The Hon. Deborah K. Smith, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, in her capacity as Acting Chair of the Nova Scotia Judicial Council, will empanel a Review Committee to investigate concerns raised about Provincial Court Judge Alain Bégin.
The Nova Scotia Judicial Council is the provincial body responsible for reviewing complaints involving provincially appointed judges in this province. Its membership, powers, and the stages of the review process are outlined in the Provincial Court Act.
This matter was referred to the Judicial Council earlier this week by The Hon. Perry Borden, Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia, as per the powers available to him in the Provincial Court Act:
Powers of Chief Judge without complaint
17D (2) The Chief Judge of the Provincial Court may, at any time, without a complaint having been made, review any matter respecting the conduct or fitness for office of a judge of the Provincial Court and may refer the matter in writing to the Chair of the Judicial Council.
The referral was based upon concerns raised in a recent Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision. In accordance with the Provincial Court Act, the referral was received by The Hon. Michael J. Wood, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia and Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, who has recused himself as Chair.
Under the legislation, when the Chair of the Judicial Council is unable to carry out their duties, the Chief Justice or Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia can replace them for such period as is necessary.
As per Sec. 17E of the Act, Chief Justice Smith is required to empanel a Review Committee when a referral is made under Sec. 17D.
The Review Committee will consist of a Provincial Court judge, a lawyer, and a public representative, all selected by Chief Justice Smith from names put forward by the Nova Scotia Provincial Judges’ Association, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, and Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Brad Johns, respectively.
Once the representatives are in place, the Review Committee will carry out its investigation and report back to the Acting Chair.
More information on the Nova Scotia Judicial Council and the judicial complaint process for Provincial Court judges are available online here.