Judge The best-known reported case of Judge’ Boilard’s conduct is within the Supreme Court of Canada case Doré v the Barreau du Quebec, 2012 SCC 12.

Earning close to $2000 a year and benefiting from phenomenal working conditions as a superior-level judge, Boileu still managed to bring a "temper", for want of a better word, into court with him.

In June 2001, a Québec lawyer Gilles Doré appeared before him seeking relief for a client on a criminal matter. According to the transcript, Boileau actually said in the direction of Doré during the course of the latter's closing submissions:

”An insolent lawyer is rarely of use to his client”

Boileau had previously abused his position in a 2001 decision in which he disparaged Doré on the record.1

Later Doré must of just about fallen off his chair when receiving the written decision, Boileau had referred to Doré’s...:

“… bombastic rhetoric and hyperbole" and that the court must “put aside (disregard?) Mr Doré’s impudence."

The judge Boileau then went on to characterize the relief Doré had ben seeking for his cliient as:

“...totally ridiculous and specifically his arguments(were) idle quiibbling.”

Pompous ass on the bench or not, when these situations occur to lawyers, the lawyer is between a rock and a hard place.

A complaint to the Canadian judicial Council means referring the judges conduct to his own peers for review. The judge who is the subject of the complaint may retaliate by making a complaint to the lawyer’s law society. When a law society receives a complaint from a sitting judge, they pay attention. All of this takes energy and time from the lawyer and keeps the lawyer from income, an active law practice without the ongoing financial benefits that the judge receives from the Crown.

Doré chose a novel approach he wrote a private and confidential letter to the judge. Unfortunately for him, he mailed it.

The letter, as two wrongs don't make a right, which, crossed the line. Pompous ass or not, In it, Doré referred to Boileau as follows:

I have just left the Court. Just a few minutes ago, as you hid behind your status like a coward, you made comments about me that were both unjust and unjustified, scattering them here and there in a decision the good faith of which will most likely be argued before our Court of Appeal.

                            Because you ducked out quickly and refused to hear me, I have chosen to write a letter as an entirely personal response to the equally personal remarks you permitted yourself to make about me. This letter, therefore, is from man to man and is outside the ambit of my profession and your functions.

                            If no one has ever told you the following, then it is high time someone did. Your chronic inability to master any social skills (to use an expression in English, that language you love so much), which has caused you to become pedantic, aggressive and petty in your daily life, makes no difference to me; after all, it seems to suit you well.

                            Your deliberate expression of these character traits while exercising your judicial functions, however, and your having made them your trademark concern me a great deal, and I feel that it is appropriate to tell you.

                            Your legal knowledge, which appears to have earned the approval of a certain number of your colleagues, is far from sufficient to make you the person you could or should be professionally. Your determination to obliterate any humanity from your judicial position, your essentially non-existent listening skills, and your propensity to use your court — where you lack the courage to hear opinions contrary to your own — to launch ugly, vulgar, and mean personal attacks not only confirms that you are as loathsome as suspected, but also casts shame on you as a judge, that most extraordinarily important function that was entrusted to you.

                            I would have very much liked to say this to your face, but I highly doubt that, given your arrogance, you are able to face your detractors without hiding behind your judicial position. Worst of all, you possess the most appalling of all defects for a man in your position: You are fundamentally unjust.

The lawyer then sent a copy of the letter to the Chief Justice of Québec who then copied it to the disciplinary office of the Québec law society (Barrreau du Quebec). Doré then filed a formal complaint the Canadian judicial Council (CJC).

The CJC gave judge Boileau a slap on the wrist. It acknowledged his “impatience” and that as judge, he tended:

“... to use your platform to unjustly denigrate counsel appearing before you, concluding that he had shown a flagrant lack of respect for an officer of the court … And tarnished your image as a dispenser of justice (and) undermine the judiciary…. Gratuitously insulting counsel is befitting neither for the judge nor for the judiciary."

Though here there was an arguable case for a recommendation to remove this individual from the bench, that was it as far as the Canadian judicial Council went: a letter on file was all Boileau got as reprimand.

Doré, though, was suspended by the law society from the practice of law for 21 days.

The morals of this story all stink; lawyers who are insulted the courtroom have to grin and bear it; there is no reliable relief. Any private attempt made by the lawyer to communicate with an overbearing judge directly may bring upon the lawyer the disciplinary powers of his or her very own law society. One great big lose-lose-lose for the lawyer.

Other than the lack of any real  consequence for Boileau, this story had another sad ending.

The Montreal newspaper La Presse, reported in 2011, that Doré sent another critical personal letter to another judge, Justice James Brunton.

Then, in November 2011, Gilles Doré was the victim of a horrific drive-by beating. Then 58 years old, he was found in at 7 a.m. just outside his small Outremont office severely beaten with a baseball bat. At the time, he had been working on the defence of a challenging client, the Hells Angels.

REFERENCES AND CITATIONS

  • Doré v Barreau du Québec, 2012 SSCC 12 {available on the Internet on 2014-10-08 at www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2012/2012scc12/2012scc12.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQALMjAxMiBzY2MgMTIAAAAAAQ}
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  • NOTE 1 : R v Lanthier,  2001, Canlii 9351 {available on the Internet on 2014-10-08 at http://www.canlii.org/fr/qc/qccs/doc/2001/2001canlii9351/2001canlii9351.html}