Ottawa, October 21 2014

Update in the case of a complaint about a judge for delays in issuing judgements

Ottawa, 21 October 2014 – The Canadian Judicial Council has announced the results of its review of a complaint involving the Honourable Paulette Garnett of the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick. Concerns were raised about long delays in the judge's issuance of reasons for some of her decisions. In one case, concerns were also raised about the judge's attitude and demeanour. 

In accordance with Council's Complaint Procedures, this matter was reviewed by the Honourable Robert Pidgeon, Senior Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec and Vice-Chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee of Council. Chief Justice Pidgeon considered all of the available information. He asked the judge to provide information and comments about the issue.

A review of the facts revealed that the judge had been very late in issuing reasons in a number of cases. Chief Justice Pidgeon noted that, in accordance with a policy adopted by the Canadian Judicial Council, judges should render decisions within six months of hearing a case, except in very complex matters or where there are special circumstances. In some provinces, such time lines are included in legislation. In light of the judge's delays in a number of cases, Chief Justice Pidgeon formally expressed his concerns to the judge. He noted that undue delays in rendering decisions can lessen public confidence in our justice system.

However, Chief Justice Pidgeon noted that that the judge has since worked very hard to focus on writing and issuing reasons for her judgements on a timely basis. At this time, the judge is up to date in her work and issuing reasons for judgements within reasonable timelines.

The judge has acknowledged that she needs to do better in future. She is working to ensure that this situation does not happen again. With respect to her conduct during one hearing, Chief Justice Pidgeon noted that all judges have an obligation to treat everyone before the courts with courtesy. The judge apologized to the complainant for being unnecessarily abrupt.

In all the circumstances, Chief Justice Pidgeon accepted that the situation is not so serious that it warrants taking further steps by the Council pursuant to its mandate under the Judges Act. In light of the judge's concrete steps to remedy the situation, the matter is now closed.

Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 302

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