Judicial Councils

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

Definition

In most jurisdictions a there is a judicial council with a mandate to review complaints against judges and to promote the quality of the judicial service.

Canadian Judicial Council

The Canadian Judicial Council (website https://www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca/english/about_en.asp) describes its role as follows:

“The Canadian Judicial Council is a federal body created under the Judges Act  with the mandate to promote efficiency, uniformity, and accountability, and to improve the quality of judicial service in the superior courts of Canada. 

“The Council is also mandated to review any complaint or allegation against a superior court judge or a prothonotary of the Federal Court.

“The Council is chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada, currently the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin.  There are 38 other Council members, who are the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada’s superior courts, the senior judges of the territorial courts, and the Chief Justice of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada.”

The Council’s procedures for the review of complaints or allegations about federally appointed judges are found at: https://www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca/cmslib/general/CJC-CCM-Procedures-2015.pdf.

Ontario Judicial Council

The Ontario Judicial Council (website http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/ojc/) describes its role as follows:

“The Ontario Judicial Council was established by the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, Ch. C.43 to investigate complaints made by the members of the public about conduct of provincially-appointed judges.
“In addition, it approves the continuing education plan for provincial judges. The Council has approved criteria for continuation in office and standards of conduct developed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice which are called the Principles of Judicial Office.

“The Ontario Judicial Council includes:

  • the Chief Justice of Ontario (or designate from the Court of Appeal)
  • the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice (or designate from the Ontario Court of Justice)
  • the Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice
  • a Regional Senior Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney General
  • two judges of the Ontario Court of Justice appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice
  • the Treasurer of The Law Society of Upper Canada or another bencher of the Law Society who is a lawyer, designated by the Treasurer
  • a lawyer who is not a bencher of The Law Society of Upper Canada, appointed by the Law Society
  • four persons, neither judges nor lawyers, who are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney General

“The judges appointed by the Chief Justice, the lawyer appointed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the community members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor hold office for four year terms and may not be re-appointed. In the appointment of these members to the Council, the importance of reflecting Ontario’s linguistic duality and the diversity of its population and ensuring overall gender balance on the Council is recognized.”

“How are Complaints Processed?

“… A two-member complaint subcommittee of the Council will investigate your complaint and gather whatever information it deems necessary to complete its investigation (for example, copies of the transcript of a trial). Each complaint subcommittee is made up of a judge and a community member of the Council. Section 51.4(6) of the Act provides that the investigation into a complaint shall be conducted in private.

“The subcommittee makes a report to a review panel of the Council consisting of four other members: two judges, a lawyer and a community member. Every complaint is considered by at least six members of the Council, including two community members.

“Section 51.4(18) of the Act provides that the Council may dismiss a complaint if there is no judicial misconduct, refer the complaint to the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice to speak to the judge about concerns raised in the complaint, or order that a formal, public hearing into the complaint.

“If a public hearing is held, and misconduct is found at the end of the hearing, the range of disciplinary measures that can be imposed extends from a warning to the judge about his or her conduct to a recommendation to the Attorney General of Ontario that he or she be removed from office.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Courts, Tribunals, and Commissions (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.

Sources

Canadian Judicial Council and Ontario Judicial Council websites noted above.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 16 November 2016.