Canadian Judicial Council constitutes a public inquiry into the conduct of the Honourable Michel Déziel

Ottawa, 16 April 2014 – The Canadian Judicial Council announced today that an Inquiry Committee will be held under the Judges Act about the Honourable Michel Déziel of the Quebec Superior Court.

The decision was made by a Review Panel of three judges, including two members of the Canadian Judicial Council. After a careful review of the matter, the members of the Panel decided that allegations relating to the financing of a Municipal election prior to Justice Deziel's appointment to the judiciary, are serious enough that they may warrant the judge's removal from office. Accordingly, an Inquiry Committee will hear the matter.

It's important to note that the allegations regarding the judge have not been proven. The Inquiry Committee will have the responsibility of establishing the facts about this case and of presenting a report to the Council.

In accordance with Council's Inquiries and Investigations by-Laws, the Inquiry Committee will be comprised of an uneven number of members, the majority of which will be Council members. The Minister of Justice will be invited to designate one or more members of the Bar. In accordance with the Council's By-laws, the Minister has 60 days to respond to this invitation. An "Independent Counsel" will be appointed to present the case to the Inquiry Committee.

Additional details, including the names of the Inquiry Committee members and of Independent Counsel, will be made public over the coming weeks.

Information about the role of the Canadian Judicial Council in administering an effective complaints review process, including its Complaints Procedures, and Policies regarding Inquiries can be found on the Council's website at http://www.cjc-ccm.ca.

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

 


Background Information - Complaints and Inquiries

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. When a complaint is determined to have some merit, the question before the Council is ultimately whether or not that conduct prevents that judge from continuing to discharge his or her duties. The reasons for removal are set out in the Judges Act and address cases where a judge has become incapacitated or disabled from performing their duties by reason of age or infirmity, misconduct, a failure to execute the duties of the position, or being in a position incompatible with the functions of a judge.

All complaints received by the Canadian Judicial Council are reviewed in accordance with Council's Complaints Procedures. A complaint is first reviewed by a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee. The judge in question, as well as the judge's chief justice, may be asked to comment on the allegations. If the complaint cannot be resolved at that stage, the file can be referred to a Panel of up to five judge for further review. After careful consideration, the Panel may close the file with an expression of concern if warranted or may recommend that the judge pursue counselling or other remedial measures.

After reviewing the matter and conducting various enquiries, the Panel may also conclude that the complaint may be serious enough to warrant a judge's removal and that an Inquiry Committee be constituted to formally investigate the matter.

An Inquiry Committee consists of an uneven number of members, the majority of which are Council members, along with other individuals, appointed by the Minister of Justice who are lawyers with a minimum of ten years experience. An independent lawyer is appointed to present the facts to the Committee which exercises the same authority and powers as a superior court . It is expected that any hearing of the Inquiry Committee would be conducted in public, unless the Inquiry Committee determines that the public interest requires that all or part of a hearing be conducted in private.

After completing its investigation, the Inquiry Committee will report its findings to Council. While Council accords considerable deference to the Inquiry Committee, it will then report its own recommendations to the Minister of Justice.

In accordance with the provisions of Canada's Constitution, a judge may only be removed from office after a joint address by Parliament.