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Judicial council won’t pursue complaints against judge who resigned

The proceedings against former NWT territorial court judge Donovan Molloy are over, as a five-person panel has ruled that the judicial council “does not have jurisdiction to hear, or continue to hear, complaints about former territorial court judges.”
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“We conclude the judicial council does not have jurisdiction to continue hearing the complaint against (former judge Donovan) Molloy,” a panel of judicial council members and judges has determined. The Canadian Press/Emily Blake file photo

The proceedings against former NWT territorial court judge Donovan Molloy are over, as a five-person panel has ruled that the judicial council “does not have jurisdiction to hear, or continue to hear, complaints about former territorial court judges.”

The panel was composed of judicial council members and territorial court judges, including Karan Shaner, Jack Watson, Sheldon Toner, Colin Baile and Patrick Scott.

They revealed their decision on Nov. 3.

Molloy announced his resignation from his post as a territorial court judge on July 23. His resignation became official the following morning, when it was accepted by the commissioner in executive council.

At the time he vacated the position, Molloy was the subject of complaints alleging 13 separate incidents spanning three years. Those incidents are outlined in a the panel’s reasons for decisions document.

In one instance, it is alleged that Molloy referred to an accused individual, who did not have legal representation in the courtroom, as “one of those morons,” and suggested that the man “get a lawyer and not an astrophysicist.”

In another episode, it’s alleged that that Molloy “improperly pressured Crown counsel to ignore guidelines issued by the director of public prosecutions.”

In a third, it’s alleged he “refused Crown counsel permission to appear in court by telephone, contrary to the Covid-19 practice directives” at the time.

In other incidents, it is alleged that Molloy was responsible for “demeaning treatment,” “inappropriate comments” and a threat to report Crown counsel to the law society.

The document contends that, in all 13 incidents, Molloy acted in a way that was “contrary to his commitment to perform his role in such a manner as to maintain the confidence of the public in the administration of justice.”

A hearing into the complaint against Molloy was slated to begin on July 24, the day his resignation became official. When he stepped down, it created two issues, according to the panel’s reasons for decision.

The first was whether the judicial council has jurisdiction to review the conduct of a former judge. If the answer to that question was yes, a second question would arise: whether the proceedings should be abandoned because the judicial council would not have any real options in terms of disciplining a former judge.

In the end, the panel found that the answer to the first question is no.

“We conclude the judicial council does not have jurisdiction to continue hearing the complaint against Molloy,” the reasons for decision explained. “In reaching this conclusion, we are mindful the complaint against Molloy has attracted significant publicity. Moreover, it has been a very long and difficult experience for all involved. The lack of a definitive resolution makes it even more so. Accordingly, we order the complaint proceedings against Donovan Molloy be discontinued.”

Since resigning, Molloy has left the NWT and now lives in eastern Canada.