Reformation of the Practitioner vs. Respect for the Profession

The Quebec Court of Appeal grappled with whether the sanctioning of a Judge should focus on whether the Judge’s behaviour could be reformed or whether the public’s respect for the judiciary should be safeguarded. In Bradley (Re), 2018 QCCA 1145,, the Court dealt with a recommendation by the Quebec Judicial Council that Judge Bradley be removed from office for disrespectful conduct towards two litigants in a $500 fence repair dispute. Judge Bradley tried to force the parties to settle the matter and, when they indicated resolution was not possible, declined to hold the hearing. It was the second complaint against Judge Bradley.

The only two sanctioning options available were a reprimand or recommending removal from office. The majority of the Court concluded that Judge Bradley had demonstrated insight into his conduct and had only one prior complaint in a career that involved hundreds of cases. They ordered a reprimand. A minority of the Court would have upheld the recommendation for removal because the conduct of Judge Bradley could undermine the confidence of the public in the judiciary. This tension between the views as to which consideration should be given primacy might have been avoided if a sanction between reprimand and removal were available.

The Court also expressed concerns about the fact that the Council did not separate the hearing into a finding stage and a sanctioning stage. However, even those Justices who expressed the most serious concern about the issue concluded that the problem was resolved by the new hearing before the Court of Appeal.

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