Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Judge who quit Hells Angels case acted improperly

A Quebec Superior Court justice lacked concern "for the due administration of justice," but he should not be removed from the bench for quitting a high-profile biker trial last year, the Canadian Judicial Council said Friday.

A three-member panel of the council determined Mr. Justice Jean-Guy Boilard acted improperly when he cited an expression of disapproval from the council for an unrelated case as his reason for pulling out of the biker case.

Judge Boilard "acted with undue haste, guided more by his personal feelings than by an objective view of the situation," said the council's report.

Story continues below advertisement

The judge's conduct lacked concern "for the due administration of justice and the image of detachment and calm which the judiciary should project to the public."

Last year, Judge Boilard made headlines when he quit the trial of 17 bikers after the council issued a letter criticizing him for the way he had blasted a lawyer in court in another case for mediocre work.

In response, Judge Boilard announced he no longer had the moral authority to preside over the trial and withdrew from the case, which had been before a jury for four months. Another judge, Pierre Beliveau, replaced him but decided to abort the trial so it could start again with a fresh jury.

The judicial inquiry, the council's fifth in its 32-year history, was held at the request of Quebec's then-justice minister Paul Begin.

At a hearing held last spring, Reynald Langlois, an independent lawyer, argued nothing in Judge Boilard's conduct led him to believe he withdrew because of improper motive.

Jean-Yves Bernard, a lawyer representing the Quebec Attorney-General, argued Judge Boilard quit without a single lawyer at the trial asking him to do so and at great cost to the provincial government.

Judge Boilard's lawyer, Gerald Tremblay, said Judge Boilard only needed to be accountable to his conscience and the Appeal Court.

Story continues below advertisement

The panel concluded Judge Boilard misunderstood the meaning and scope of the initial criticism of his conduct.

"He should have taken time to reflect rather than immediately arriving at his decision," states the report.

However, the panel concluded that Judge Boilard's behaviour was "not so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of impartiality, integrity and independence of the judicial role" that public confidence in the justice system would be too undermined for him to stay on the bench.

Judge Boilard has been a supplementary judge since May 29 and has received fewer cases than other judges.

The three judges on the panel were Chief Justice John Richard of the Federal Court of Appeal, Quebec Chief Justice Michel Robert and Michael Cain, a lawyer appointed by the federal government.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨