Quebec lawyer Gilles Doré complained about the attitude, conduct and behaviour toward himself of Mr. Justice Jean-Guy Boilard of the Quebec Superior Court, alleging that he was incapable of performing the role of judge

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Quebec lawyer Gilles Doré complained about the attitude, conduct and behaviour toward himself of Mr. Justice Jean-Guy Boilard of the Quebec Superior Court, alleging that he was incapable of performing the role of judge. After receipt of a report of further inquiries from outside counsel, the file was referred to a Panel. The Panel decided not to recommend any investigation pursuant to subsection 63(2) of the Judges Act, but concluded that some of the judge’s remarks about the lawyer were unjustified and unacceptable. Mr. Justice Boilard was advised of the Panel’s concerns in a letter from the Chairperson of the Panel, and the Council’s file was closed. The complainant was provided with a copy of the Panel’s letter to the judge. Before he received the letter from the Council in July 2002, Mr. Justice Boilard was advised of its contents by a reporter, and he subsequently withdrew from the “Hell’s Angels mega-trial” he was conducting. In accordance with its normal practice, the Council had not made public its disposition of the file. However, after the letter sent to the judge by the Panel was made public, the Council issued a press release in response to numerous media calls.

The husband in divorce proceedings alleged that “the judge yelled very loudly and threatened to expel him from his seat beside his lawyer for whispering to her” and that the judge formed a negative opinion of his “character” early on and did a “character analysis” of him “which was utmost scathing.” He alleged that the judge yelled at his lawyer for various reasons. He said that he had never witnessed nor experienced “such blatant, emotionally charged, use of negative labelling by someone in such an important position of authority.” He complained that the judge discounted his witnesses’ statements as irrelevant and went out of his way in his reasons to write that he was “a most discreditable person.” The complainant said that the situation “wasn’t just stressful” but that the judge “made it a nightmare.” He asked whether the judge’s “attitude and curt manner” in his case were to be “considered the norm.”

A three-member Panel informed the complainant of his right to appeal alleged errors of fact or of law, including findings of credibility. The judge advised that an assessment of credibility was required in order to decide the case, but that he did not go out of his way to make the findings he did, nor did he recall thinking that the complainant was discreditable as a person — simply that he did not believe him as a witness. The complainant was informed that whether the judge was right or wrong in his findings of credibility could be reviewed only by way of appeal. The judge’s overall impression was that “it seemed unfortunate that both parties were insistent on dragging many irrelevant issues into court, particularly, but not limited to, the party who was represented by counsel and that he had admonished the complainant to stop talking loudly to his counsel in a “stage whisper,” something the complainant had done on numerous occasions prior to being cautioned by the judge. A review of the transcript of the proceedings had shown that at the start of the trial the judge had, patiently and at length, explained matters of procedure and points of law, spending time identifying the issues and advising both parties on evidence to be called. The complainant was informed that the Panel concluded that the judge appeared to be fair in that both parties were admonished or thanked from time to time, despite their evident difficulty in identifying relevant evidence and focussing on the issues. The complainant was advised that the judge acknowledged having shown some impatience at certain times during the trial. The Panel found that the judge made certain remarks during the trial proceedings which could be considered unfortunate. The judge indicated that he was sorry if the complainant was offended. The complainant was informed that no further intervention by the Council was warranted.