Pursuant to section 11(15) of the Justices of the Peace Act, R.S.O. 1990, C. J.4 (the “Act”), the Justices of the Peace Review Council (the “Council”) will hold a formal hearing into a complaint about the conduct of Justice of the Peace Anna Gibbon of the Ontario Court of Justice.
The Hearing Panel will consider whether the alleged conduct, as summarized below and set out more fully in the Notice of Hearing, occurred and constituted judicial misconduct:
Her Worship acted as an advocate for her son in respect of his legal matter and attempted to persuade, threaten and/or intimidate the prosecutor, the Supervisor of Court Services and/or the Regional Senior Justice of the Peace into having the charge against her son withdrawn or stayed. Her Worship invited judicial officers assigned to preside over her son’s matter to her house for dinner. Her Worship disclosed confidential information about the Council’s investigation into her conduct to a court clerk and made disparaging remarks to the court clerk about court staff. Her Worship abused her position of judicial office and failed to uphold the integrity, impartiality and independence of judicial office.
The disposition stage of the hearing commenced on April 6, 2022, with submissions from presenting counsel. Based on issues raised during the hearing and the submissions of presenting counsel, counsel for Her Worship requested an opportunity to provide further written submissions. The Panel agreed and directed that counsel for Her Worship deliver such submissions by April 29, 2022.
The hearing will continue on May 24, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
If you wish to observe the proceedings, please complete the Request to Attend Virtual Proceedings form and send it by email to: Council_information@ontario.ca to register. A link to access the virtual proceedings by Zoom will be sent to you prior to the hearing date.
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.
Pursuant to section 11.1(1) of the Act, the Honourable Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve, Chair of the Council, 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.
Pursuant to section 11.1, 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 dispositions 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 Hearing Panel may also make a recommendation to the Attorney General that the justice of the peace be removed from office. This disposition cannot be combined with any other disposition.
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.
Pursuant to section 11(11)(a) of the Act, the complaints committee made an interim recommendation to the Regional Senior Justice that Her Worship Gibbon be reassigned to a court location other than the location from which the complaint arose, pending the final disposition of the complaint. The interim recommendation was accepted, and Her Worship has been reassigned to another court location pending the final disposition of the complaint.
On January 27, 2021, the Hearing Panel convened with counsel by teleconference for an initial appearance. At the request of counsel, the Hearing Panel ordered a pre-hearing conference. The Hearing Panel scheduled a further appearance on April 6, 2021 to set dates for the hearing.
On April 6, 2021, the matter was spoken to by teleconference. Counsel for Her Worship took the position that hearing dates should not be set until additional disclosure was received from Presenting Counsel and a second prehearing conference was convened. Presenting Counsel indicated that she would be bringing a motion to withdraw some of the allegations ordered to a hearing. The motion was scheduled for April 28 at 9:00 a.m.
The parties appeared before the Panel on April 28, 2021. Presenting Counsel confirmed that the disclosure requests had been fulfilled and that counsel were ready to set hearing dates.
The hearing was scheduled for the weeks of June 14-18 and July 5-9, 2021 for evidence and submissions.
Presenting Counsel then proceeded with her motion to withdraw two of the allegations in the Notice of Hearing on the basis that there was no reasonable prospect of a finding of judicial misconduct in respect of those allegations. Her Worship consented to the motion. The Hearing Panel granted the motion for the reasons set out in its Decision on the Motion to Withdraw Certain Allegations in the Notice of Hearing, located on the Council’s Public Hearings Decisions webpage. The Panel also ordered that Presenting Counsel serve and file an Amended Notice of Hearing.
Evidence in the hearing commenced on June 14, 2021. Following opening submissions by Presenting Counsel and counsel for Her Worship, Presenting Counsel called Nicole Klein as a witness. The matter was adjourned to June 15, 2021, on which date, Presenting Counsel called Jody Kontzie and Regional Senior Justice of the Peace Bernard Caron.
On June 16, 2021, Presenting Counsel called her final two witnesses: Justice of the Peace Gordon Chaput and Jessica Strobel. The Hearing Panel vacated the June 17, 2021 hearing date and adjourned the matter to June 18, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.
At the start of the appearance on June 18, 2021, Her Worship’s counsel brought a motion for a publication ban concerning the residential address and contact information of Her Worship Gibbon and Her Worship’s husband and son. On consent of Presenting Counsel, the Hearing Panel made an interim publication ban in the form of redactions of the residential address and any personal contact information of Her Worship Gibbon, her husband and her son on the evidence and documents that form part of the public record in this hearing. The Panel directed that counsel should be prepared to make submissions on the issue of whether the media should be given notice of the publication ban when the hearing continues in July.
Following this discussion, Her Worship Gibbon began her testimony. The matter was adjourned to July 5, 2021, at which time Her Worship will continue her examination-in-chief.
The hearing continued on July 5, 2021. Further to Her Worship’s motion for a publication ban, the Hearing Panel ordered that Her Worship’s residential address and any telephone numbers belonging to Her Worship, Her Worship’s husband and Her Worship’s son be redacted in the evidence and documents that form part of the public record in this hearing.
Counsel for Her Worship concluded his examination-in-chief of Her Worship, and Presenting Counsel conducted and concluded her cross-examination.
On July 6, 2021, members of the Hearing Panel asked Her Worship questions arising from her cross-examination. Counsel for Her Worship then called two character witnesses: Roseanna Hudson and David MacKenzie. Following the testimony of these witnesses, counsel for Her Worship confirmed that the evidence for Her Worship had concluded.
The Panel directed that closing submissions should be made in writing. Presenting Counsel will deliver submissions by July 30 and counsel for Her Worship will deliver responding submissions by August 23, 2021. The parties and the Panel reconvened on October 1 and November 12, 2021 for oral reply submissions.
On February 7, 2022, the Hearing Panel released Reasons for Decision in which it found that Her Worship Gibbon engaged in judicial misconduct by inappropriately intervening in her son’s Highway Traffic Act proceeding, including by calling the prosecutor to discuss her son’s case, inviting two out-of-town justices of the peace to her home for dinner on the same date that her son was scheduled to appear in conflict court, and by asking the Regional Senior Justice of the Peace to have the charge against her son withdrawn or stayed.
The Panel held that Her Worship Gibbon’s conduct in relation to the prosecution of her son’s legal proceeding was incompatible with her position as a justice of the peace and compromised the independence, impartiality and integrity of her judicial office. The Panel further concluded that Her Worship’s failure, on more than one occasion, to respect the ethical and professional boundaries of her office and to act with impartiality, integrity and independence undermined public confidence in the administration of justice.
The parties will have an opportunity to present evidence and/or make submissions on the appropriate disposition(s) to address the findings of judicial misconduct.
Presenting Counsel are Ms. Linda Rothstein and Ms. Alysha Shore, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Counsel for Her Worship Gibbon are Mr. Eugene Bhattacharya and Mary C. Waters Rodriguez.
For general information, email: Council_Information@ontario.ca