Judge wants system to hear his side of the story

A Labrador judge wants his own day in court after accusing his chief justice of trying to silence him.

According to St. John’s newspaper The Telegram, Provincial Court Justice William English has applied to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador for a declaration that Provincial Court Chief Justice Mark Pike infringed on his judicial independence and his Charter rights to free expression.

English ran into trouble with his judicial boss in August last year, after releasing eight accused without bail conditions, citing a lack of resources at the Happy Valley-Goose Bay court where he sits, according to The Telegram.

Pike responded with a CBC interview that was critical of English’s decision.

In his claim, English also accuses Pike of sending him an email that ordered him to “refrain from any comment from the bench or otherwise, in public or private, regarding the adequacy (or lack thereof) of judicial or court resources. This is the sole purview of the judicial and court administration,” according to a portion quoted by The Telegram.

English wants the Supreme Court to find that Pike’s order is of “no force or effect,” claiming the chief judge lacks the “statutory and inherent jurisdiction” to make it.

Pike followed up with another email to English, indicating that he had been referred to the provincial judicial council for possible disciplinary action over his bail decision, according to the claim.

English also wants the province to cover his legal costs associated with the dispute, and his claim urges the Supreme Court to appoint a retired judge to settle the matter after the justice minister denied him coverage, according to The Telegram.

English is due in court for a hearing on the application on Sept. 26 in St. John’s.

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