November 26, 2012
Judge reprimanded for tossing cases
By Maryam Shah, QMI Agency
TORONTO - A Newmarket, Ont., judge was handed a reprimand and a warning for judicial misconduct after dismissing cases because a Crown attorney showed up late to court.
Justice Howard Chisvin was the subject of three complaints when he dismissed 33 charges in July 2011 after a Crown attorney turned up late by one minute and 27 seconds.
An Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last March that his conduct was illegal and an abuse of authority.
The court overturned his dismissals, which included cases involving a violent schizophrenic, a disbarred lawyer and a robbery suspect.
At an arbitration hearing Monday, a panel of two judges, a lawyer and a member of the public heard submissions from presenting counsel Marie Henein and Chisvin's lawyer, Brian Greenspan.
"It needs to be sanctioned in a way that allows the public to know that they should maintain confidence in the justice system," Henein said.
She said Chisvin's actions imposed "uncertainty and stresses" on those involved with the dismissed cases.
Possible penalties included termination, reprimands, warnings, suspension with pay, or an order to apologize, which Greenspan said Chisvin has already done.
"This is not simply a good judge who had a bad day," Greenspan said. "This is quite an exceptional judge who had a very bad day."
He added Chisvin also sought professional counselling.
Chisvin "recognized that he had made a significant error" and reported to a senior judge, according to an agreed statement of facts. He took a two-week leave of absence "to address various personal stresses."
In his submissions, Greenspan read excerpts from testimonials from judges and lawyers, who described him as "diligent," "unscrupulously honest" and "hardworking."
Chisvin also spoke Monday, apologizing for his behaviour.
"My only wish is to rededicate myself to the administration of justice," he said.
-- With files from Sam Pazzano