What…?! Appearances, you say?

Michel Girouard is a judge with the Quebec Superior Court.  He was suspended with pay in 2013 pending a review by three of his peers for allegations that he bought cocaine.  The three have since determined that there was not enough evidence to charge him so they haven’t. They also concluded that Justice Girouard was not a credible witness when testifying on his own behalf.  They said, “If Justice Girouard were to continue as a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec, this would, in our opinion, undermine public confidence in the entire judicial system.”

Several points need to be made here.  One; the alleged offences happened over 25 years ago during the period 1987 – 1991. Two; he was not charged.  So, on the face of it, he should go about his business.

But, when questioned by his peers, he was judged ‘not credible’.  In effect, three of his peers judged him as evasive and not telling the truth.  That might still leave him uncharged and unconvicted but it should at least mean that he is guilty of a level of contempt.  And, as we all know, contempt of court is worse than murder.

Still, it was NOT a court, it was just an investigation.  No proof.  No charges.  No conviction.  Maybe he should be allowed to go about his business?

Or should he?  Don’t forget – there is a basic tenet in law that ‘not only must justice be done, it must be SEEN to be done.  And quickly!  Time is of the essence.  In other words, appearance of process must be as impeccable as process.

Frankly, I do not think there has been the proper standard of appearances in this matter but who the hell am I?  Let us move on to the real issue…

Mr. Girouard has been suspended with pay since January 2013.  I am guessing that his salary is in the neighbourhood of $200K a year but I do not know (I just checked.  I was wrong.  I do not know Marcel’s salary but the average is $350,000 plus a helluva lot of benefits).  I just know that the system does not skimp on paying tax dollars to high ranking civil servants and judges are pretty high up.  So, Mr. Girouard has been paid $1,000,000 (give or take) to sit on his butt.

Compare that to an ordinary person charged with a crime or ‘being investigated’.   DO NOT compare to a senator like Duffy.

And therein lies the issue that concerns me: Canadian justice is slow.  Too slow.  Slower than glaciers (OK, that is partly due to global warming but it is still SLOW).  So the ‘appearance’ of justice in this case is made worse by the time it is taking to essentially do more ‘nothing’.  NOT only is it slow but it is very expensive.  We, the taxpayers are paying for the lethargy of the system and, in this case, that lethargy is actually BENEFITING the accused.  How long does it take for three ‘peers’ to determine if there is enough evidence to make a charge stick?  NOT three years!!!

Mr. Girouard is happy to let the process drag on.  Why not?  He is getting paid.  The peers are happy to go slow.  Why not?  They are getting paid, too.

That it took them 25 years to even allege wrongdoing is stupid enough but that it took three years for three judges to ‘think about’ whether there is a case to be had….that’s ludicrous.

Even stupider?   Their conclusion was tabled to the Federal minister in November.

“The minister thanks the Canadian Judicial Council for their work and she will be reviewing their report,” said Michael Davis, a spokesman for the minister.  

My advice to Girouard: “Book a slow cruise around the world, Marcel.  They won’t be doing much on this.  Not any time soon, anyway!”

9 thoughts on “What…?! Appearances, you say?

  1. Ahhhhh yes.
    The Canadian “justice” system.
    I used to love watching former BC attorney general Wally Oppal sputtering in outraged indignation when a news reporter dared to question a Judges ruling.
    ( i believe the case in point was a northern BC judge who proclaimed while reading the sentence of a convicted pedophile in a sexual assault case of a minor that the MINOR was “promiscuous and alluring”……..).
    The pedophile was sentenced to time served,…. probation, …..slap on the wrist…

    Yep.
    Occasionally we hear of a lawyer “fighting the good fight” for someone wrongly convicted by tainted evidence, police subterfuge and witness perjury.
    Unfortunately, “judging” by cases such as Donald Marshall rotting in prison for over 20 years before being freed ….and then suing for millions because the police needed a scapegoat and he was unlucky enough to be “the guy” that they picked to take the fall….
    No one in the justice system pays for that with their jobs or their freedom.

    The Canadian justice system grinds slowly along creating work for innumerable lawyers, Crown Prosecutors, judges, police, whatever.
    Yep a self sustaining system that adhors change and is powerful enough to ignore the very politicians that appoint them.
    Fewer and fewer people respect the police, the Courts and the system that appoints them.

    The Court system, like the political system…..needs a massive enema.

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    • Judging is more difficult than it seems. I know. As an arbitrator, I was constantly faced with unclear testimony, ethereal evidence and inapplicable laws, rules and regulations. It’s a really tough job. But it is not made easier by wasting time. It is not made easier by plodding procedure and rambling blather. In fact, that nonsense only serves the mandarins of paperwork. It ain’t easy but expense and foofaraw doesn’t make it easier…just more expensive and prone to abuse.
      And those three years not only paid Marcel $600K, it paid the three ‘peers’ as well. A massive and constant enema…for a decade….maybe.

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  2. During rush hour I watched a driver avoid a line up in a congested left turn lane. At said intersection he went right turned left over a traffic median clearly posted no U turn and jumped past the congestion. In the rear wind of his truck was a sign stating, “No rules!” Currently Canadians are under the thrall of the ‘disrupters.” For them life presents a series of rules and regulations that they want to disregard. This empirious attitude has led the disrupters to mock and flear relentlessly. Carring passengers for hire with the proper insurance. Making up ones rules of the road without regard for others. Onipiciencently gauging the guilt or innocence in an uniformed way. Personal beliefs and opinions trump all. We see such attitudes at play in all levels of society. World wide Canada is valued for its civility.
    This valued civility is under attack.

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    • Well, I cannot honestly extend my observation of the two-tiered entitlement theory as manifested by the judge into the sovereign citizen mantra for anarchy although the temptation is there. I do not believe rules should always be obeyed. 3:00 in the am and I am stopped at an intersection with no traffic, I go through the red. There are times. Rules ain’t God. But I think there are two points here. One is rebellion of the anarchist kind, the other is privilege of the ludicrous kind.

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      • I agree with you comments about the extremes of the continuum. The scofflaws that I refer to knowing act in ways that challenge the tenants of civil society. You have written about Jian’s being found innocent but guilty in the court of “We believe survivors.” A Prime Minister expecting to be able to appoint an unqualified person to be a judge and challenging the court in the press. I agree that waiting for a red light at three AM is inane but I have watched folks boarding a ferry running a red light in an effort to get on a
        full ferry. It is the selective picking and choosing what to obey and what disregard. Obviously the rule of law does not mean that sometimes the law Might be an ass. The law is an ass from time to time but that does not mean that the unqualified can decide guilt or innocence based upon one’s personal take of the evidence.

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      • Agreed. The unqualified should not put their hand to anything because, well, they are unqualified. I, on the other hand, am qualified to judge traffic at 3:00 in the morning. Not much more, I grant you that, but I will judge correctly in such circumstances. Nor do I support the vigilantes who are motivated by gender politics and such things though they would argue that ‘they are qualified’. Bottom line: the law is an ass all the time. But process isn’t. Evidence and testimony and cross examination are as good as it is gonna get. Give process a chance. But, be quick about it! Why? Justice served OLD is NOT justice.

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      • Senator Mike Duffy convicted in the words of Mr Haper, judged in the press as guilty and exonerated in in the courts. Let’s hear from the pundits of precipitous rash judgements who will say Duffy is a criminal in their opinion.

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      • Well, I might be one of them…………..NOT because I thought he broke the rules that did not exist, not because he was a piggy partisan and politicking for the Cons all the live long day, not because it was clearly a blatant lie regarding his residency but simply because this is a man of publicly funded privilege in a land of Attawapiskat. This guy exemplified the elitist mindset at it’s ugliest. This is a man living large who was a National broadcaster (presumably an political neutral). Criminal? No! Unethical? In the extreme. Jail…no. A year volunteering at Attawapiskat? Not long enough. And Pam and Stephen should join him. This is NOT about law. Some things are. Some things are not. This is NOT. This is about the ‘ethics’ and morality of our elected officials. BIG difference.

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      • I agree with you that it was an egregious case of amnesia concerning ethics. It was completely tone deaf regarding the capacity of Canadians to swallow the standard swill peddled about following as best as possible the unclear senate rules. The criminal prosecution of Duffy was about attempting to indemnify the PMO during the election and to allow a Bart Simpson moment with PMO saying, “We did nothing more than pay Duffy’s demand for a bribe.” All a fabrication to protect Harper and Canadians did not buy it except for the Cons. Evidenced by a big slime trail!

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