Friday, April 11, 2014

Judicial independence for justices of the peace

The Justices of the Peace Review Council in re EM released a decision this evening saying:

26. Judicial independence for justices of the peace was considered in the Supreme Court of Canada decision of Ell v. Alberta. Justice Major, writing for the Court, held that the principle of judicial independence applies to justices of the peace as it does to all other judicial officers (see para 17). The Court also provided historical context for judicial independence in para 21:
The historical rationale for independence was to ensure that judges, as the arbiters of disputes, are at complete liberty to decide individual cases on their merits without interference; see Beauregard, supra, at p. 69. The integrity of judicial decision-making depends on an adjudicative process that is untainted by outside pressures. This gives rise to the individual dimension of judicial independence, that is, [page 870] the need to ensure that a particular judge is free to decide upon a case without influence from others.
Justice Major, in para 29, summarized the reasons why judicial independence is an imperative:
Judicial independence serves not as an end in itself, but as a means to safeguard our constitutional order and to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice: see Provincial Court Judges Reference, supra, at para. 9. The principle exists for the benefit of the judged, not the judges. If the conditions of independence are not "interpreted in light of the public interests they were intended to serve, there is a danger that their application will wind up hurting rather than enhancing public confidence in the courts": see Mackin, supra, at para. 116, per Binnie J. in his dissent. (emphasis added)
Ell v. Alberta, 2003 SCC 35;[2003] S.C.J. No. 35; [2003] 1 S.C.R. 857

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