Judge's 'misuse' of power prompts inquiry
His ruling freed woman accused of killing, dismembering Kemptville ex-lover

Janice Tibbetts
The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

A bizarre homicide saga took a rare turn yesterday when the council that polices the judiciary said it will conduct an inquiry into the judge in the case after receiving a complaint from Ontario's attorney general.

The Canadian Judicial Council probe into Superior Court Justice Paul Cosgrove is being launched after the Ontario Court of Appeal accused him of making numerous legal errors and misunderstanding the Charter of Rights when he freed a woman from Barbados accused of murdering and dismembering her former lover while vacationing in Canada.

Two fishermen discovered 64-year-old Lawrence Foster's thighs floating in the Ottawa River near his Kemptville home in August 1995. Police then recovered his head, arms, hands, lower legs and feet.

In a case that has been condemned as a justice system fiasco, Judge Cosgrove concluded in 1999 that the charges against Julia Yvonne Elliott should be stayed on the grounds her right to a fair and speedy trial had been violated.

However, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the stay in December 2003, saying "there was no factual basis" for Judge Cosgrove's findings and that he had "misused his power."

The appeal court ordered a retrial for Ms. Elliott, who returned to her native Barbados after she was freed. She was arrested last month in Costa Rica "for extradition purposes," said a Justice Department spokeswoman.

No date has been set for her extradition.

The Canadian Judicial Council has the power to recommend to Parliament that a judge be removed from the bench. The council, composed of Canada's most senior judges, has made the recommendation only half a dozen times since Confederation, but the judges either died or resigned before they were fired.

The normal course of action is to conclude that a judge did nothing wrong or at most issue a public rebuke or order sensitivity training.

This case is unusual because the complaint against Judge Cosgrove came from Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant instead of a member of the public, meaning the judicial council

is required under the Judges Act to hold an inquiry.

"What the attorney general is saying is that his conduct was inappropriate during the trial," said Norman Sabourin, council executive director. He said the attorney general referred to the court of appeal decision as a basis for the complaint.

Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the attorney general, would not comment, and it was not known whether Judge Cosgrove will continue sitting on the bench while the inquiry proceeds.

The appeal court ruled the judge made numerous legal errors in accepting the defence's "unwarranted and unsubstantiated" accusations of Crown and police misconduct. The accusations included tunnel vision on the part of the lead investigator, inaccurate and misleading testimony by police officers, failure of investigators and the Crown to submit various items of evidence for testing and the deliberate destruction of an original handwritten draft case synopsis.

The Ontario Court of Appeal concluded "there was no factual basis for the findings" and "the trial judge misapprehended the evidence."

The three-judge appeal panel said the judge had "misused his power" and allowed investigations into matters that were extraneous to the real issues.

Mr. Foster, a retired auto mechanic, met Ms. Elliott while on vacation in Barbados in 1993. Before Judge Cosgrove halted the trial, testimony revealed that soon after Mr. Foster's death, Ms. Elliott used his credit card for cash advances and packed up his stereo, microwave, camera and hair dryer to send to her home in Barbados.
The Ottawa Citizen 2004

A crime is a crime
Many people support tougher punishment for crimes that are motivated by hatred of identifiable groups. But as understandable as it may be to support hate crime laws, it is a mistake.

Judge will be suspended until inquiry is finished

Jake Rupert
The Ottawa Citizen

April 29, 2004

Brockville Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Cosgrove, who faces an inquiry over his conduct during a murder trial he ordered stopped, will not hear cases until the matter is resolved, his boss said yesterday.

Eastern Ontario's senior Superior Court justice, Monique Metivier, said Judge Cosgrove's suspension is a matter of course while the Canadian Judicial Council conducts its inquiry.

"He won't be sitting or assigned until this matter is resolved," Judge Metivier said. "It's just an appropriate thing to do in view of the inquiry."

Judge Cosgrove's son said his father did not want to comment on the inquiry or the case until he consults with a lawyer.

Earlier this week, the council, which oversees all federally appointed judges, announced it would be holding an inquiry into the judge's actions during the murder trial of Julia Yvonne Elliott for the 1995 killing of Larry Foster, 64, of Kemptville.

Late last week, the council received a request for an inquiry from Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant, whose ministry includes the Crown attorneys who prosecuted Ms. Elliott. Under council rules, when a provincial or territorial attorney general requests an inquiry, it must be held.

Earlier this week, the council, which oversees all federally appointed judges, announced it would be holding an inquiry into the judge's actions during the murder trial of Julia Yvonne Elliott for the 1995 killing of Larry Foster, 64, of Kemptville.

Late last week, the council received a request for an inquiry from Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant, whose ministry includes the Crown attorneys who prosecuted Ms. Elliot. Under council rules, when a provincial or territorial attorney general requests an inquiry, it must be held.

In 1999, after a series of motions by Ms. Elliott's defence lawyer, Kevin Murphy, Judge Cosgrove found the accused's Charter rights to a fair and speedy trial had been seriously breached by police investigators and prosecutors, and ordered the case stopped.

Ms. Elliott went back to her native Barbados, and the Crown launched an appeal of the judge's ruling alleging the judge was biased and incompetent.

Last fall, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned Judge Cosgrove's stay ruling and ordered a new trial. The appeal court panel of three judges found "there was no factual basis" for Judge Cosgrove to stay proceedings against Ms. Elliott and that he had "misused his power" in several instances.

After the ruling, Ms. Elliott fled Barbados and was arrested in Costa Rica in the winter. She is being held in jail awaiting extradition back to Canada to face a new trial.

Ms. Elliot was charged after Mr. Foster's remains were found along the banks of the Rideau River near Kemptville in August 1995.

After an inquiry, the council has the power to recommend to Parliament that a judge be removed from the bench. This has only happened six times in Canada's history and those judges either quit or resigned before being fired. Most complaints are dismissed or the judges receive lesser penalties.

Officials at the council say the inquiry will take place in four to six months.
The Ottawa Citizen 2004