Canadian Judge Faces Scrutiny by Federal Judicial Council

BarristerIt’s been a busy few years for Canada’s Judicial Council, the body that reviews complaints against federally appointed judges in Canada.

While all eyes and ears were focused on the lengthy and salacious Justice Lori Douglas Inquiry, which finally ended with the announcement of her voluntary retirement in November 2014, and the welcomed termination of the “dog and pony show” that the Inquiry became, other members of the Judicial Council have been anything but idle.

In 2012 Quebec’s Chief Justice brought forward a complaint to the Judicial Council with respect to Superior Court Justice Michel Girouard, a 2010 appointment to the Quebec bench. A separate Inquiry of another Quebec judge was commenced in 2014.

With far less media scrutiny than Lori Douglas endured, the allegations against Justice Girouard centre on informants who say the judge was a regular customer of a certain drug dealer in Val d’Or while he was a lawyer.

More startling yet are the allegations that he had gangsters install a marijuana grow operation in his basement and offered legal advice in exchange for cocaine, even when he became a judge!

Wiretap evidence played at the Inquiry revealed conversations between the judge and his alleged drug dealer where the pair discussed when he could pick up certain “videos” and whether there were any good “videos” available that week. Inquiry counsel, Marie Cossette, argued that “videos” was subterfuge for “cocaine”.

Perhaps even more damning is the existence of a surveillance video of the learned jurist recorded two weeks before his appointment to the bench, where he is seen purchasing cocaine at the back of a local video store, from the same drug dealer heard in the wiretaps.

The video, which has not yet been viewed by the Inquiry panel, is said to show a transaction between the judge and Yvon Lamontagne, the store owner, who sold drugs at the back of his store and is said to be a major player in the drug scene in Northern Quebec. The wiretaps and video were collected during a successful drug sting called “Crayfish”.

Judge Girouard denied all the allegations, explaining that Mr. Lamontagne was a client to whom he was giving advice on a tax matter. He said he often visited clients’ businesses to conduct meetings.

The issue before the Inquiry panel last week was the admissibility into evidence of the video. Lawyers for Judge Girouard argued the publication of photos of their client with drug dealers or pedophiles in the course of his law practice would be damaging to his reputation and hurtful to his family. They also suggested the surveillance was unlawful and a violation of his fundamental rights.

Ms. Cossette responded saying that Judge Girouard should have no expectation of privacy when he conducts a meeting in a store with the office door open and a clerk and customers just a few steps away.

While Judge Girouard’s lawyers complained that Ms. Cossette was reaching far beyond her role as independent counsel, a strategy reminiscent of the perpetual criticism of independent counsel(s) in the Lori Douglas Inquiry, Chief Justice of Manitoba, Richard Chartier, who is chairing the Inquiry panel, confirmed his view that Ms. Cossette’s conduct was “very honourable”.

It remains to be seen whether Judge Girouard’s alleged conduct will be similarly ascribed.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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4 thoughts on “Canadian Judge Faces Scrutiny by Federal Judicial Council

  1. Is this surprising? Canada’s appointment system for judges was found, in a survey review, to be one of the most corrupt in the world – http://m.huffpost.com/ca/entry/5264567

    From having a (family) judge pissing on a lawn revealing herself, to a judicial council that has no accountability, Canada is a third world judicial backwater.

    Now this. What next? Had Porn, now drugs, next is prostitution perhaps?

  2. Deep Thinker, thanks for that link. It is very, very important that all Canadians realize that.

    Saw, on waterwar crimes blogsite, about alleged corruption in BC gov’t, etc. It seemed “unreal”. But, now, with the Huffington Post statistical survey, the corruption seems “real”.

  3. @LawDiva:
    “Perhaps even more damning is the existence of a surveillance video of the learned jurist recorded two weeks before his appointment to the bench,”

    Please post the link to the video .. is it as clear as Conrad Black getting into his Cadillac with the boxe of evidence?

    1. One has to ask wtf were they doing keeping those videos secret for all the time he was rendering judgment over the years?

      Something doesn’t smell right, and it’s not just the judicial council that should be looking into it, there needs to be an FBI investigation.

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