City mourns loss of judge

Richard Lajoie dies at age 62

By Ron Grech, The Daily Press

May 19, 2011

A long-serving Timmins judge, who moved to Ottawa in 2003, has died.

Judge Richard Lajoie died Wednesday following an illness. He was 62.

Lajoie was appointed to the bench in Timmins in 1987 and sat as a provincial court judge in Timmins for 16 years.

Judge Ralph Carr, who was appointed to the bench four years later, lamented the loss, saying Lajoie was a "real mentor" to him.

"He was very helpful to me... also in terms of our conversations, whenever I was in need of support or direction, he was always willing and capable to help. For that, I will be forever grateful.

"Since we heard about this yesterday (Wednesday) there's been a real cloud over the courthouse and the community, a real sense of profound loss."

Carr said Lajoie was "highly respected as a very learned and capable jurist ... He really set the tone for excellence in many respects. He was erudite in the law ... He operated at a high level in terms of his approach to the law and to people."

While personable as an individual, Lajoie maintained a professional conduct within his courtroom, Carr recalled.

"A judge's work is reflected to some extent not only from knowledge and learning but his personality and character. Richard took his job very seriously. He was a fellow who really enjoyed people and a good laugh. But when he was on the bench, it was serious business and he was always very focused on his task-at-hand. He was not afraid of making hard decisions as well."

For those who had worked with him in Timmins, Lajoie's passing was unexpected.

"I was certainly shocked and saddened personally to hear of his sudden passing," said Crown Attorney David Thomas, who came to Timmins in 1988, a year after Lajoie was appointed judge.


"He proved himself to be a very good jurist, he had a reputation of being a paragon of integrity and fairness. He had a real sense of when someone was telling the truth or when they were giving him some kind of contrivance from the witness stand."

Thomas said Lajoie was known to be a hard worker and a judge who was willing to put in long hours until a matter was completed.

Timmins lawyer Gord Conley, who was called to the bar in 1984, appeared before Judge Lajoie many times both as a defence lawyer and as a federal Crown.

"He was really fair. He was very thorough. He was no-nonsense in his courtroom. He wasn't crabby or grouchy but he had good control of his courtroom."

Conley recalled Lajoie as a "gentleman" in every capacity.

"He also was a real pleasure to speak to away from the court."

In 2003, Lajoie moved back to Ottawa, the city where he had previously practised law. There, he continued to preside over criminal courts.

Lajoie is survived by his wife Rita, his son Stephane and daughter Karine.

His funeral will be in Ottawa this Sunday.