Judging of judges should be public: Opposition critics

NDP, PC leaders say Ontario should end the secrecy shrouding the vast majority of complaints to the Judicial Council about provincially appointed judges.


Justice John Ritchie.

Critics at Queen’s Park are calling on the province to lift the veil of secrecy that keeps the public in the dark about investigations into complaints against judges.

“There is something suspicious about the whole process when there isn’t even a report put out to the public,” interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson said Monday. “I think the government should be held accountable.”

Wilson’s comments come after a Star investigation into a complaint against a Toronto judge who had been repeatedly admonished, and the system that keeps the vast majority of such complaints under lock and key.

Confidential documents, provided to the Star by an unknown source, detailed how the complaint was handled in secret, and the case closed.

According to the Ontario Judicial Council, which probes complaints against judges, there is a “general order,” permitted under Ontario law, banning the publication of any documents and information relating to complaints that don’t result in a public hearing.

The Star submitted an application to the Judicial Council on Monday to have the materials unsealed.

Justice John Ritchie confirmed in an interview last week that he was the subject of a complaint by the Criminal Lawyers’ Association two years ago. Following a review by the Judicial Council, he said he took a refresher course on how to write good judgments.

Ritchie said the council did not question the substance of any of his decisions. He is still hearing cases at Old City Hall.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office referred questions to Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur, who said she won’t interfere with the independence of the Judicial Council.

Meilleur said she has confidence in the complaints review process.

“I believe we have a very independent and fair system,” she said. “The independence of our judges is the hallmark of judiciary system and … other provinces like Quebec … (have) copied our process.”

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Ontarians should be informed about judges who don’t measure up.

“I would hope that situations like this are actually raised publicly, in a way that … sets an example for others in that field to avoid any kind of behaviour that leads to a lack of public trust,” she said.

Since he was appointed in 1999, Ritchie has been repeatedly chastised by Superior Court judges for the appearance of bias, delivering “boilerplate” reasons for conviction and legal errors. The city’s criminal defenders have stated their concerns on multiple occasions about Ritchie’s decisions, in media interviews.

Toronto defence lawyer Ari Goldkind, who regularly appears before Ritchie, said remedial action against a judge should be disclosed.

“The public should know that one of its members is not doing a great job,” said Goldkind, who is running for mayor. “Judges have considerable responsibility and the people appearing before (them) need to be confident that they are up to the task.”

The Judicial Council probes complaints against Ontario’s 330 provincially appointed judges. A judge and a community member investigate each complaint, before a review panel consisting of two other judges, a lawyer and a different community member decides whether a public hearing is warranted.

The council received an average of 40 complaints per year between 2007 and 2012. Only six public hearings have been concluded in the past decade, the council said. Complaints that don’t lead to a public hearing are summarized in an annual report that does not identify the judge or the complainant.

Toronto defence lawyer Anthony Moustacalis, president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, said Monday there should be a regular peer review process “to ensure continued competency standards” among judges are met.

“I don’t think you should be able to fall back on judicial independence for demonstrated judicial incompetence,” he said.

Moustacalis has declined to comment on the complaint against Ritchie, citing the order imposed by the Judicial Council.

Rachel Mendleson can be reached at rmendleson@thestar.ca .





Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


Ontario Superior court judges are selected by "the government" hand picked puppets who select the worst personalities who are most likely to abuse their power on behalf of the government.

Ontario is effectively a Fascist State where "Gender Superiority" means Judges make Political decisions instead of Legal decisions.

Take The Dishonourable Justice Robert Maranger who "Rubber Stamps" what ever the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa ask for.

Now, our Judiciary, terminate children's relationships with their full time fathers because their mothers engaged in unprovoked habitual violence towards children and male partners.

Then Corrupt Crown Attorney's like Vikii Bair of Ottawa stay charges against lawyers like Marguerite Isobel Lewis who fabricates evidence in the court room while Judges like Former CAS lawyer Tim Minnema turn a deliberate blind eye.

These are Ontario's worst criminals.

Our Judges who promote criminal offenses against the administration of Justice by failing to raise even a pinki when lawyers like Marguerite Isobel Lewis aka "the Baby-Snatcher" fabricate evidence before Judges.

It's enough to make you want to puke.

Ottawa Mens Centre