Welland justice of the peace should be removed from office, discipline body says

For the second time in less than three months, an Ontario discipline body has recommended that a justice of the peace be removed from office.

The case is that of Welland JP Richard Bisson, who admitted to judicial misconduct at a hearing last year before a panel of the Justices of the Peace Review Council, the independent body tasked with investigating and disciplining JPs.

The Justices of the Peace Review Council is recommending Welland JP Richard Bisson be removed from office for judicial misconduct on Sept. 9, 2015.  (Dreamstime)




Among other things, Bisson admitted to failing to explain the court process to a self-repesented litigant before finding him guilty, without hearing submissions from either side and without giving reasons; failing to conduct what are called “plea inquiries” to ensure that litigants pleading guilty fully understood what they were doing; failing to hear submissions from defendants before imposing fines; as well as being rude and discourteous in court, including making comments to a female paralegal “that appeared to demonstrate sexual innuendo.”

All of this happened on a single day: Sept. 9, 2015.

On Tuesday, the discipline panel — made up of a provincial court judge, justice of the peace and community member — recommended that Ontario’s newly installed attorney general, Caroline Mulroney, fire Bisson.

“In the panel’s view, His Worship Bisson is unwilling or unable to change his ways. His Worship has not upheld the standard of conduct expected of a judicial officer necessary to uphold public confidence in him, the judiciary, and the justice system,” the panel said in its decision.

“To preserve and restore confidence in the judiciary in general, there is no alternative other than to recommend to the attorney general that His Worship Bisson be removed from office.”

A spokesperson for Mulroney said she is reviewing the discipline panel's recommendation.

Justices of the peace, who earn $132,000 a year, are appointed by the provincial government. They preside over bail hearings, authorize search warrants and conduct trials in provincial offences court, which deals with non-criminal matters, among other duties.

Bisson was appointed in 1993. His lawyer, who had argued that Bisson be suspended and ordered to apologize, did not return the Star’s request for comment.