N.W.T. territorial court judge announces indefinite leave of absence

·2 min read
Judge Donovan Molloy said Friday he would be stepping away from the bench and that it could be the last time he sits as a territorial court judge in the Northwest Territories.  (Submitted photo - image credit)
Judge Donovan Molloy said Friday he would be stepping away from the bench and that it could be the last time he sits as a territorial court judge in the Northwest Territories. (Submitted photo - image credit)

On Friday morning Judge Donovan Molloy said he would be stepping away from the bench and that it could be the last time he sits as a territorial court judge in this jurisdiction.

The CBC was not present for Molloy's announcement. This story is based on the account of a lawyer who was in the courtroom, who declined to be named in this story. It also closely matches the account of a reporter for Cabin Radio who was present at the time.

The lawyer said Molloy cited mental health concerns as a key factor.

Molloy apparently spoke about being ostracized at the office and in the judges' chambers.

He told the court that being a judge in a small community could be lonely at the best of times but that those feelings are only made worse by being cut off by colleagues.

Molloy said his experience was one of workplace harassment.

The judge told the court that he tried to address his concerns with the minister of Justice, but that the deputy minister declined to pass on his request for a meeting.

CBC is told that Molloy made a remark along the lines of: who is the deputy minister to refuse a judge a meeting with the minister?

CBC News has requested a response from the Department of Justice on those events.

Molloy told the court he made the announcement because this absence will mark his second period of absence within a year, following a leave last summer. Molloy said that he owed the public and the lawyers an explanation.

Asked for a copy of the written statement Molloy read from in the courtroom, Molloy declined, saying he veered too much from the statement for it to be an accurate record.

Contentious history

Molloy has in the past been critical about lawyers' conduct. He has also been outspoken on joint sentences that he sees as unfit — a judge is bound to accept a joint sentence unless it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute or be contrary to public interest.

In November 2020, Molloy dismissed 53 charges against 14 people when a Crown prosecutor missed her flight to attend court in Hay River.

The prosecutor made arrangements to appear by phone instead, but was told that Molloy had refused her request.

The Crown's office appealed that decision, and some of those dismissals were later overturned by a panel of judges.

Earlier this month, Molloy found an offender in Behchokǫ̀ not guilty of a charge due to a lack of evidence presented by the Crown prosecutor, which he characterized as a "shameful effort" of "negligent prosecution" on behalf of the Crown prosecutor.

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