Ottawa, June 30 2008

Update in the case of an Inquiry regarding Justice P.T. Matlow

Ottawa, 30 June 2008 - The Canadian Judicial Council has been advised by the lawyer representing Justice P.T. Matlow that he is seeking a judicial review in respect of the Report to the Council issued by the Inquiry Committee created to review the conduct of Justice Matlow. The report made public on 29 May 2008 details the Inquiry Committee’s findings and conclusions.

The application for judicial review by Justice Matlow has been filed with the Federal Court. A copy of this application, as well as other information regarding this Inquiry, is available on the Council’s website.

The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada’s superior courts. Information about the Council can be found on the Council’s website: www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.

Contact:
Norman Sabourin, Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
613-288-1566 ext. 301
    
Background Information:

The Inquiry Committee that reviewed the conduct of Justice Matlow was composed of three judicial members, appointed by the Council, and two senior lawyers, appointed by the Minister of Justice. The members of the Committee were:

  • The Honourable Clyde K. Wells, Chief Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador (Chairperson);
  • The Honourable François Rolland, Chief Justice, Superior Court of Quebec;
  • The Honourable Ronald Veale, Senior Judge, Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory;
  • Maria Lynn Freeland, Senior Crown Prosecutor, of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan; and
  • Douglas M. Hummell, Barrister and Solicitor, of St. Catharines, Ontario.


Mr Douglas Hunt, of the law firm Hunt Partners LLP, is the Independent Counsel regarding this matter.  The mandate of Independent Counsel is to act in the public interest and to bring all relevant facts and points of law before the Committee for its consideration, and to respond to any further representations made to Council by the judge.  Justice Matlow is represented by Paul Cavalluzzo of the firm Cavalluzzo, Hayes, Shilton, McIntyre & Cornish LLP.

Complaints and Inquiries process:

When someone believes that a judge’s personal conduct (on or off the bench) is in question, a complaint may be made to the Canadian Judicial Council. The Council examines only issues of conduct and does not review a judge’s decision in law.

The complaints process is simple: the complaint must be in writing, and it must concern the conduct of a federally appointed judge. No special forms are necessary. No legal counsel is required. No fees are charged. To the extent possible, the Council reviews anonymous complaints in the same way as complaints that are signed.

When a complaint is made, the question before the Council is ultimately whether or not a judge’s conduct prevents that judge from discharging his duties as a judge. In such a case, the Council must decide whether or not to recommend that a judge be removed from office.

A complaint is first reviewed by a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee. A complaint can be dismissed when it is clearly frivolous or does not fall within the mandate of the Council. In roughly half of cases, the complaint is studied in more detail and the judge in question, as well as judge’s chief justice, are sent a copy of the complaint and asked for their comments. The complaint is often resolved at this stage, with an appropriate letter of explanation to the complainant.

If the complaint cannot be resolved at that stage, the file can be referred to a Panel of up to five judges for further review. When a Panel concludes that the complaint has merit but is not serious enough to move to the next stage (a formal hearing by an Inquiry Committee) then the Panel may close the file with an expression of concern, or may recommend counselling or other remedial measures.

When the complaint may be serious enough to warrant the judge’s removal, the Panel can recommend that the Council establish an Inquiry Committee. After completing its investigation, an Inquiry Committee reports its findings to the Canadian Judicial Council. The Council then decides whether or not to recommend to the Minister of Justice of Canada that the judge be removed from office. In accordance with the provision of Canada’s Constitution, a judge may be removed from office only after a joint resolution by Parliament.