For several years a number of judges in Minnesota took unpaid leaves of absence and served as judges in war torn Kosovo. Australia has a more formalized sabbatical program for judges but do any of these raise ethical questions? Perhaps. The Lawyers daily reports:
Can a judge be kicked off the federal bench for engaging in unpaid activity during a pre-approved leave of absence — activity for which he sought, and received, prior approval from his chief justice and from the federal Justice minister?
The Canadian Judicial Council’s (CJC) 20-year-old advisory Ethical Principles for Judges doesn’t expressly or clearly answer that question but, at least according to Quebec Superior Court senior Associate Chief Justice Robert Pidgeon, the answer is “yes.”
As a result, the associate chief justice, who is the CJC’s vice-chair of judicial conduct, recently referred to an internal review panel of the council the question whether Ontario Superior Court Justice Patrick Smith’s unpaid three-month stint this summer as the interim law dean (academic) at Lakehead University, while he was on an approved six-month leave of absence from the bench, amounts to judicial misconduct sufficient to destroy public confidence in his ability to remain a judge.
Both the leave of absence, and its purpose, were pre-approved by his chief justice, Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith, and unofficially by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.
However, barely halfway through his leave of absence, the 68-year-old supernumerary judge abruptly resigned as interim law dean, and returned to his judicial duties, after he learned from the CJC that the reason the judicial council initiated proceedings against him, at its own behest, was because it considered that he had stepped into media attention — and legal and public controversy — by agreeing to temporarily take on the deanship as the fledgling law school sought a replacement for its ex-dean, Angelique EagleWoman, who had told media she quit due to her experience of racial discrimination from the university’s administration.” For the full story see: https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/7436/judge-seeks-to-quash-cjc-s-discipline-proceedings-for-his-volunteer-work-approved-by-chief-justice-.