A Canadian Judicial Council inquiry panel says that a Quebec judge, who was “aggressive” and hostile toward lawyers and did not render timely decisions should be dismissed from office.
The committee started looking into Justice Gerard Dugre’s conduct at the court.
Its 285-page decision says he committed acts that constitute “serious judicial misconduct,” undermining public confidence to the point where he cannot sit as a judge.
He is condescending, mean and has “a chronic inability to render judgements within a reasonable period of time”, according to the report.
Dugre threatened to send a father to prison for not disclosing documents. He said that the court had separate cells with starving rats and cells for women in custody cases.
The recommendation will now go before 17 members of the Canadian Judicial Council, who will make a further recommendation to the federal justice minister about whether Dugre will keep his job.
The committee held 38 days of hearings from April to December last year, with more than 60 witnesses appearing.
Dugre’s clerk testified for him and said that the judge used humor and anecdotes in order to make people feel comfortable. This was his distinctive style. Others testified that he was kind, compassionate and an excellent conciliator.
The committee observed that three of his rulings were upheld and reviewed by the Supreme Court of Canada, and that his competence was not in question.
However, the committee found that 60% of his decisions were made more than six months after they had been taken under advisement. Dugre claimed that he was right, even though he wasn’t assigned any more assignments in September 2019,.
Dugre recommended that the ex-spouses reconcile, place their child for adoption, or foster him. They were trying to decide if their son should change schools.
The committee concluded that, while these remarks should not be taken as gospel truths, “a rational and well-informed individual could view this form of bullying”, and declared his behavior to constitute judicial misconduct.
” To be precise, Justice Dugre’s comments and the tone that he used during the hearing were not funny. His tone was often harsh and aggressive from beginning to end,” the ruling stated.
Another complaint was Dugre’s inappropriate and demeaning remarks in court. He also repeatedly interrupted lawyers, created chaos by interfering with proceedings and “opined” on things such as transgender people, Montreal Canadiens, and a suit against Just for Laughs.
By Sarah Ritchie