N.W.T. judge investigated for 2nd misconduct complaint

The Yellowknife courthouse. Judge Donovan Molloy has a misconduct hearing scheduled for May, to look into a complaint filed against him in June 2021.  (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)
The Yellowknife courthouse. Judge Donovan Molloy has a misconduct hearing scheduled for May, to look into a complaint filed against him in June 2021. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)

An N.W.T. territorial judge is being investigated for a second misconduct complaint with "substantial overlap" of one already underway, according to documents filed by the federal public prosecution.

Details on the complaint were discussed on Monday at a preliminary motion for a hearing into the conduct of judge Donovan Molloy.

The first complaint, filed to the territory's Judicial Council for Territorial Judges by Martha Chertkow, a former Crown lawyer in the N.W.T., is what led to a hearing that is now scheduled for May 15 to 19.

The second complaint, filed by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) on May 10, 2022, is still being investigated to determine if it warrants any further action. No details about it are available as a result of the investigation.

A five-member subcommittee of the Judicial Council for Territorial Judges chaired by Justice Karan Shaner investigates written complaints against judges and has the ability to suspend a judge, or recommend to the territory's justice minister that a judge be removed from office.

Chertkow filed the original complaint in June 2021. She alleged that Molloy made personal attacks from the bench that at times left Crown lawyers in tears and in physical distress. Molloy is also accused of similar misconduct toward defendants.

Chertkow no longer practices in the territory. She currently works as legal counsel with the federal Justice Department.

The second complaint against Molloy was discussed at Monday's preliminary motion because the PPSC was requesting standing to be a party to the upcoming hearing.

According to the PPSC's application, a number of incidents described in Chertkow's complaint "may result in examination or deliberation of both the internal operations of the PPSC, and specific interactions between other PPSC prosecutors and Judge Molloy."

PPSC lawyer Chris Bernier argued at the preliminary motion that because it involved similar incidents and employees, the PPSC has an interest in participating.

The application was denied, though, as Shaner said the committee found there weren't grounds to support it as there are no plans to question PPSC employees at the hearing.

Incapable of participating

The scheduling of the upcoming hearing in May comes after Molloy applied to adjourn the proceedings indefinitely due to health concerns.

According to a transcript from committee meetings on Jan. 16 and 17, Molloy applied to adjourn the hearing indefinitely, as a doctor found he was incapable of participating "in the foreseeable future."

The committee ruled that there was not enough evidence to support an indefinite adjournment, including the fact there were no accommodations filed for a new date.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

"The jeopardy for Judge Molloy is significant, but fairness is not limited to just Judge Molloy. The process must be fair for the complainant, who has a legitimate interest in seeing her complaints addressed and resolved within a reasonable time," Shaner said, according to the transcript.

However, Shaner said the committee did not object to a short adjournment, and the hearing to be set for May.

CBC News contacted Molloy for comment on the decision, but he referred the question to his legal counsel, Robert Bradbury. CBC News contacted Bradbury by email, but didn't receive a response immediately.