Ontario Court Justice Howard Chisvin has apologized for his misconduct in dismissing a slew of cases in July 2011 over a prosecutor’s tardiness.
“I very much regret the events of that day,” said Chisvin, who added the events of that day have had a profound effect on his personal and professional life.
Chisvin admitted misconduct before the Ontario Judicial Council this morning at a hearing chaired by Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal and heard by fellow panel members Derry Millar, Ontario Court Justice Deborah Livingstone, and community member Anish Chopra. He has been in the hot seat for dismissing “for want of prosecution at least 33 criminal charges, involving 10 accused persons that were before” him on July 21, 2011. Chisvin became impatient after a Crown prosecutor was late in returning to court for the day’s proceedings.
His actions prompted a number of complaints, including from the Ministry of the Attorney General. But his defence lawyer, Brian Greenspan, noted Chisvin was under significant stress that day, the details of which were provided to counsel in a “confidential way” in order to protect his and his family’s privacy.
Greenspan noted Chisvin has since sought counseling and noted his client’s excellent reputation within the profession. “This was not simply a good judge who had a bad day,” said Greenspan, who added his client is “an exceptional judge” who “had a very bad day.”
As for the disposition, presenting counsel Marie Henein noted the panel’s options include a reprimand all the way to removal from office. But she called on the panel to consider a combination of options ranging from a reprimand to suspension with or without pay. For his part, Greenspan urged the panel to consider a reprimand and a warning about future conduct. The panel has now recessed to consider the submissions.
Update, 5 p.m.: This afternoon, the hearing reconvened for the panel's disposition. In a ruling delivered by Sharpe, the panel issued Chisvin a reprimand and a warning against future misconduct.