JP re­tires be­fore his sched­uled dis­ci­pline hear­ing

Crit­ics want pro­vin­cial law changed so re­tired jus­tices can an­swer com­plaints and be held ac­count­able

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - Jac­ques Gal­lant LE­GAL AF­FAIRS RE­PORTER thes­tar.com/gta

Less than a month be­fore he was set to face a dis­ci­pline hear­ing for al­legedly mak­ing racist re­marks about Indige­nous peo­ple in court, Kenora Jus­tice of the Peace Robert Mc­nally re­tired.

As a re­sult, the pub­lic hear­ing into his case sched­uled for this month was scrapped, as the law does not al­low for the dis­ci­plin­ing of re­tired jus­tices of the peace and pro­vin­cial court judges.

Crit­ics say it’s time for that to change, and to bring the sys­tem closer in line with other bod­ies that main­tain ju­ris­dic­tion for dis­ci­pline over re­tired pro­fes­sion­als, such as the Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons of On­tario.

“There is a pub­lic in­ter­est in ju­di­cial over­sight bod­ies re­tain­ing ju­ris­dic­tion to in- ves­ti­gate com­plaints and make ap­pro­pri­ate find­ings against ju­di­cial of­fi­cers even when they re­tire or re­sign,” said Michael Lacy, pres­i­dent of the Crim­i­nal Lawyers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, one of the or­ga­ni­za­tions that had com­plained about Mc­nally to the Jus­tices of the Peace Re­view Coun­cil.

“Al­though sanc­tions might be lim­ited in such a case, there is value in al­low­ing hear­ings to pro­ceed. It would pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for the ju­di­cial of­fi­cer to an­swer the com­plaint and po­ten­tially clear his or her name in the face of a se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tion,” Lacy said.

Mc­nally, whose re­tire­ment was ef­fec­tive Dec. 31, is the fourth jus­tice of the peace in less than four years to avoid fac­ing a dis­ci­pline hear­ing by re­tir­ing. In some of the other cases, the coun­cil rec­om­mended that the re­tired jus­tices be com­pen­sated for part of their le­gal costs, even though no hear­ing ended up be­ing held.

Judges and jus­tices of the peace have also re­tired while their cases were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by coun­cil com­plaints com­mit­tees; in those cir­cum­stances, their names are kept se­cret and only a sum­mary of the com­plaint against them is pub­lished in the coun­cils’ an­nual re­ports.

Jus­tices of the peace earn about $132,000 a year, and are ap­pointed by the prov­ince. Dressed in black robes and green sashes, they con­duct bail hear­ings, sign off on search war­rants and pre­side over tri­als in pro­vin­cial of­fences court, which deals with non-crim­i­nal mat­ters.

As first re­ported by the Star , Mc­nally was al­leged to have made racist re­marks in bail court in Au­gust 2017 to lawyer Shannon Mc­dun­nough, who is Mi’kmaq.

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Robert Mc­nally, who re­tired on Dec. 31, was ac­cused of mak­ing racist com­ments.

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