Judicial Council says it's reviewing complaint against Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown

The Canadian Judicial Council says it is reviewing an allegation of misconduct made against Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown, who is currently on leave from the top court.

Brown has been on a leave of absence from the top court since the beginning of February

A photograph of Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown
Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown has been on leave from the Supreme Court of Canada since Feb. 1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Judicial Council says it is "reviewing a complaint into the alleged conduct" of Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown, who is currently on leave from the top court.

According to the council, the complaint against Brown was received on Jan. 29 and referred to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia Christopher Hinkson, chairperson of the council's Judicial Conduct Committee.

Late last month, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court said Brown has been on leave since February 1 for what it described as a confidential matter.

"Unfortunately, at this time we cannot disclose why Justice Brown is currently on leave, to respect confidentiality," Supreme Court spokesperson Stéphanie Bachand said at the time. "There has been no statement by the court for this same reason."

In announcing the review, the Judicial Council said that it too will not "comment further on the matter at this time."

Brown's absence from the bench was first noticed in early February when Law360 Canada, an online legal news service, asked the top court why Brown was not included in a recent 8-0 judgment on the appeal of Colin McGregor, who was convicted of sexual assault.

The court mentioned Brown's absence in a single line in that judgment: "Brown J. did not participate in the final disposition of the judgment."

The Canadian Judicial Council was created in 1971, under the chairmanship of the the chief justice of the Supreme Court, to carry out investigations into improper conduct and maintain the standards of the profession.

In a statement, the council said it decided to launch the probe after questions were raised about the court's ability to function without Brown.

Bachand said last week that the Supreme Court can sit with between five to nine judges under the Supreme Court Act.

"The chief justice has made all necessary arrangements for the court to continue its work in Justice Brown's absence, including hearing all appeals, rendering judgment on the appeals currently under reserve, and deciding applications for leave to appeal," she said.

Brown was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on Aug. 31, 2015, after serving as a judge for 2½ years in Alberta, first on the Court of Queen's Bench and then on the Court of Appeal.

Prior to becoming a judge, he was the chair of the Health Law Institute and the University Appeals Board and chair of the Professional Review Board at the University of Alberta.


Peter Zimonjic

Senior writer

Peter Zimonjic is a senior writer for CBC News. He has worked as a reporter and columnist in London, England, for the Daily Mail, Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph and in Canada for Sun Media and the Ottawa Citizen. He is the author of Into The Darkness: An Account of 7/7, published by Random House.