www.manitobacourts.mb.ca

What to do if you have a complaint about a Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba

"Four things belong to a judge:
to hear courteously,
to answer wisely,
to consider soberly, and
to decide impartially."
-Socrates

 

Provincial Court judges hear thousands of cases every year. Judges play a crucial role in our justice system using their experience and the evidence presented to them to weigh complex cases and make decisions. Approximately 95 percent of the criminal cases in Manitoba are heard by Provincial Court Judges.

On occasion, you may have a problem with the conduct of a judge. If you are unhappy with a judge's conduct, you can launch a formal complaint under The Provincial Court Act. If you are unhappy with a judge's decision in court, you should consult with your lawyer to see what other legal options should be explored. 

Misconduct by a Provincial Court Judge would be conduct unbecoming a judge and/or neglect of duty. 

Incapacity would be the inability of a judge to perform his or her duties as a result of a physical or mental disorder.

Please note that this information applies to Provincial Court Judges only. If you have a complaint involving another court, please contact the Canadian Judicial Council in Ottawa.

You must make your complaint of misconduct by a judge or incapacity of a judge in writing. Include the date, time and place of the court hearing and as much detail as possible. If your complaint involves an incident outside the courtroom, please provide as much information as possible about the situation. 

Your complaint will be reviewed by the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court who will notify the judge affected. The Chief Judge may follow one of these options:

  • decide there is no basis for the complaint;
  • resolve the complaint if you and the judge agree to a solution;
  • advise that your complaint should be dealt with in another way; or
  • refer your complaint to the Judicial Inquiry Board for further investigation.

The Judicial Inquiry Board is made up of a lawyer, a judge from the Court of Queen's Bench and a person who is not a lawyer or a judge. 

You have 30 days to take your complaint to the Judicial Inquiry Board if you disagree with the Chief Judge's decision that there is no basis for a complaint or that the complaint should be dealt with in another way. You also have 30 days to go to the Board if you have no response within 60 days of the Chief Judge receiving your complaint.

The Board will consider the complaint and may do its own investigation. The Board may decide to:

  • resolve the complaint if you and the judge are in agreement;
  • decide that no further action should be taken; or
  • bring a charge of misconduct or incapacity against the judge before the Judicial Council.

Any Board decision is final and cannot be appealed.

If the Board lays a charge against a judge, it is brought before the Manitoba Judicial Council. The six-member Council is made up of three judges from Western Canadian Provincial/Territorial Courts outside of Manitoba, the president of the Law Society of Manitoba, or his or her designate, and two people who are not lawyers or judges. Usually the Council will hold a public hearing to hear the complaint. 

If the Council finds there has been misconduct or incapacity on the part of a judge, it may:

  • warn the judge;
  • issue a reprimand;
  • order the judge to make an apology;
  • order the judge to take specific treatment or education;
  • suspend the judge with or without pay;
  • recommend to the Minister of Justice that the judge be retired from office if the judge is found to be incapacitated;
  • recommend to the Minister that the judge be removed office;
  • dismiss the charge.

Even if the judge retires or resigns while the complaint is being handled, the Council may decide the proceedings can continue if it is in the public interest.

The judge or the Judicial Inquiry Board can appeal the Council's decision to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, but only on a point of law.

If your complaint is about the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court then the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench will receive and deal with your complaint. From there it will proceed through the same process outlined above.

If you need further information or assistance, please contact any court office in Manitoba or call (204)945-8043, or toll free 1-800-282-8069 (ext. 8043). 

Written complaints should be sent to:

Chief Judge
The Provincial Court of Manitoba 
408 York Avenue 
Winnipeg, MB R3C OP9

Information on this page last updated on March 12, 2014