Judge Molloy insists complaints against him be argued in public
Controversial jurist Donovan Molloy wants the Judicial Council for Territorial Court Judges to hold public hearings into all complaints lodged against him.
Molloy is finalizing a complaint of his own to the NWT Human Rights Commission. He has said the “hostile work environment” in judges’ chambers in Yellowknife meant his obvious mental health degradation was not taken seriously.
Currently on extended leave, Molloy said he was outraged when a copy of a complaint made to the Judicial Council against him was leaked to the CBC in April. The broadcaster reported details of “alleged misconduct in the courtroom” from the 40-page complaint, which has not been seen by Cabin Radio.
Shortly after leaving the bench in dramatic fashion on April 29 to go on stress leave – in open court, Molloy levelled a blistering rebuke of the NWT’s justice system – he suffered his second heart attack since coming to the NWT in 2019.
While in hospital, he vowed to “reveal the skeletons of several of the more prominent hypocrites dragging down the administration of justice in the NWT,” and questioned the ethics of whoever leaked the “unfounded and unproven repulsive comments in the complaint document” against him.
In asking the Judicial Council to open his hearing to the public, Molloy stated public confidence in the administration of justice has been negatively impacted by the leaking of the complaint.
“The leaking of the document has negatively impacted public confidence in the administration of justice,” he stated. “Members of the public do not understand the significance of modifiers like ‘unfounded.’”
Molloy said the Judicial Council initially agreed to his request but has since stated it needs to consider the request further.
After this article was first published, a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed Molloy’s request “will be considered by the council,” which must “determine whether the desirability of holding an open hearing is outweighed by the desirability of maintaining confidentiality.”
The Judicial Council for Territorial Court Judges investigates complaints about the incapacity or misconduct of judges appointed to the Territorial Court. It may warn, reprimand, or suspend a judge, or recommend to the minister of justice that a judge be removed from office.
The council is composed of a judge of the Court of Appeal, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the Territorial Court chief judge, a member of the Law Society of the Northwest Territories, and two members of the public who haven’t practised law in Canada.
Louise Charbonneau retired from the Supreme Court late last month, leaving the position of chief justice vacant. Justice Karan Shaner is the acting chief justice in the interim.
In a recent public notice, the council stated hearing dates and identities of the members “and other details” will be made public in the coming weeks.
The complaint against Molloy, reportedly involving multiple court cases and lawyers, alleges personal attacks took place that “at times left Crown lawyers in tears and physical distress.”
A former Crown prosecutor is reportedly one of the complainants.
The allegations in the judicial complaint, Molloy wrote, “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.”
Molloy is a former senior justice official in Newfoundland and Labrador. He has been at odds with a territorial system he says has “an unacceptably high risk of wrongful convictions and other miscarriages of justice.”
He said several factors had affected his physical and mental health since he joined the court in 2019, and he had become increasingly concerned about systemic discrimination against the NWT’s Indigenous peoples.
Molloy said he sought a lawyer specializing in employment law last year to address his claims of workplace harassment but, before any work could be done, he “suffered a complete mental breakdown.”
He said there had been “bad feelings” between him and his colleagues and his judicial independence was being challenged by superiors.
After his heart attack, Molloy said he planned to “rest and recover fully for a few months” before fully engaging in the quest to clear his name.