A former judge of the municipal court of Longueuil is severely blamed by the Conseil de la magistrature du Québec for having deliberately overbilled working hours and having acquitted in "42 seconds" a friend who had had a traffic violation.
• Read also: A judge would have overcharged 160 times
• To read also: Little slap on the wrist for whitewashing a friend
If he had still been in office, ex-judge Jean Herbert, who retired at the start of 2019, would have been dismissed, says a Council inquiry committee.
Rendered recently, the committee's decision uses harsh words to qualify the actions for which it is accused.
Thus, the magistrate has:
However, these findings will remain unaddressed.
"In the circumstances, the committee [of inquiry] must denounce the seriousness of the actions taken, but, given the retirement of Mr. Herbert, resolves to recommend [...] to close these files", we write in the decision.
It should be recalled that the investigation by the Conseil de la magistrature essentially stems from the revelations in 2019 of our Bureau of Inquiry into the actions of Judge Herbert.
The Minister of Justice at the time, Sonia Lebel, took up the case to bring one of the three complaints against the former magistrate.
The Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC) was also interested in the case of the magistrate, since it had carried out a search in June 2019 at the municipal court of Longueuil to obtain documents concerning the overbilling of working hours.
Joined on Monday, UPAC spokesperson Mathieu Galarneau refused to indicate where this investigation was at.
Remember that Judge Herbert is not the only magistrate to be the target of a disciplinary investigation for pronounced breaches.
Judge Gérard Dugré of the Superior Court of Quebec could lose his position after repeatedly uttering outrageous comments in the cases he presided over and repeatedly delaying his judgments.
A final decision by the Canadian Judicial Council should confirm his dismissal shortly.
Judge Denise Descôteaux, of the Court of Quebec in Val-d'Or, was the subject of two reprimands from the Quebec Judicial Council and could soon receive two more because of her behavior in court.
3 DEADLY FAILURES
► Judge Herbert asks a prosecutor to voluntarily delay the progress of a case so that he can overcharge hours. "Mr. Herbert's conduct is manifestly dishonest [...] He is using his status as a judge to influence the prosecutor's attorney to make a false request for a stay," wrote the investigation committee of the Conseil de la magistrature in its decision. .
► He overstated his hours of work 160 times between 2016 and 2019, which allowed him to overcharge his hours by an amount of almost $40,000. "To take voluntary and repeated actions in order to take advantage of the billing system of municipal judges by the session is unforgivable [...] Never could a reasonable and informed member [of the public] consider such actions acceptable or justifiable", writes -on in the decision.
► The magistrate favors a friend by acquitting her in 42 seconds of a ticket for having omitted a mandatory stop, in addition to having provided her with legal advice before her appearance. "It is clear that Mr. Herbert should not have heard the cause, because he could not act with impartiality and objectivity [...] Such behavior is likely to sow doubt among citizens and undermine the public confidence in judicial institutions,” we write.