May 26th, 2024

Top court won’t review case sparked by justice of the peace’s critique of bail system

By The Canadian Press on May 9, 2024.

The Supreme Court of Canada will not review a ruling that allowed a justice of the peace to remain on the bench after she wrote a column critical of the bail system and the conduct of some Crown prosecutors. The Supreme Court of Canada building is pictured in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada will not review a ruling that allowed a justice of the peace to remain on the bench after she wrote a column critical of the bail system and the conduct of some Crown prosecutors.

A hearing panel established by the Justices of the Peace Review Council recommended Julie Lauzon be removed from her position after the National Post column prompted complaints from several senior Crown attorneys.

The panel concluded that Lauzon showed “a reasonable apprehension of bias, if not actual bias” against Crown prosecutors.

Lauzon challenged the decision in court, arguing the panel was not sufficiently respectful of her Charter-protected right of freedom of expression as an independent judicial officer.

She was initially unsuccessful, but the Ontario Court of Appeal pointed to errors in the proceedings and downgraded Lauzon’s punishment to a reprimand and 30-day suspension without pay.

The appeal court found Lauzon was deeply committed to improvement of the justice system, and that her removal from office would be grossly disproportionate to the nature, extent and seriousness of her misconduct.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024.

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