Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown denies Arizona altercation allegations

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Russell Brown is speaking out about an alleged altercation in Arizona that triggered a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council.

Brown is denying details in a newspaper story published Thursday that reported allegations he "harassed" a group of friends during a Jan. 28 encounter at a Scottsdale resort.

The Vancouver Sun cites a police report in which the complainant, Jon Crump, accuses Brown of being intoxicated and "creeping out the group" before punching the justice twice in the face.

The newspaper also reported that Crump accused the judge of shoving him before he punched Brown and that the police report indicated "no crime was determined."

In a statement, Brown denies Crump's account and says he was invited to join the group before what he calls an unprovoked attack.

He says Crump, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, falsely accused him of instigating the encounter in an effort to avoid the consequences of the alleged assault.

Brown has been on leave from the court since Feb. 1 pending the outcome of the council's ongoing investigation.

"Outside the lounge, Mr. Crump objected to me rejoining the group and suddenly, without warning or provocation, punched me several times in the head. Taken by surprise, I was unable to defend myself," Brown said.

"The account Mr. Crump has provided to the press is demonstrably false. Approximately one hour after the assault, he called police and, in an apparent attempt to avoid facing the consequences of assaulting me, he falsely described me as the instigator."

Brown, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2015 by then-prime minister Stephen Harper, was taking part in an awards ceremony and banquet at the resort ahead of the encounter.

The Vancouver Sun reported the event was to honour former Supreme Court justice and human rights advocate Louise Arbour, who was receiving a prize from Arizona State University.

"This incident has caused me embarrassment and created complications for the court," Brown's statement says.

"I am hopeful that the council will resolve this matter expeditiously."

The local police public records office was not immediately available on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2023.

The Canadian Press