A judicial hearing looking into alleged misconduct from a territorial court judge was derailed by the judge’s resignation.
Donovan Molloy, formerly a judge of the N.W.T. territorial court, is the subject of a 40-page complaint alleging a years-long pattern of “intimidating, insulting and belittling” behaviour that at times left Crown lawyers in tears and physical distress.
Molloy tendered his resignation yesterday, citing health issues that had previously delayed the hearing. Molloy has been on an indefinite leave of absence for the last 14-months.
Molloy’s resignation was accepted and was effective immediately. That means Molloy is no longer a territorial court judge.
Brock Martland, Molloy’s lawyer, and Simon Renouf, the lawyer for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, argued Monday the hearing would no longer be necessary.
According to the Territorial Court Act, the five-member panel overseeing the hearing could penalize Molloy with a warning, reprimand or removal if they found wrongdoing.
With Molloy’s resignation, Renouf said those penalty provisions become moot.
He said Molloy’s resignation is effectively a retirement and it’s extremely unlikely he would again become a sitting judge in the territorial court.
“He’s left an appointment which is difficult to achieve. There would not appear to be a path for him to reapply to be a territorial court judge,” Renouf said.
Martland likewise said it would be a strain on public resources to proceed with a multi-day hearing that he said would not serve the public interest.
He said Molloy now resides in Eastern Canada and would not be attending the hearing.
If it does proceed, he argued it would be a lopsided hearing without Molloy present, and would involve arguments from the complainant but no defence.
“That is not in the public interest,” he said, adding that it would be “unprincipled.”
Evan McIntyre, representing complainant Martha Chertkow, said the hearing should still go forward.
He said the “wounds” Molloy inflicted from the bench remain despite his resignation and that reprimanding him is important because of the public harm he caused to the territory.
McIntyre argued the Northwest Territories is a small jurisdiction and the public was aware of Molloy through news stories.
Without the hearing, he said, “the public will not have sufficient closure or comment on the bad nature of [Molloy’s] conduct.”
The panel asked the parties to provide written submissions by Sept. 1.
The panel, chaired by Justice Karan Shaner, will provide a written decision thereafter. It did not provide a date for when that decision would be made.
Shaner said this complaint is the first time this legislation has been used in the Northwest Territories.