The Valdorian judge Denise Descôteaux was back before the Investigative Committee of the Judicial Council on Wednesday to respond to ethics complaints lodged by the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP).
The complaint retained concerned three incidents that occurred in court in 2017 and 2019, but one of the three complaints was immediately dismissed by the Investigation Committee, after listening to the tapes.
In other cases, Judge Descôteaux is criticized in particular for a tone that is sometimes intimidating, contemptuous and sarcastic towards certain prosecutors, in addition to showing impatience.
In 2019, Judge Descôteaux was irritated after learning of an agreement between the prosecution and the defense, which upset a day of trial scheduled before her. Lawyers had contacted another judge to hear guilty pleas for two defendants, before the trial before Judge Descôteaux could begin for a third.
During her exchanges with the prosecutors, she raised the tone a few times and lamented that they wanted to “manage his agenda”, which was in her eyes “inconceivable”. While acknowledging that her tone was inappropriate, Judge Descôteaux believes that she was right to be irritated when she arrived in court that morning, after learning by email of the solution proposed by prosecutors.
“I had the impression that we were wasting a whole day of court and that I had never been consulted,” she testified on Wednesday. It’s like I’ve been squeezed and I’ve never seen this before. There was a lack of courtesy in deciding for me. It was judge’s bypass and it was not done. “
In a second case from 2017, Judge Descôteaux grew impatient when prosecutors jointly proposed a non-drug condition for an accused who refused to undergo therapy. The judge did not accept this condition, which seemed doomed to failure and she made it clear to the DPCP prosecutor, with obvious impatience.
“Do you really think you’re going to convince me?” She told him in the court room. It’s been three times that you say it in a short time and I say it in French because I know very well that you understand French very well. OKAY? And despite that, do you think that at five to six in the evening I’m going to change my decision? “
In her testimony on Wednesday, Judge Descôteaux said she was somewhat surprised by this complaint against him.
“There was no meanness in my conversation with the DA,” she says. The tone was cordial and it went well. If I said these words, it was because I had explained my decision and they continued to plead the same common suggestion to me. But I do not see where I would have raised the tone. “
At the end of the day, the judge’s lawyer also called the defense lawyer Me Samuel Bérubé de Deus, who came to the defense of the judge.
“In the first case, the judge’s comments were direct, but the situation before her was unacceptable. She was clearly irritated, but not angry. In the second case, the tone and the remarks of the judge were not problematic or sarcastic, but the problem is perhaps in the way in which they were interpreted by my colleague ”, he summarized.
The Inquiry Committee hearings are scheduled to conclude Thursday with oral argument.