July 12, 2018
Duval Hesler, Hilton, Dutil, Bich, Levesque
Report of the Court of Appeal on the conduct of Judge R. Peter Bradley. The Court declared that the judge had contravened ss. 1, 6 and 8 of the Judicial Code of Ethics (CQLR, c. T-16, r. 1) and that a reprimand was required, with dissenting reasons as to the sanction. Application for judicial review. Dismissed.
Judge Bradley, who was sitting at the Small Claims Division of the Court of Quebec, unduly pressured the parties to settle their dispute and adjourned without cause a hearing over which he should have presided the same day. He also breached his duty of courtesy during the hearing on January 19, 2016, by the tone and nature of his remarks. His misconduct breached ss. 1, 6 and 8 of the Judicial Code of Ethics.
Contrary to Judge Bradley’s arguments before the inquiry committee, his conduct could not be justified by the mere fact that he was presiding over a hearing in the Small Claims Division and had to conciliate the parties. The courts’ mission in encouraging mediation and conciliation in no way changes the fact that these modes of settlement cannot be imposed on the parties. The circumstances must lend themselves to medication and the parties must consent to mediation. It is not a question of forcing the parties to engage in what may be a dead-end process. One might question whether, on the day of the hearing, Judge Bradley was even attempting to conciliate the parties within the meaning of art. 540, para. 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CQLR, c. C-25.01), given that instead of helping them to find common ground, he chose instead to endlessly exhort them to settle on their own, outside of his presence.
The provisions of the new Code may not be used to justify behaviour that constitutes serious ethical misconduct, made evident in this case by the mere reading of the transcripts and listening to the recording. Adjourning the hearing was not an appropriate solution to the parties’ refusal to lend themselves to a pointless encounter.
This conclusion warrants a sanction and, by analogy with s. 279 of the Courts of Justice Act (CQLR, c. T-16), dismissal being an overly severe measure, the majority of the Court confirms that the minority of the members of the inquiry committee were right in issuing Judge Bradley a reprimand. Hilton J.A., for his part, recommends that the Minister remove Judge Bradley from his office at the Court of Quebec.
In support of his application for judicial review, Judge Bradley attacks the validity of s. 269 of the Act to the extent that it allows for an inquiry committee to be composed of a majority of individuals who are not judges or who have not sworn an oath of office to recommend dismissal, and alleges a violation of procedural fairness because he never received prior notice that dismissal was a possibility. These arguments are rejected.
*Summary by SOQUIJ
Text of the decision:
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