Panel recommends that judicial council remove Quebec judge from the bench

Panel recommends that judicial council remove Quebec judge from the bench

OTTAWA — An expert panel that looked into the conduct of a Quebec Superior Court justice is recommending he be removed from the bench.

Michel Girouard, a former lawyer, was appointed to the bench in September 2010 after practising law for a quarter-century in the Abitibi region in northwestern Quebec.

But allegations he bought drugs from a police informant when he was still a lawyer resulted in former chief justice Francois Rolland asking the council to look into the matter in 2012.

In a decision today, a three-member inquiry committee ruled 2-to-1 in favour of Girouard’s removal after hearing evidence in May.

It wasn’t the drug allegations — which the judges felt couldn’t be substantiated — that resulted in the ruling, but rather contradictory testimony given during the hearings they interpreted as an attempt to mislead them.

Two panel members have concluded the contradictions are enough to warrant removal, while a third does not believe he should lose his job.

The panel was also concerned with Girouard’s lawyers suggesting police may have interfered in the case as retaliation.

The findings have been submitted to the Canadian Judicial Council, which will relay its recommendation on the matter to the federal justice minister.

Girouard will have an opportunity to make a final submission before then.

The Canadian Press

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