Justice

Dates set for complaint against NWT judge to be heard


A misconduct complaint against a Northwest Territories judge will be held in front of a five-person panel over up to five days in November.

A notice of hearing confirms Judge Donovan Molloy faces a judicial misconduct hearing following a complaint filed by a former Crown prosecutor. That complaint has been referred to the Judicial Council of Territorial Judges.

The CBC had previously reported a complaint alleging Molloy had directed “intimidating, insulting and belittling” behaviour at lawyers and defendants in court. Molloy has said the contents of the complaint are “unfounded and unproven.”

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Supreme Court Justice Karan Shaner will chair the panel, which also includes Justice Jack Watson of Alberta, Yellowknife lawyer Sheldon Toner, mediator and arbitrator Colin Baile, and former journalist and GNWT land claims negotiator Patrick Scott.

While the hearing is set for November 21-25 at Yellowknife’s Quality Inn, the notice does not expressly state proceedings will be open to the public – as Molloy has requested.

The judge, who is currently on extended leave, has called for a hearing to be public as the allegations have “already lowered my standing in the legal and larger communities” and “go beyond my judicial conduct to my very character and worth as a person.”

In a brief interview on Thursday, Molloy said: “I am very concerned that the notice was silent as to whether the hearings would be public. My demand for a hearing was premised on the condition that the proceedings be held in public and I would not have made that request otherwise, because it was to my prejudice.”

A request for comment sent to the judicial council was not answered.

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An NWT Department of Justice spokesperson said in June the request for a public hearing would “be considered by the council,” which must “determine whether the desirability of holding an open hearing is outweighed by the desirability of maintaining confidentiality.”

Molloy previously said a “hostile work environment” in judges’ chambers in Yellowknife meant the degradation of his mental health was not taken seriously.

More broadly, he says he has become increasingly concerned about the “overall administration of justice” in the NWT, alleging systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the territory’s courts.

Making a connection between his expression of that concern and November’s hearing, Molloy on Thursday took issue with the panel’s composition.

“Given the inter-related issues of systemic discrimination, I am disappointed at the apparent lack of Indigenous representation on the panel,” he said.

The judicial council investigates complaints about the incapacity or misconduct of judges appointed to the Territorial Court. A judge considered by the council to have committed misconduct may be warned, reprimanded or suspend. The council can also recommend to the minister of justice that a judge be removed from office.

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