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The Applicant, a Justice of the Peace, unsuccessfully sought judicial review of a decision from the Respondent, Justices of the Peace Review Council. The Council found her guilty of judicial misconduct and recommended that she be removed from judicial office

June 20, 2023

Administrative law – Decisions reviewed – Justices of the Peace Review Council – Jurisdiction – Professions – Judges – Judicial misconduct – Judicial review – Procedural requirements and fairness – Standard of review – Reasonableness – Practice – Adjournment

Ballam v. Justices of the Peace Review Council, [2023] O.J. No. 1785, 2023 ONSC 2502, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, April 25, 2023, E.M. Stewart, D.F. Baltman and R.A. Lococo JJ.

The Applicant, Dianne Ballam, was a Justice of the Peace (JP).  She was 66 years old and was appointed as a JP in 2002.  In 2014 she suffered a head injury in a motor vehicle accident.  She went on long-term disability (LTD) in 2015.

In 2018 – 2019, while the Applicant was still on LTD, and without having a license to practice law, she appeared in three different proceedings.  First, she appeared in court on behalf of an accused in a criminal matter on three occasions.  Second, she appeared in court and sought an adjournment of a motion for one of the parties.  She identified herself as a JP on LTD, but she appeared in the same region where she was a JP.  Third, she attended a Human Rights Tribunal hearing as a support person for a party, but failed to disclose she was a JP.

The Applicant was the subject of a complaint made to the Respondent, Justices of the Peace Review Council (the “Council”).  The Council referred the matter for a hearing to determine whether the Applicant was guilty of judicial misconduct.  The hearing panel concluded that the Applicant committed judicial misconduct regarding all three incidents.  The hearing panel recommended that she be removed from judicial office.

The Applicant sought judicial review by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.  The Applicant argued the hearing panel breached its duty of procedural fairness because it did not offer or grant a further adjournment to her.  The Applicant also agued the hearing panel’s decision on penalty was unreasonable.

The Court considered the two grounds for review.

The Applicant sought and obtained two adjournments of the scheduled hearing dates based on medical evidence and retaining new counsel.  Then, a few months later, she appeared at the third hearing date without counsel and she did not request a further adjournment.  The Applicant argued the hearing panel ought to have inquired about why she was self-represented and whether a further adjournment was required.  The Court rejected this argument.  The Court concluded the hearing was procedurally fair.

The Applicant argued the hearing panel failed to consider whether her conduct was connected to her medical condition.  The Court found there was insufficient medical evidence to indicate her conduct was a significant factor in her behaviour.  Also, the Applicant’s advocacy during the misconduct and penalty hearings was lucid and relevant.  The Court concluded the penalty was not unreasonable.

The Court dismissed the application and ordered the Applicant to pay costs of $7,500.

This case was digested by Scott J. Marcinkow, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter.  If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Scott Marcinkow at [email protected].

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Important Notice: The information contained in this Article is intended for general information purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It is not intended as legal advice from Harper Grey LLP or the individual author(s), nor intended as a substitute for legal advice on any specific subject matter. Detailed legal counsel should be sought prior to undertaking any legal matter. The information contained in this Article is current to the last update and may change. Last Update: June 20, 2023.

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