Human rights lawyer files malpractice complaint against lawyers representing seven churches battling public health orders after one admits hiring a private investigator to follow a Manitoba judge presiding over the case .
John Carpay, the head of the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms – which launched the legal challenge on behalf of the group of churches and individuals – admitted in court Monday that his organization had hired the private investigator to follow the judge Chief of the Court of Queen’s Bench Glenn Joyal.
Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman told CBC News he filed a complaint with the bars of Manitoba and Alberta the same day.
“This is probably the most egregious case of malpractice that I have heard of in some time,” he said.
“I certainly hope that the Law Society of Manitoba and Alberta will sanction in the strongest terms possible to make it clear that it is totally and totally unacceptable for a member of the Bar to engage in this kind of conduct.”
Joyal said in court that he realized he was being followed by a vehicle on July 8 as he left the Manitoba courthouse in downtown Winnipeg and drove through the city.
The private investigator even followed him to his private residence and asked a young boy to ring his doorbell when he was not at home to try to confirm where he lives. The private investigator also followed him to his chalet, Joyal said.
Carpay said in a statement that the decision aimed to hold officials to account and was on its own initiative. He said he had not discussed it with clients of the Justice Center, staff lawyers or members of the board of directors.
He apologized to Joyal, calling it a mistake in judgment. He says no other judge was followed.
Carpay did not identify the private investigator.
The chief justice said that “it is significantly okay” that Carpay has accepted responsibility for his actions and said the situation will not affect his ability to bring an independent, fair and objective resolution to the trial.
Warman says it’s more than just an error in judgment.
“It’s a shocking attempt to intimidate, I think, a member of the justice system. I think it’s a criminal offense and should be investigated as such.”
A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service confirmed it was investigating the case, but said he could not comment further.
Legal experts are shocked by Carpay’s decision.
“It seems to me that this is obviously a huge, huge lack of judgment on the part of the legal team involved, and it’s truly unprecedented for me,” said Eric Adams, vice -Dean of Law at the University of Alberta. and a specialist in constitutional law.
“It takes your breath away, the state of mind that an individual would go into to take this course of action. I mean, for what purpose would this information be gathered except a bad one? It’s hard to imagine. “
Winnipeg criminal defense attorney Joshua Rogala says this scenario is like an accused hiring a private investigator to track jurors who decide their case.
“It is a very serious allegation to interfere with participants in the justice system because it goes to the very foundation of our justice system,” he said.
“The justice system cannot function properly if the participants within it are fearful.”
A private investigator who was not involved in the follow-up to the chief justice said there could also be professional implications for the private investigator, as they allegedly used a minor child to obtain information on where Joyal was alive.
“To become a private investigator you need to be 18 and you also need to be licensed, so you can’t let a young child conduct your investigations into the privacy of a judge’s home on your behalf. not legal, ”said Janie Duncan, president of Duncan Investigations in Manitoba.
The justice system cannot function properly if participants are fearful.– Joshua Rogala, Winnipeg Criminal Defense Lawyer
She believes this is a blatant violation of the law on private investigators and security guards..
Duncan doesn’t think the private investigator should have taken the job.
“The safety and security of judges and their privacy are paramount, especially given the cases and decisions they make on a daily basis and I don’t think it was reasonable to follow it.”
Now that a malpractice complaint has been filed, Adams says the law society must decide to see if there has, in fact, been a breach of professional code.
In the event of a breach, they must decide on an appropriate sanction.
It will be difficult to decide because it is such a rare situation.
“The ultimate sanction in these kinds of matters is deregistration, where someone has their legal license taken away, but I don’t think so. [that] is going to be on the table here, ”Adams said.
“What exactly is the proportionate sanction for someone who engages in this kind of conduct? Again, I don’t think there is a clear roadmap for what this could be.”
Leah Kosokowsky, CEO of the Law Society of Manitoba, said in an email that the cases disclosed to the court on Monday raise “serious concerns” because the professional code of conduct prohibits a lawyer from trying to influence a court decision or any other court other than as an open lawyer.
“The Law Society would be very concerned if it were discovered that a lawyer tried to unduly influence the cause of justice by hiring a private investigator to follow the judge presiding over the case,” she wrote in the ‘E-mail.
Warman hopes to see strong repercussions.
“Any lawyer involved in this case should face the harshest possible penalties, up to and including deregistration. It is simply not being done.”