Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown alleges physical attack behind absence from top court
Brown issued rare public statement to challenge complainant's version of events published in Vancouver Sun
Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown has issued a statement regarding his absence from the top court after a physical altercation that allegedly took place at an Arizona resort in January.
Brown's statement comes just a few days after the Canadian Judicial Council said it is "reviewing a complaint into the alleged conduct" of Brown, who has been on leave from the top court since Feb. 1.
According to the council, a complaint against Brown was made on Jan. 29 and was referred to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia Christopher Hinkson, chairperson of the council's Judicial Conduct Committee.
"On the evening of January 28, 2023, I was in Arizona to participate in an awards banquet at a local resort. Following the event, I joined other attendees at the resort lounge. In the course of the evening, a group at a nearby table invited me to join them," Brown said in the statement.
Brown said that while he was chatting with the group, a man identified by him as Mr. Crump joined the group but did not speak to Brown.
"We all left the lounge at roughly the same time. Outside the lounge, Mr. Crump objected to me rejoining the group and suddenly, without warning or provocation, punched me several times in the head. Taken by surprise, I was unable to defend myself," Brown said.
Brown said he felt compelled to issue the statement after the complainant told the Vancouver Sun that Brown had "harassed my friends (and) spoke about how important he was."
Brown said Mr. Crump's version of events is false. He said he did not instigate the event and has provided "evidence" to the council that will verify his version of events.
"This incident has caused me embarrassment and created complications for the Court. I am hopeful that the Council will resolve this matter expeditiously," Brown said in the statement.
Brown's absence first noticed last month
CBC News reached out to the council to ask for a copy of the allegation against Brown but was told by Johanna Laporte, the council's director of communications, that there would be no further comment 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."
Brown was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on Aug. 31, 2015, after serving as a judge for two and a half 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.