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Judge Accused of Conflict of Interest Loses Decorum and Withdraws from Case

July 24, 2012

Judge donated money to party in lawsuit in honour of deceased son, who was a lawyer at the firm now representing the party.

A judge of the Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa threw a fit this morning and withdrew himself from a defamation case (St. Lewis vs. Rancourt) after the Defendant presented documents suggesting links between the judge and another party to the case.

The Defendant, Mr. Rancourt asked Justice Robert Beaudoin this morning to hear a motion that the judge recuse himself on grounds of “reasonable apprehension of bias” and “appearance of conflict of interest.” Mr. Rancourt presented an article by the Ottawa Citizen that described the judge’s efforts to memorialize his son, including a scholarship he donated to the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, which is a party in the proceeding (Intervener). The article also stated that a boardroom had been named after Justice Beaudoin’s son at the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais, where the son worked as a lawyer until his death, and which represented the University of Ottawa as a party before Justice Beaudoin.

After angrily yelling at Mr. Rancourt that his request for an adjournment in preparation for a motion was denied, Justice Beaudoin threatened to hold Mr. Rancourt in contempt of court.  The judge called a recess and then returned to inform the parties that he would be withdrawing himself from all further proceedings in the case, not before expressing that “never in his judicial career” had he seen actions so “disgusting and provocative” as the Defendant’s submission of the newspaper article, and telling the Defendant that “unfortunately” he had “succeeded” in having the judge removed from the case.

There is nothing worse that can happen to a parent than the grief of losing his own child, and Justice Beaudoin’s commitment to preserving the spirit of his son is honourable.  However, his comments in the courtroom and his failure to disclose his connections to the University of Ottawa and the lawfirm representing it, Borden Ladner Gervais, raise serious ethical concerns that should be reviewed by the Canadian Judicial Council.

*Update: July 27 Ottawa Citizen article about judge’s recusal.  Note that the Plaintiff’s lawyer, Richard Dearden, regularly represents the Ottawa Citizen.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2012 9:32 pm

    Holy shit! Justice is a slippery freaking thing when the privileged call all the shots. Admiration for DGR’s tenacity and refusal to get trampled. Bravo.

    • Wilfrid permalink
      July 25, 2012 8:54 pm

      Privileged? As opposed to a tenured professor, living in an ivory tower, that has never had to answer for his actions until recently? Give me a F…G break!!!

  2. watching permalink
    July 24, 2012 10:21 pm

    Will DGR post the court transcript?

  3. Gill permalink
    July 25, 2012 6:08 pm

    Conflict of interest in our Judiciary? Unheard of I tell you! How obvious can it be when 99% of family court judges rule in favour of private corporations such as CAS.

    • September 20, 2013 2:28 pm

      CAS is a private corporation? You are entirely misinformed, likely due to a personal experience so I won’t harp on the point, but Children’s Aid Societies are publicly funded bodies entrusted with ensuring the welfare of Canadian children and youth. Its true that many “rulings” end up favouring the CAS, but that is not because the courts are biased, but has more to do with the fact that if the CAS is taking a case all the way to trial, it is because nothing else has worked. Trial is a last resort.

  4. Wilfrid permalink
    July 25, 2012 8:51 pm

    Justice Beaudoin said it so well, that there is nothing really to add. The actions of Mr. Rancourt were disgusting, provocative, insulting and show a level of insensitivity that is hard to imagine. And your actions in reprinting his actions, in print, show the same, Mr. Hickey.

  5. July 25, 2012 9:45 pm

    Hear Hear to a review. This guy has a long and distinguished history of screwing over adversaries of his friends and should not be allowed to practice law. I have personally experienced his bias as have others…its about time.

    funny how transcripts go missing.

  6. Gill permalink
    July 26, 2012 11:58 am

    The reasons why some believe this article to be “disgusting, provocative, insulting and showing a level of insensitivity that is hard to imagine” are easily understood by most. Unfortunately there are those imaginations that are limited. Freedom of expression is being criticised because it is being used to inform the public of the shortcomings in our judiciary. Mr. Hickey should be commended for his reporting. The courage to report such incidents may discourage other judges and authority figures from doing the same and may also get others to write such stories. There will always be those who want to limit information and criticise those who exercise their Freedom of Speech. That’s not hard to imagine.

Trackbacks

  1. University of Ottawa Engaged in SLAPP-Suit Against Former Professor: Donations Needed « Joanne St. Lewis vs. Denis Rancourt
  2. University of Ottawa Engaged in SLAPP-Suit Against Former Professor — Student Senators Speak Out | Brave New World
  3. University of Ottawa Engaged in SLAPP-Suit Against Former Professor – Student Senators Speak Out |  SHOAH

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