Labrador judge accused of misconduct

Rosie Mullaley
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The provincial government has filed a formal complaint of misconduct against a provincial court judge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The Telegram has learned that the director of public prosecutions filed the document Wednesday against Judge John Joy.

The complaint objects to comments he made in a memo he sent to the Crown prosecutor’s office, the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission and a few private lawyers.

In the 21-page memo, Joy criticizes the Crown and Legal Aid for such things as not providing enough services and acting unethically. He also complained about Legal Aid lawyers failing to meet with clients and leaving them to wait too long to discuss their cases.

Chief Judge Mark Pike opted not to comment, since he is the chairman of the Judicial Complaints Review Committee, which will decide if punishment is warranted for Joy.

The complaint, filed under Section 22 of the Provincial Court Act, has been forwarded to the director of court services, Shelly Organ, who in turn, forwards it to the Complaints Review Committee, which will first decide whether there is enough grounds to proceed to a hearing. Besides Pike, the committee is comprised of Newfoundland Supreme Court Justice Alphonsus Faour, alternate Justice Gillian Butler and former St. John’s deputy mayor Shannie Duff representing the public.

Pike said the committee is guided by the Judicial Code of Ethics. While he would not comment on this case, he said punishment for violating the code could range from a warning, to a suspension to a permanent loss of position. He said he will review it as soon as he can.

Joy is one of two judges in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Judge William English is the other.

Joy has been known in the past to be outspoken about various legal issues. In 2007, when a 14-year-old boy was held in a Labrador adult lockup for more than a week without adequate access to showers or visits with his parents, Joy reportedly described the social services system’s response as “pathetic.”

Before being appointed to the bench in 2006 — when Premier Tom Marshall was the Justice minister and Attorney General — Joy worked for several years as a lawyer in St. John’s. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2004 and was a partner with the White, Ottenheimer and Baker firm.

Joy, who was called to the bar in 1978, was also the honorary counsel for Iceland in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Judicial Complaints Review Committee

Geographic location: Labrador, Happy Valley, Goose Bay Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Why??
    March 27, 2014 - 10:29

    Misconduct??? for complaining about faults in the system?? How many times do we see complaints about decisions by the courts and nothing gets done to the judge. Now we get a judge that complains and he is accused of misconduct. If this gets investigated like Mt Cashel, how many judges will have a lapse in memory.

  • Adam
    March 27, 2014 - 09:35

    Judge Joy 'tells it like it is' and, consequently, his letter has snowballed all out proportion in the wrong direction.. To those he sent the letter to, instead of focusing to correct the problems he brought up for mostly the good of the public, they are more intent on what punishment HE should receive. Our wonderful Justice System!

  • Lee Gality
    March 27, 2014 - 08:27

    It seems to me that the judge is speaking his conscience on what appears to be breaches of fundamental justice and the Charter. Many of his criticisms could support complaints to the Law Society if victims were aware of their rights. No doubt under funding and over work contribute to the problem. Unnecessary adjournments etc. are the unnecessary emergency room visits of the justice system--symptoms of bigger problems. Stay out of trouble, eat your vegetables and save your money: Equality before the law? Universality? Myths.

  • cat
    March 27, 2014 - 07:50

    WTG Judge Joy, speak up and speak out. If I was going before any judge I would want it to be you. You see firsthand what's going on in the "SYSTEM'' and you are not afraid to say it. We need more like you but as in most cases people might agree with you but they won't speak out for fear of losing the "paycheck". Thank You !!!!!