Brampton Justice of the Peace exonerated of misconduct

eb 17, 2009 02:05 PM
Bob Mitchell
Staff Reporter

A Brampton Justice of the Peace has been exonerated of any misconduct, including being drunk on the job.

JP John Farnum, 65, is expected to soon return to his duties on the bench at a Brampton courthouse.

He was paid to stay home for the past year until allegations, some dating back five years, were investigated and heard by the Justices of the Peace Review Council. He has been a JP since 1988.

In finding no basis for misconduct, Madam Justice Mary Hogan said Farnun's "pattern of behaviour put the public first" and that he appears to always try to not "inconvenience" the public "or keep them waiting" in the course of his duties in one of Canada's most demanding courthouses.

Farnum made mistakes but they didn't amount to the pattern of misconduct alleged by Crown counsel Gavin Mackenzie, she said in her recently-released written decision.

"Everyone can make mistakes in these circumstances," she said. "JP Farnum testified that he learned from his mistakes."

Five allegations of misconduct were levied against him, including that he was intoxicated at work on Feb. 14, 2006 and that he had abdoned his duties.

A fellow JP testified she thought he was drunk but three other JPs denied ever telling her they agreed with her or smelled alcohol on him.

She testified she smelled alcohol on him when he passed her in the hall as well as in an office he was using.

The inquiry heard that another JP sent Farnum home because he was ill, not because he was drunk.

Farnum denied he was intoxicated when he testified at the inquiry. He felt ill and didn't hear himself being paged to a courtroom. Nobody phoned his office.

He was also accused of using a van of a paralegal while on duty on Aug. 13, 2003. He admitted driving it and parking it in the secured indoor parking area not for the public.

He testified he was called to attend court that day after being at another court but his car was in the shop. Not wishing to be late, he accepted the paralegal's offer to use his vehicle.

Hogan found he also simply made a mistake when he convicted a man of a traffic offence on Jan. 15, 2004 but registered a conviction for a lesser offence and a smaller fine.

He was accused of hearing a matter involving two friends in his office on May 18, 2004 when he wasn't scheduled to be the intake justice before the cases went to trial the same day. He was found not guilty of showing favouritism.

He was also found to have made an error in judgement in re-opening a criminal matter on Aug. 16, 2004 without having documents or recording the matter.

Farnum could have been suspended with or without pay or fired had he been found guilty .



Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


Just how many "errors in judgment" does it take for a Justice of the Peace to be removed?

The list above of "errors in judgment" is staggering and

is a classic example of just how unaccountable the Judiciary is.