Sample of Complaints received during 1994-1995
In the complaint of gender bias against a woman, the complainant, a party to a divorce action in which she sought to have a separation agreement set aside, alleged the judge was hostile to her, appeared to have predetermined the outcome without hearing both sides, had a hearing disability, had a marked age bias and demonstrated a gender bias against women. She objected to the judge allowing counsel to raise questions about the parties' "sexual life" in determining whether they had resumed co-habitation.
The judge denied these allegations. While he objected to being questioned on the basis that the complaint involved a matter for appeal, not for the Council, he responded to factual questions and provided documentation. The Committee Chairman informed the complainant that her recourse must be by way of appeal, not the Council. The Chairman noted that her own counsel had agreed the only issue at trial was whether the separation agreement had been voided by the resumption of co-habitation and, therefore, many of the questions she thought should have been heard were not in issue at trial.
In one case, the complainant alleged the judge had made up his mind before trial, failed to hear both sides of the case, had abused his power by telling the complainant to either settle the amount of support he was required to pay or the order at trial would be higher, and had habitually demonstrated bias against men.
The judge provided a point by point rebuttal. The lawyers involved denied there was anything untoward in the judge's behaviour. The Chairman concluded there was no evidence of judicial misconduct and the file was closed. The complainant then alleged by letter to the Chairman of the Council that the Committee Chairman was biased because he was a close colleague of the judge involved in the complaint. The complainant was advised that in future any complaint concerning a member of the Council would be referred to an independent counsel. Independent counsel was asked to review the file. He found it had been properly closed, and concluded that nothing in the documentation supported the allegation of bias.
In another complaint, a judge was alleged to have demonstrated bias in 1990 by granting interim custody of the complainant's child to the former wife.
The Committee Chairman found that the judge had done no more than adjourn the matter and advised the complainant that given the circumstances and the long delay no further action would be taken.
One complainant alleged bias because the judge questioned him about whether he was living with a member of the opposite sex but did not pose the same question to his former wife. He also complained that the judge had ordered him to telephone his counsel, who was late, and when the complainant's lawyer arrived the judge was already in the process of calculating the amount of support.
The judge noted that because the motion was to be decided on the basis of affidavit evidence, he had been persuaded by opposing counsel to proceed, and that the complainant's lawyer had been present before judgment was rendered. The Committee Vice-Chairman found no evidence of either judicial misconduct or bias.
Another complainant alleged that, in proceedings before the Court of Appeal, one of the judges had repeated three times that all men who appeared before him were liars and that the other two judges on the appeal panel nodded their head in agreement. The complainant alleged bias.
All three judges categorically denied the comment had been made. The Chairman advised the complainant that there was no valid basis for his complaint.
A complainant alleged bias against him in a divorce proceeding because of his "Arabic origins" alleged a conspiracy between the judge and opposing counsel, and objected to the undue length of the trial.
The judge denied that he was biased or that he was even acquainted with opposing counsel. He noted that he had encouraged the parties to settle to avoid lengthy litigation but they had not and the trial had lasted 19 days. The Vice-Chairman found the allegations to be without foundation.
A second alleged bias on the basis of his being Jewish and an immigrant from the Soviet Union. He complained of demeaning comments by the judge that were tantamount to racism.
The judge denied making any demeaning comments. He noted that he had questioned the wisdom of the man representing himself on a patent infringement case. The Chairman concluded there was no basis for the complaint of bias.
A complainant alleged that a judge had knowingly admitted perjured evidence to a breach of contract proceeding against his former solicitors and had conspired with opposing counsel against him. He alleged racial bias because of his African descent.
The Chairman found no evidence to support the complainant's allegations.
Another complainant alleged racial discrimination by a judge in a case in which he represented himself in an action seeking damages from a law society, a law firm, one of its lawyers and a credit institution. He claimed the judge was in a conspiracy with the counsel for the law firm and, in particular, had discussed having a security officer in court to intimidate him.
The judge, when asked for comment, said he had requested security without consulting anyone other than the trial co-ordinator because of the tenor of the allegations in the materials that had been filed. Opposing counsel also denied having discussed security with the judge. The Chairman found the allegations of bias and prejudice unsupported by anything other than the complainant's statements. He noted that the judge was entitled to take steps to ensure the security of the courtroom and closed the file on the basis there was no evidence of any misconduct.
A complainant alleged racial bias by a judge who had tried and convicted her son, who is black, of various offences and said the judge's racism was evidenced by a 29-month sentence.
The judge provided a transcript of the trial which did not sustain the complainant's allegations, including the length of the sentence, which was 20 months, not 29. The Chairman found no evidence to provide grounds for a formal investigation.
A plaintiff in a personal injury suit complained, in a letter primarily containing allegations against her own lawyers and opposing counsel, that the judge was racially biased, had allowed opposing counsel to humiliate her and told the lawyers she was lying and trying to "fleece the system".
The judge denied making this statement and said he did everything in his power to ensure that no hint of racism was tolerated in his court. The Chairman found no evidence to support the allegation of racism.
A complainant, who was charged and convicted of trespass in the matrimonial home after possession was awarded to his former wife, complained of racial bias by the trial judge and three appeal court judges.
The Chairman found "absolutely no evidence supporting" his allegations of racism.
In an insurance claim, a complainant who had represented himself alleged that the judge had made sarcastic and highly prejudicial remarks in dismissing his claim as frivolous and vexatious. The judges hearing his appeal, he alleged, were motivated by racial bias and a desire to cover up for the trial judge.
The Chairman, on the basis of his review, found that the dismissal of the complainant's claim was not surprising in that he had already accepted a cash settlement and signed a general release of all claims. The Chairman also found no evidence in the comments attributed to the judge to support the allegation of racial bias.
A complainant who had represented himself on three different occasions before three judges complained that each of the judges was biased against him on the basis of his race.
Notwithstanding the absence of supporting information in his letter of complaint, all three judges and their chief justice were asked for comment. Each denied the allegation. One judge had dismissed the complainant's motion for an interim injunction against a police force and said the complainant appeared to be wasting the court's time. The second found a different motion frivolous and an abuse of the court's process. The third noted that the proceedings in question had occurred some years before and said the complainant was seriously and specifically in error in alleging racism. The complainant was advised there was insufficient evidence to warrant any further investigation of the complaints.
A complainant alleging religious bias, who had been the defence counsel at trial, objected to the judge ordering spectators in the court to remove their hats and headgear or leave. In the complainant's view, many of them were wearing hats for religious reasons. The judge, he complained, dismissed a motion that would allow those wearing hats for religious reasons to continue to wear them in court.
The judge, in responding to a request for comment, noted that the trial involved a well-known black activist accused of offences under federal legislation, and that, after the defendant was convicted, a large number of people appeared for the sentencing hearing wearing headgear. He said he was unwilling to clear the court because a number of spectators had sat peacefully through the trial. Having consulted with the provincial department of multiculturalism to determine whether a kufi was an item of religious apparel in the Muslim faith and being advised it was not, he ordered those who would not remove their headgear to leave. The Chairman found that the judge, in exercising his authority to maintain order in the courtroom, was acting in an area involving legal rights that could not be decided or reviewed by the Council. The complainant was advised that the matter properly should be decided by a court of appeal.
A complainant, a party in a family proceeding, alleged that a judge demonstrated a "buddy, buddy fondness" for opposing counsel which was presumed to be the result of their being in the same orchestra. The complainant alleged opposing counsel had "judge shopped", a process that had involved a request for a change of venue, and complained that the decision had gone against her because the judge was in a conflict of interest.
The judge denied the allegation, saying that his acquaintance with opposing counsel was limited to attending concerts put on by the local amateur orchestra, in which opposing counsel performed. He also indicated that he had heard argument from this counsel at least 100 times since his appointment to the bench nine years earlier. The complaint was judged to be without merit.
Another complainant alleged that a judge had pre-determined the outcome of her case and had "sabotaged and falsified" the tape recordings of the proceedings. She also alleged the judge had been "bought off" by the opposing side and would not, as a consequence, allow her lawyer to speak or make his submissions.
The complaint was found to be without basis and she was advised that her recourse was by way of appeal.
A complainant, representing himself in a family law proceeding, alleged that each of three judges was in conflict of interest and should not have presided at the hearing. He alleged that one judge was once a member of his ex-wife's law firm, that a second had been involved in winding up his father's legal practice and/or estate, and that the third knew the in-laws of his current wife.
The first judge had withdrawn when the complainant raised an objection, the second denied he had been involved with the complainant's father's legal practice or estate, and the third, while acknowledging he knew the in-laws of the complainant's current wife, denied this constituted a conflict. The complaint was found to be without valid grounds.
A complainant alleged that a chief justice had intervened in an improper manner when a complaint was lodged by three lawyers against a judge in the chief justice's court in that he had directed that the judge should not hear cases involving these lawyers. The complainant said this intervention was a "conflict of interest" that "staggers the imagination" and that, as a result, the complaint against the judge might not be investigated because the chief justice involved was then the Chairman of the Council's Judicial Conduct Committee.
The chief justice responded that he had decided it would be unseemly and possibly unfair to litigants to expect lawyers who had complained about a judge to plead their cases before that judge. He had directed, on a temporary basis, that the judge not hear any cases where the three lawyers were involved as counsel. The complaint was found to be without merit and it was concluded that the chief justice acted in the best interests of the administration of justice in his province. The chief justice had taken no part in the handling of the complaint file against the judge and so no conflict could be said to have existed.
A complainant, who had contested his father's will, claimed that the judge who presided over the second of two trials had previously been involved with the matter some years earlier as honorary secretary of the law society when the complainant had lodged a complaint against the lawyer who had acted for him in the first trial. He also claimed that the judges in both trials made errors of law.
The judge advised that he had no recollection of any earlier involvement with the case but, in any event, his involvement would have been limited to appointing a bencher to investigate and report, after which, as honorary secretary, the judge would have signed any correspondence. The complainant was advised, on the basis of the information provided by the judge and relevant documentation supporting it, that there was no conflict arising out of the judge's involvement with the case as honorary secretary of the law society.
A complainant in a divorce proceeding alleged that the judge reached a wrong decision (to delay
a proceeding for a week and a half) because the judge and the lawyer for her husband are friends.
It was found that there was "nothing to suggest that this lawyer and judge were friends, and even if they were, a delay from July 21, 1994, to August 2, 1994, is not one that suggests injustice."
A lawyer complained that a judge gave legal advice to the defendant in a small claims action launched by the complainant's law firm, and attached a letter by the defendant describing the assistance provided by the judge in having the court administration locate a lost file containing a judgment. The complainant contended that this would place his firm and its clients in a difficult position if they were to have to appear before the judge "who is adverse to us in this case by reason of his counselling a former client of ours who we are having to sue for payment of our fees."
The judge denied categorically giving legal advice, and expressed surprise that anyone would so infer from the defendant's letter. He said his tax returns are prepared by the defendant who, at a routine meeting, had told him that a law firm acting on his behalf had had difficulty locating a court file and the judge, on returning to work, asked the court administration to locate it. This occurred, the judge said, before the small claims proceeding commenced. The complainant was provided with a copy of the judge's reply in closing the file.
A complainant said a judge was biased against him because the opposing party in a proceeding was represented by a lawyer from the judge's former firm.
The complainant was advised that some care is taken to ensure that judges do not hear cases involving their former firms for some two to five years after their appointment to the bench. Since the judge had been appointed to the bench nearly 10 years before, the complainant was advised that there was no need for him to disqualify himself from hearing the case.
A complainant alleged that a trial judge erred in making adverse findings of credibility and that the Court of Appeal judges had decided to "cover up" for their "brother judge." The complainant was advised that he appeared to be asking the Council to "second-guess the judges who heard the trial and the appeal and to reach a different decision."
He was advised that the Council had no jurisdiction to do this and the file was closed. The complainant subsequently alleged conflict of a different nature, that the trial judge and one of appeal court judges were benchers of the Law Society at a time when the complainant filed a complaint against his solicitor in 1980. The complainant was advised that this issue should have been raised at trial and before the appeal court and the Council had no jurisdiction to act on this complaint either.
Complaint 25 delay in rendering decision
One complainant objected to a 20-month delay in rendering a decision of an appeal heard in 1992 from the decision of an administrative tribunal.
On receiving the complaint, the judge rendered decision, and expressed his regret for the delay. In closing the file, the Chairman of the Committee noted that delays in rendering judgment were of concern to the Council but that, as judgment had been rendered, no further investigation was warranted.
Another complaint concerned a lengthy delay, and noted that the complainants were hesitant to write to the Council because they feared "retaliation by the judge."
The Chairman, on asking for comment from the judge, found that reasons for judgment had been rendered eight months after the case was heard and, on learning this, closed the file.
The complainant objected to a delay of approximately three months in rendering judgment in a family law case.
The complainant was advised that, the judge having warned of possible delay because of the unusual circumstances of the case, there was no undue delay in receiving judgment and the file was closed.
Another case involved counsel objecting to undue delay in rendering judgment in a case argued in 1992.
Before action could be taken on the file, the judge's chief justice wrote to advise that the reasons for judgment were signed and delivered a day or two after the judge received the copy of the complaint but would have been issued at that time regardless of the complaint. The complainant was advised of this and that the file was closed, but he wrote again expressing surprise that a unilateral decision had been made to close the file in light of the serious delay involved. The complainant was advised that the Council considered undue delays to be a serious concern but, as there was no pattern of delayed decisions on the judge's part, the file would remain closed.
Two complainants, on the basis of a newspaper article, objected to the circumstances surrounding a judge's acquittal of a man charged with sexual assault. The complainants alleged that the judge was insensitive in proceeding to try the case, which required the victim in the case to give evidence after the accused had entered a guilty plea, and they objected to the man's acquittal despite the plea.
The judge explained that he had not been satisfied that the Crown and defence had agreed on a statement of facts and, because he was concerned that the accused was not adequately represented, he rejected the guilty plea. The Court of Appeal judgment on the case did not comment on the correctness of the judge's rejecting the guilty plea. The complaint was held to be without basis, and a detailed letter was sent to the complainants explaining the principles involved.
The Council received a dozen individual complaints and more than 30 form letter complaints signed by one or more people expressing dissatisfaction with the outcome of the Martensville, Saskatchewan, trial of various charges related to sexual assault.
While the letters were of a diffuse and unspecified nature, with little or nothing to do with judicial conduct, a detailed, seven-page letter was sent to each of the complainants. The letter explained that many of the issues were outside of the mandate of the Council in that they involved judicial decisions rather than conduct. The allegations of bias and inappropriate comments on the part of the trial judge were found to be unsupported by the facts. Because of the high level of public interest in Saskatchewan and because it was public knowledge that the Council had been sent numerous complaints, the Council issued a press release on the case.
A complainant, who represented himself in a criminal proceeding, alleged that the judge was inebriated on the bench.
The judge vehemently denied the allegation. The chief justice, who had also received a letter from the complainant, reported that he had thoroughly investigated the allegation and found it to be without substance. The file was closed.
Two complaints, one from an individual and the other from a person writing on behalf of an organization, alleged that a judge had used inappropriate language in the course of a sexual assault trial. The complainants alleged the judge had referred to a woman as "very unattractive" and "grossly obese".
The judge explained that his comments had been in a summary of the Crown's argument against the accused and were intended to improve the credibility of the victim and her mother before the jury, which found the accused guilty. The judge said he had intended the words in a "kindly" way. The complaints were found to be without basis and the complainants were informed of this, and of the contents of a letter from the judge explaining his comment and expressing his regret.
A complainant, who sought to have herself declared administrator of her deceased spouse's estate, claimed the judge acted outside his jurisdiction in ordering that her child undergo blood tests to prove paternity. She alleged that the judge had predetermined the outcome of her case and failed to hear both sides.
The judge responded that, despite 34 motions to be dealt with that day, the clerk of the court noted that an hour and 45 minutes had been spent on the application. He denied any rudeness or abruptness, said the complainant's allegation was based on hearsay because she had not been in court that day, noted that the complainant's lawyer had been unacceptably rude and argued that the matter of the blood test was for appeal, not for consideration by the Council. In view of the discrepancy between the two versions, an independent fact-finding was initiated which concluded that the judge had been greatly influenced by his conclusion that the complainant was trying to mislead the court concerning the periods of co-habitation with the deceased, and this had led him to ignore evidence filed on her behalf. The fact-finder said there was reason for concern at the way the hearing concluded and noted that counsel for the Official Guardian, who was present at the hearing, confirmed the complainant's version of events. Specifically, the fact-finder reported that the judge had granted the order for testing 30 minutes after the hearing commenced and had refused to allow complainant's counsel to complete his submissions. The fact-finder also noted that the judge was acting in a pressured atmosphere which caused him to make a superficial and erroneous determination, and fail to scrutinize the evidence, provide a full opportunity for submissions or demonstrate any sensitivity to the likely impact upon the complainant of the order which he had made. The fact-finder concluded that although "there is certainly no misconduct which could warrant removal and the gist of the complaint is an erroneous decision, there do appear to be circumstances which justify the complainant in feeling that she did not have her 'day in court'." The complainant was advised that the issue of whether blood tests should have been ordered was a legal one for review by a court of appeal. In the event, the Court of Appeal ruled that the judge had erred and reversed his decision. No evidence was found that the judge acted out of deliberate bias or malice, nor was there evidence of misconduct in dealing with the complainant's counsel. As a result there was no basis for further action by the Council, and the Council had no authority to grant reimbursement or compensation as the complainant had requested.
A complainant, represented by counsel in an action to settle a debt arising from the operation of one of his businesses, complained that three appeal court judges were biased against him. Although the complainant was not present at the hearing in question, he argued that the court did not allow his counsel to present all of his arguments, and maintained that one of the three judges was "quite vocal in his dislike for me and my court cases." Another judge, he alleged, had made a "parting shot" that had hurt his case.
The allegations were denied by the judges who explained that, after hearing full argument by the complainant's counsel, the judges had discussed the case for 15 minutes and had decided there was no merit in the case of the complainant, who was the appellant in the case. The court then, in accordance with usual practice, had decided not to hear the arguments of the respondent. The complainant was advised there was no evidence of bias and no grounds for further action by the Council.
A complainant alleged that in 1959, he had engaged the judge, then a lawyer, to act on his behalf in a criminal proceeding related to default of family support payments. He contended the judge, in his capacity as a lawyer, had entered a guilty plea contrary to his instructions.
The judge noted that the complainant had filed a complaint against him with the law society and it had dismissed the complaint. The complainant was informed that the Council would not pursue his complaint as it involved events which occurred some 35 years previously, had been dismissed by the law society, and the complainant's allegation of inappropriate conduct was unsupported.
A blind complainant was represented by her son, who was not a lawyer, in a case in which her husband was the plaintiff. She alleged that a judge was rude and "without due cause or reason shouted at me and members of my family, called upon a police officer and threatened that I would be ousted by the police officer were I to fail to go to and remain at the back of the courtroom." The complainant contended that the judge's conduct was a "conspicuous abuse of his authority and power" that "precluded us from effectively presenting our position before the Court, obstructed the provision of justice" and "threatened the very safety and security of me and other members of my family."
The judge explained that the events of that day took place in pressured circumstances, and noted that the complainant and her two sons had all started talking at once. He said he ordered the complainant to sit down and may have ordered her to be silent and when she resisted this "I believe I repeated my orders" and then called for security, at which stage one of her sons challenged his treatment of the complainant. It was at that point, the judge said, that he realized the complainant was blind. He tendered his apology to the complainant. The complainant was provided with the letter from the judge and advised that "the judge may well have become impatient or even impolite" but that she and her sons "were not entirely free from blame if that occurred."
A complainant, convicted of the second degree murder of his wife, said he had been convicted on the basis of the trial judge's "gut reaction", (in the words the judge purportedly used to a lawyer), and that the three appeal judges were "incompetent or perverse or both."
The trial judge denied he had ever convicted anyone on that basis. The complainant was advised that having a "gut reaction" did not constitute misconduct so long as the decision was not made on that basis, and that making a comment like that might be unwise but would fall far short of what would be required for the Council to recommend a judge's removal from the bench. The complaint about the three appeal court judges was found to be without merit and the Council would not further investigate these unsubstantiated allegations.
A complainant alleged that a judge, prior to his appointment to the bench, had sent him threatening letters and, while a lawyer, was involved, in some fashion, in setting a fire in the complainant's house.
The judge provided a detailed description of his knowledge of the complainant who had been fired from a company the judge represented before his appointment to the bench. He denied the alleged conduct and the complaint was found to be unsupported by evidence.
Two complainants alleged that during judicial review of a tribunal decision, the judge had demonstrated rudeness, unprofessional behaviour and bias.
The judge commented that he regretted this impression but there was always a risk that witnesses or counsel might feel resentment, rancour or indignation at a presiding judge's comments. A panel established to review the complaint consulted the transcript of proceedings and concluded there was no evidence of improper motive or intent on the judge's part. But the panel felt the judge's manner was sufficiently rude as to warrant an expression of disapproval of his conduct.
Two complainants made various allegations of misconduct against six judges, including an allegation that her case was pre-judged based on a judge's impression of her, that judges failed to inform her that they had contacted the law society about her competence, and that a defendant to her own action seeking damages was favourably treated by certain of the judges.
The panel found no impropriety in a judge raising concerns about competency with a law society, and supported as well judges co-operating with law society investigations of lawyers. The panel, which was required to delay its findings on the other issues until the pending action had been concluded, also found there was no evidence of pre-judgment and no basis for the allegation of bias. The second complainant, also a lawyer, made four allegations of improper conduct against three judges, one of whom was also the object of the first complainant's allegations. The panel found three of these allegations to be without foundation. The fourth was withdrawn by the complainant. Later this lawyer withdrew all his allegations against the judges, to whom he sent a complete apology.
A complainant alleged that a judge's presence in the courtroom as a spectator during a family law proceeding was unethical and constituted a conflict of interest.
The judge acknowledged that he was in the court for five minutes in street clothes because he wished to speak to a friend, the counsel for the complainant's wife, and wished to determine when the hearing would conclude. He acknowledged as well that the complainant's wife once had been a client. He denied, however, that he intended to influence the outcome. A panel reviewed the complaint, inviting comment from the judge, his chief justice and the presiding judge. The presiding judge said he noted the judge's presence but was not aware of his friendship with opposing counsel, and his presence had no influence on the outcome of the case. Nor was there any communication about the case between the judges. The panel accepted "without reservation" that there was no intention of influencing the result, nor had the judge's presence had that effect. Nor, the panel decided, was there any conflict of interest or unethical conduct. However, the panel also noted that judges should have as little as possible to do with cases in which they have previously acted as counsel. In light of the judge's connection with the case and the consequent possibility that "a litigant could suspect that a former opponent was in a position to influence the result," the panel advised that the judge ought not to have appeared in court.
Seven complainants alleged that a judge made disparaging remarks about them in reasons for judgment in a negligence suit. The complainants contended that the judge's comments were harmful to their professional and personal reputations.
The file was held in abeyance pending judgment on appeal. The appellate judgment found that the judge had misapprehended his function and that the judge had made unjustified digressions from the issues raised by the pleadings, including suggestions of criminal conduct on the part of people who were not parties to the action. An independent fact-finder found that in all the cases the judge had made allegations of serious misconduct against people who were not party to a proceeding. However, the investigator found no evidence of improper motive. The panel to which the complaints were referred expressed disapproval of the conduct in question, noting that the fundamental importance of judicial independence notwithstanding, the judge's comments were gratuitous and intemperate and created an unfavourable impression of the judiciary.
A complainant representing himself in seeking the return of family photographs awarded to him in a divorce judgment providing for division of family property complained that a judge was rude and insensitive.
The judge denied any rudeness or insensitivity but an independent fact-finder concluded the complaint was justified. The investigator noted the judge's comments that "this isn't the kind of thing grown people bring into Court" and evidence that the judge refused to listen to the complainant and did not let him finish his submissions. The Panel concluded that the judge's comments to the complainant were insulting and trivialized the complainant's attempt to have the property settlement enforced, and expressed its disapproval of the judge's conduct. However, the Panel found no indication of malicious or perverse motives on the judge's part and, therefore, concluded that no further action was warranted.
A complainant representing himself in small claims court alleged that the judge treated him abusively and ridiculed and humiliated him because he is short. The complainant said that his wife, who was in the courtroom, told him the judge had ridiculed him with gestures each time that he returned to his seat, provoking laughter from those in the court.
An independent fact-finder found the judge's actions and remarks were not always appropriate. The Panel sent an expression of disapproval to the judge asking him to "examine and reflect on (his) judicial style in future" but did not recommend any further action by the Council.
A complainant alleged that a judge was in conflict of interest in a property dispute to which her husband was a party. The judge, she said, lives next door to the lawyer acting for the opposing party and said the judge told them to sign the real estate forms or be held in contempt of court.
The judge denied living next door to opposing counsel, but said he had suggested the name of a Realtor to evaluate the disputed property. He had left the parties free to contact their own Realtor, but had spoken to a Realtor involved in providing the valuation, had determined which was the best offer and had telephoned counsel for both parties to relay the offers for them. The Chairman, believing the judge's direct involvement in the valuation and offer process was undesirable, established a two-member panel, which asked outside counsel to undertake further inquiries. On the basis of the fact-finding, the panel noted that the judge was motivated by a desire to expedite matters and reduce legal fees, and that opposing counsel had accepted his recommendation. But the panel felt that in future the judge should not recommend particular real estate firms to conduct evaluations.