Disciplinary hearing for Quebec court judge in hijab case delayed yet again

A Quebec Superior Court justice has ruled the disciplinary hearing of another judge who refused to hear the case of a woman wearing a hijab be suspended.

During a hearing in February 2015, Quebec court Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul she would not hear her case unless she removed her hijab.

El-Alloul was trying to get her car back after it had been impounded.

At the time, Marengo told El-Alloul the courtroom was a secular space and a hijab was inappropriate.

Steve Rukavina/CBC Montreal

Those remarks drew dozens of complaints to the Quebec Council of the Magistrature, the body responsible for disciplining judges in Quebec.

The council convened a disciplinary panel, but the hearing was delayed for years as Marengo challenged the council's authority to hear the complaints, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court announced last December it wouldn't hear the case, and the disciplinary hearing finally began earlier this month.

Another legal challenge from judge

But it was derailed almost immediately.

Marengo's lawyer, Raymond Doray, argued the lawyer representing the council at the hearing should recuse himself.

The role of that lawyer is to advise the panel of judges that hears the complaint and to question witnesses on the panel's behalf.

Doray argued that the council lawyer, Pierre Laurin, was biased because a report he prepared for the panel concluded Marengo had clearly violated several provisions of the code of conduct for judges.

The panel refused Doray's recusal request.

Doray is now challenging that decision in Quebec Superior Court.

Wednesday morning, Superior Court Justice France Dulude ruled that Marengo's disciplinary hearing should be suspended to allow Doray and lawyers from the council to present arguments regarding Laurin's alleged bias.

That means Marengo's disciplinary hearing is delayed yet again, likely for several months, until the Superior Court can hear the arguments and rule on the request.

El-Alloul is scheduled to be a witness at the disciplinary hearing.  She was present and ready to testify earlier this month when the began.