/or comments towards female court staff, prosecutors and defendants resulting in a poisoned work environment that was not free of harassment.

The Panel has been asked to determine whether His Worship’s acts individually and/or collectively constitute judicial misconduct and whether there is a pattern of inappropriate conduct toward women in the justice system.

Hearings of the Review Council are normally held in public and the dates and times of the hearings are posted on the Council’s website. After concluding its hearing of the matter, pursuant to section 11.1 of the Justices of the Peace 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 one 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 stands alone and cannot be combined with any other sanction. Under section 11.2(1) of the Justices of the Peace Act, a justice of the peace may be removed from office only by order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

After a motion by His Worship for a publication ban, the Hearing Panel issued a decision on April 11, 2014 in which the request for a publication ban was not granted.

Please note that the Justices of the Peace Review Council has a Protocol Regarding the Use of Electronic Communication Devices in the JPRC Hearing Proceedings.

Any person who wishes to bring a preliminary motion is requested to contact Presenting Counsel, Ms. Marie Henein of Henein Hutchison LLP, 445 King Street West, Suite 202, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1K4. Telephone: 416-368-5000.

General Contact: Ms. Marilyn E. King, Registrar, Telephone: 416-327-5672.

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