The Justices of the Peace Review Council held a formal hearing into a complaint about the conduct of Justice of the Peace Adele Romagnoli 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, established a Hearing Panel of members of the Council consisting of a judge who was the chair of the panel, a justice of the peace, and a community member.
On February 26, 2018, the Hearing Panel received an Agreed Statement of Facts as an exhibit.
Presenting Counsel, Mr. Owen Rees, and Responding Counsel, Mr. Sandler, put forward a joint position that a finding of misconduct should be made on one allegation: Her Worship failed to know and maintain competence in the law, and imposed a sentence not permitted by law; the legal errors made by Her Worship cumulatively amount to misconduct. Counsel submitted that the other allegations should be dismissed.
Counsel jointly submitted that the appropriate disposition is a reprimand and further education.
The Hearing Panel was of the view that the Agreed Statement of Facts should be accompanied by the court transcripts referenced in it. Panel ordered that counsel provide the transcripts to the Hearing Panel and the matter was scheduled to return on March 19.
On March 19th, the transcripts were filed as an exhibit. The Hearing Panel gave an oral decision that will be followed by a written decision setting out its reasons.
The Panel found that Her Worship Romagnoli engaged in judicial misconduct as alleged in “Allegation 1: Failure to know, maintain competence in, and apply the law” described in Appendix A of the Notice of Hearing, upholding the complaint in that respect.
The Hearing Panel accepted the disposition jointly proposed by counsel and decided that in order to restore public confidence in this justice of the peace and in the judiciary generally, the appropriate dispositions in this matter are:
- A formal reprimand of Justice of the Peace Romagnoli. This formal censure is intended as a clear indication of this Panel’s disapproval of her conduct.
- As a condition of Her Worship continuing to sit, additional judicial education or training as deemed appropriate by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice or her designate, that reinforces Her Worship’s duty to maintain professional competence in the law; teaches her the law governing joint submissions; teaches her the application of stare decisis and the effect of binding and non-binding precedents; and, reinforces her duty to remain impartial and avoid any perception of unfairness or differential treatment.
Mr. Sandler will file written submissions by April 3, 2018 on Her Worship’s request that the Panel make a recommendation to the Attorney General that she should be compensated for her legal costs. Presenting Counsel will file his response by April 10, 2018.
On January 8, 2018, the Hearing Panel granted a motion in writing brought by Presenting Counsel with the consent of Mr. Sandler, counsel for Her Worship Romagnoli, requesting an additional date to file an Agreed Statement of Facts and to make a joint submission addressing the findings with respect to the allegations of misconduct and the disposition that should be imposed under section 11.1(10) of the Justices of the Peace Act.
A pre-hearing conference took place on May 11, 2017.
On Monday, July 10, 2017, dates were set for the hearing. The hearing was scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 19, 2018. Additional dates were scheduled for March 20-23, March 26-29, and April 3-6, 2018. These dates have now been vacated.
The original allegations included:
Her Worship failed to know and maintain competence in the law, imposed a sentence not permitted by law, and continued to misapply or refused to follow the law even after a higher court made clear the correct application of the law. She failed to dispose of cases promptly. Her Worship demonstrated bias, or a reasonable apprehension of bias, against the prosecution and police, by socializing with defence paralegals in the court houses during recesses, treating prosecutors differently from defence paralegals in the courtroom and denying natural justice and procedural fairness to prosecutors.
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 finds that the justice of the peace engaged in judicial misconduct, 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.
Presenting Counsel is Mr. Owen Rees, Conway Baxter Wilson LLP, Telephone: 613-780-2026.
For general information, contact: Ms. Marilyn E. King, Registrar, telephone 416-327-5672.