Two Quebec judges are suspended and under investigation after allegations surfaced from an cocaine dealer turned informant that they bought drugs from him before they were appointed to the bench.
The Canadian Judicial Council announced Tuesday it has launched a review of the conduct of Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Girouard while the Quebec Court announced Monday it has stopped giving new cases to Judge Marc E. Grimard until the conclusion of a police investigation.
The allegations against the judges, who both sit in the Abitibi region of northwestern Quebec, surfaced during Operation Crayfish which has included dozens of arrests and charges for growing marijuana, importing cocaine and murder.
Investigators seized nearly a million dollars in cash, 77 weapons and two aircraft during the initial bust in October, 2010, but new charges and arrests have trickled out steadily since.
Quebec Superior Court Chief Judge François Rolland asked the CJC to investigate Judge Girouard's conduct after Le Devoir reported last month that an informant had accused the judge of purchasing cocaine.
"The review concerns his conduct prior to his appointment to the Bench and includes an allegation that the judge would have participated in a transaction to purchase an illicit substance from a police informant. This is only an allegation: no facts have been established in this matter," Norman Sabourin, executive director and senior general counsel of the CJC said in a statement.
Élizabeth Corte, chief judge of the Quebec Court, said she takes the allegations against Judge Grimard "very seriously. According to the information brought to the court's attention, the allegations concern a period prior to Mr. Grimard's nomination as judge."
Neither judge has responded to the allegations.
Judge Grimard, who was named in 2004 by former Liberal Justice Minister Jacques Dupuis, was a provincial prosecutor prior to becoming a judge. He was also president of the local bar association in the late 1990s.
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson named Justice Girouard to the bench in 2010. He had worked for years in private practice, specializing in business, bank and insurance matters. Both judges received their legal training at the University of Sherbrooke.
While the bulk of the arrests in Operation Crayfish took place in 2010, it has made non-stop waves in the Abitibi region. The allegations against the judges surfaced about a month after police and prosecutors in the region revealed Michel Thibault, one of the local gang bosses, had turned informant.