The Canadian Judicial Council has recommended that an Ontario Superior Court judge be removed from office.

By CBC News
Mar 31, 2009

The council had been asked by former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant to review the conduct of Justice Paul Cosgrove after he was accused of inappropriate behaviour during a 1999 murder trial.

The trial had stemmed from the 1995 killing of a man from eastern Ontario.

Julia Elliott was accused of killing and dismembering Lawrence Foster and then dumping his body into the Rideau River near Kemptville, Ont.

Following an investigation into the judge's conduct, it was alleged that during the trial Cosgrove had inappropriately aligned himself with defence lawyers and had allowed witnesses to be verbally abused.

Cosgrove stayed the charges against Elliott, but his ruling was overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2003.

In a retrial, Elliott pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter.

Five judges reviewed the case in September.

In a media release posted on the judicial council's website, the council said its inquiry found Cosgrove, a cabinet minister under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, had engaged in misconduct during the trial.

"We find that Justice Cosgrove has failed in the execution of the duties of his judicial office and that public confidence in his ability to discharge those duties in future has been irrevocably lost," the inquiry report said.

Cosgrove has apologized for his conduct during the trial.

His lawyer, Chris Palaire, had previously said the apology was an "admission of judicial misconduct," but that it didn't mean Cosgrove couldn't remain on the bench since he had admitted to only some mistakes.

The council has presented its report to Minister of Justice Robert Nicholson with the recommendation that Cosgrove be removed.

That recommendation will now go to Parliament for approval. If Parliament goes along with the council, Cosgrove would become the first judge to be removed from the bench in Canadian history.