Judge who dismissed cases because lawyer was late to face disciplinary panel
Published Thursday, October 18, 2012 3:50PM EDT
TORONTO -- An Ontario judge who threw out several court cases because he got tired of waiting for a prosecutor to show up has been ordered to appear before a disciplinary panel.
The Ontario Judicial Council says the hearing scheduled for Nov. 26 will address three complaints filed against Justice Howard Chisvin for judicial misconduct.
On July 21, 2011, Chisvin dismissed at least 33 criminal charges against 10 people in a Newmarket court north of Toronto, who were up before him in court to enter pleas or be sentenced.
Chisvin made the call after proceedings resumed following a 20-minute break and finding that the Crown attorney was not present.
He sent word to the prosecutor that if he did not show up within a minute, all remaining cases waiting to be heard that day would be dismissed.
When the Crown did not arrive two minutes later, the trial judge threw out all the cases for want of prosecution.
After eight minutes, the lawyer returned, apologized and explained that he was late because he was reading a pre-sentencing report.
Last March, a three-justice panel with the Ontario Court of Appeal called Chisvin's actions "illegal" and "an abuse of judicial authority."
The panel also said Chisvin had no power to make the order.
"The trial judge's actions were high-handed and did a real disservice to the proper administration of justice," said the appeal court decision.
The cases being heard by Chisvin that day included an accused who had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of uttering a threat, possession of stolen property and breach of probation and was awaiting sentencing.
The disciplinary panel will be chaired by an appeal judge and include a judge, a lawyer and a community member.
If Chisvin is found guilty, he could face a variety of penalties including being given a warning, ordered to take educational classes, apologize to the complainants or be suspended with or without pay.