Note: On November 28, 2018, the Hearing Panel ordered that the publication of information that might identify the names of individuals involved in the underlying court proceedings form which this complaint arises is prohibited. The Order is posted on the Public Hearings Decisions 2018 webpage.
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 has commenced a formal hearing into a complaint about the conduct of Justice of the Peace Paul Welsh of the Ontario Court of Justice.
The hearing commenced at 10:00 a.m. on November 28 and continued on November 29, 2018 at Neesons Reporting, 77 King St. West, TD North Tower, Suite 2020, Toronto, Ontario. After Presenting Counsel presented his evidence, the Hearing Panel directed Presenting Counsel to have two additional witnesses provide evidence who may have relevant information about the events in question. The November 30, 2018 hearing date was vacated. The matter will be spoken to on January 31, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. when further hearing dates will be scheduled.
Pursuant to section 11.1(1) of the Act, the Honourable Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve, Chair of the 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 decision to order a hearing was taken following the investigation of the complaints 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 complaints and ordered that a formal hearing be held.
The Hearing Panel granted a request by counsel for an order for a pre-hearing conference which took place prior to the start of the hearing.
The Hearing Panel will consider whether the conduct summarized below constituted judicial misconduct:
On dates between April and October of 2017, His Worship demonstrated a pattern of disregard for the administration of justice that included failing to comply with the administrative processes in place in the Hamilton Courthouse for court applications; accepting and deciding on applications outside of the courtroom, off the record, and in the absence of the underlying court documents; granting a reopening for a Part III offence when it was not permitted by law; and, demonstrating actual or perceived preferential treatment towards particular legal representatives.
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.
Presenting Counsel is Mr. Scott Fenton, Fenton Smith Barristers.
Counsel for His Worship is Mr. Eugene Bhattacharya.
For general information, contact: Ms. Marilyn E. King, Registrar, telephone 416-327-5672.