Hearing begins for Thunder Bay justice of the peace accused of misconduct linked to son's traffic stop
Anna Gibbon is accused of acting as an advocate for her son in 2019 Ontario Highway Traffic Act case
A hearing for a Thunder Bay justice of the peace accused of professional misconduct relating to a 2019 Ontario traffic stop of her son began Monday with counsel presenting opening arguments.
Anna Gibbon is accused of acting as an advocate for her son after he was charged with failure to yield under the Highway Traffic Act in February 2019. A former Aboriginal liaison with the City of Thunder Bay, Gibbon was appointed as a justice of the peace in 2013.
"This is not a case in which her worship's conduct in relation to any member of the public is at issue," presenting counsel Linda Rothstein said to the Justices of the Peace Review Panel.
"It is alleged that her worship's failures in these regards may harm the public's confidence in the judiciary."
Eugene Bhattacharya, representing Gibbon, said he's hopeful that, no matter the result of the hearing, "the fundamental principles of this process is restorative in nature."
"The goal is to make our judicial system better, to learn from mistakes, to become educated as to not repeating them, and to ensure that any justice of the peace or in fact, judicial officer in our country that goes through this process as an opportunity for a fair and full hearing, and at the end has an opportunity to learn and improve their work as a judicial officer based upon the fundamental principle of restoration."
Abuse of power alleged
According to a notice of hearing filed as an exhibit, Gibbon is alleged to have "demonstrated a continuing pattern of inappropriate conduct that undermined the independence, impartiality and integrity of her judicial office" with regards to her son's court case.
Documents show Gibbon allegedly acted as her son's legal representative by communicating with a conflict prosecutor and offered her "assessment of the merits of her son's case."
It's also alleged Gibbon "abused the power of judicial office by attempting to coerce [the conflict prosecutor] to withdraw the charges against her son out of fear or intimidation; and/or acted in a manner that gives rise to a perception that Her Worship may in future hold a bias against [the prosecutor] for her failure to withdraw the charge against her son."
A number of witnesses are expected to be called over the course of the hearing, which is being held virtually over the weeks of June 14-18 and July 5-9 (although the schedule is subject to change).
The panel will consider whether the alleged conduct occurred and whether it constituted judicial misconduct.
If the complaint is upheld, the panel has several options, including:
- Warning or reprimanding Gibbon.
- Ordering her to apologize or take other measures, such as receiving education.
- Suspending her with or without pay.
- Recommend that Gibbon be removed from office.