Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dr. Denis Rancourt files application to the Supreme Court of Canada for his right to an impartial court

An Ontario superior court judge had strong personal, family, emotional, and contractual financial ties to a party intervening for the plaintiff in [the] case, and also to the law firm representing the party in court, and did not disclose any of these ties. This party was also the employer of the plaintiff in the lawsuit, and funded the plaintiff’s litigation. The judge was tasked with determining the propriety of the party’s funding of the plaintiff, which was done with public money. The judge’s ties made it inconceivable that he would rule against the party. When the defendant discovered the judge’s ties and presented the evidence, the judge lost decorum, threatened the defendant with contempt of court, and recused himself, but refused to consider whether there was an appearance of bias, and continued to release decisions. The judge’s in-court reaction and walkout further confirmed his ties with the party in the lawsuit. The defendant raised the matter with six more judges, up to the court of appeal [for Ontario], but all of them refused to duly consider and properly apply the facts. As a result, all the decisions of the judge in the lawsuit stand to this day, even the decisions he released after recusing himself.

--Summary, Memorandum of Argument, Application Book, page-34

Denis Rancourt has filed and served an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, for leave to appeal from the dismissal of his appeal at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, appealing from the lower court dismissal of his champerty motion to end the defamation action funded by the University of Ottawa with public money.

The full application book (with arguments and evidence), dated January 6, 2014, is posted HERE, and alternatively HERE.

The whole matter is very disturbing. The judge recused himself for real bias moving forward, while refusing to make a judicial determination of an apparent bias that would have negated all his past decisions, then continued releasing findings from the bench and written decisions after the events said to have caused his real bias. And seven judges have refused to make a proper consideration on merits of the complaint.

Rancourt is arguing that the Supreme Court of Canada has a Charter obligation to grant leave to appeal:

Thus, in the facts of this case, the applicant’s right to an impartial court has been infringed or denied in the courts below, such that s. 24 of the Charter can be satisfied, in application and principle, solely if the [Supreme] Court grants the instant leave to appeal. Without the Court’s intervention and express directives, the infringement or denial of the applicant’s right to an impartial court will stand without ever having been properly heard on merits, and the right to judicial impartiality will continue to be denied in Canada’s lower courts, by the same means as in the present case, and in other ways.

--Paragraph 41, Memorandum of Argument, Application Book, page-48

The Executive Director of the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) has provided an affidavit in support of the application: See Application Book, starting at page-290.

OCLA also heads a campaign against the public funding of the defamation lawsuit, entitled: "Public Money is Not for Silencing Critics: University of Ottawa must end its financing of a private defamation lawsuit".

If an egregious and documented case of apparent bias of a judge cannot be properly heard on merits in any court, then there is something wrong in Canada. It would mean that we do not have the legal system that many imagine and hope that we have. 

Given the egregious and factual nature of this case, it would mean that circumventing complaints of judicial bias is a systemic problem in Canadian courts: If there is even only one Mack Truck in the living room then this necessarily implies that there is an entrance to the living room large enough to accommodate the truck's drive-in.

Court documents in the action and its appeals are HERE.


Steve C. said...

I hope you're successful. The dignity of our courts depends upon it.

Morag Lorigan said...

It is so refreshing to hear a professor who is unafraid to tell the truth. "The truth will set you free" and you are free indeed. Well done!!!