Nova Scotia

Complaint against N.S. judge partly founded

The body that oversees federally appointed judges has "expressed its concerns" over the conduct of a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge.

The body that oversees federally appointed judges has "expressed its concerns" over the conduct of a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge.

A five-judge panel with the Canadian Judicial Council said that Ted Scanlan accompanied his then-girlfriend to lay a complaint about the woman's ex-husband before the RCMP on two occasions in 2007.

The panel says Scanlan's attendance at the meeting with Karen Quigley, who is now his wife, could be seen "as an attempt by a judge to use the prestige of judicial office to influence officials or seek a certain outcome."

The judicial panel sent a letter of concern to Scanlan and indicated that judges should generally avoid such situations.

The panel concluded the allegation of inappropriate conduct against Scanlan by the woman's ex-husband is "founded, in part," due to those incidents.

However, the panel also stated in a news release summarizing its decision that since the judge did not "wilfully try to influence the RCMP officers and did not act in bad faith," no formal reprimand is needed in the incident.

Scanlan was taken off the bench last year as the panel interviewed witnesses regarding the complaint by Quigley's former husband, Gary Willmore.

Scanlan will now return to the courtroom.

"Now that this is resolved, he [Scanlan] will be resuming all of his normal judicial functions very soon," said John Piccolo, the director of communications for the Nova Scotia judiciary.

Scanlan declined an interview.

Norman Sabourin, legal counsel with the judicial council, said that there were many allegations by Willmore concerning the judge's behaviour.

Sabourin said all allegations other than the visit to police were "unfounded."

The complaint was laid at the end of 2008 and the panel's decision was made last week.

"It's a long time for the council to complete a case. It's one of the very longest I'm aware of," he said.

"The delay has been primarily caused by the numerous allegations that were made.… Many of the allegations were 'he said and she said,' and there was a need to clarify with witnesses on what actually took place."

The judicial council doesn't publish its full decisions, but instead sends out a brief summary in the form of a news release.

The council's main role was to determine if Scanlan's conduct would mean he couldn't fulfil his duties, said Sabourin.

"This is a vote of confidence by the judge's peers in his ability to discharge his duties," Sabourin said.

"The panel has said, 'There's nothing here that leads us to the conclusion you should be removed from office.'"