Regina Judge faces judicial review for visiting protest he previously ruled on
REGINA -- A Regina judge will be reviewed by his peers for visiting a protest camp earlier this year.
Justice Graeme Mitchell ruled against the Government of Saskatchewan in September, after it sought to have a suicide prevention advocate and his tipi removed from Wascana Park.
Mitchell provided his ruling on Sept. 11, and visited Tristen Durocher’s protest site on Sept. 13. Mitchell said in his ruling that Durocher’s right to protest was protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Now, The Canadian Judicial Council says a panel will look into these action.
“Under council’s bylaws, a Judicial Conduct Review Panel may be established when it is determined that a complaint might be serious enough to warrant the removal of the judge,” a release from the council said Tuesday.
The council referred to “complaints” in its release, but did not say who filed them.
At the time, Durocher said: “To the politicians who are going to scream bias, bias, bias — because a judge who signed his decision wanted to see the freedom of expression and freedom of religion that his profession is supposed to be fighting and rooting for — by all means go ahead, because you just look that much more ridiculous.”
The judicial council is treating the matter seriously and has the power to recommend discipline, including dismissal as a judge.
Margherita Vittorelli with Saskatchewan’s Justice Ministry said she couldn’t determine if the complaints had come from government.
“We cannot confirm if any member of government submitted a complaint in an official capacity,” she wrote in an email. “Any member of the public can make a complaint about a judge’s conduct.”
The council says Mitchell is to face a five-member panel, which will include one member of the public.
Mitchell was named a Queen’s Bench judge in 2018. A former vice-chair of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board, he spent more than a decade as Crown counsel and then as director of the constitutional law branch of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice.
He has taught constitutional law and has appeared before the Supreme Court more than 40 times.
With files form The Canadian Press’ Bob Weber.