Aficionados of kooky courtroom drama may have to wait a long, long time for the return of Justice Dianne Nicholas.
The loopy Ontario Court judge, readers will recall, is awaiting a disciplinary hearing date on allegations of judicial misconduct for allegedly shit-talking two fellow judges on Facebook.
The postings, rubbishing decisions by Justices Heather Perkins-McVey and Lise Maissoneuve (now Ontario Court Associate Chief Justice), were made on a Crown legalist’s Facebook page in October 2012.
Nicholas went on stress leave soon afterwards, collecting her $268,242 pay-and-benefits package for sitting at home. Worse, her indisposition has necessitated bringing in retired judges from Ottawa and Toronto at $1,000 a day each to cover her caseload.
Judge Dianne has since gone on long-term disability leave, but courthouse gossips suggest the real reason she’s not working is that no senior regional or administrative judge province-wide wants the erratic bovariste on the bench in their jurisdiction.
So now the Ottawa courthouse is a judge short, but can’t replace Nicholas, as its grinding backlog grows by the day.
The Ontario Judicial Council is expected to set a hearing date for Nicholas on May 9. The fearsome Marie Henein (Henein Hutchison LLP) is prosecuting.
What did Dianne say? Perkins McVey got the worst of it, with Vic Toews-esque accusations that she’s soft on crime and much-sought by defence lawyers. Judge Heather reportedly considered suing her learned colleague for defamation before deciding to go to the Judicial Council instead.
In her Facebook diatribe, Nicholas, after bitching about a sweetheart deal Perkins McVey had in her opinion given a drunk driver, turned her keen judicial mind to another case:
“Of course this is two weeks after she gave a woman who had defrauded many clients of over a million dollars, but gave her a conditional sentence because [she had] cancer.
“Wait for it, thyroid cancer hardly a killer. You either get radiation or they take out your thyroid. And then you take a pill forever.
“It’s the same f—ing cancer that Perkins McVey has herself!”
Even with her legalist helpfully instructing her to stifle it, poor Dianne couldn’t resist shooting that capacious mouth off when the Ottawa Petfinder recently called her about her difficulties. Instead of “no comment,” she rambled: “Trust me, I would love to [comment], but I cannot. I wish this wasn’t happening, but I just can’t.”
Meanwhile, in the absence of fresh judicial hilarity from Nicholas, her admirers are reduced to rehashing her greatest hits, like her examination of a studly boat accident victim, whose impressive physique had been marred by extensive scarring.
Nicholas had him remove his shirt in the courtroom so she could have a look. After a thorough appraisal, Judge Dianne asked if there were any more injuries. He replied, yes, on my buttocks.
After an uncomfortably lengthy silence from the bench, the witness said, “I’d rather not.”
Buzzkill. Judges just wanna have fun.