Judicial Profiles: Lyse Lemieux, Chief Justice of Quebec Superior Court

Quebec judge quits
over drunk-driving charge

Globe and Mail Update
Published Thursday, Aug. 19, 2004 12:53PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Apr. 08, 2009 10:37PM EDT

Lyse Lemieux, the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec, said Thursday that she will retire as a result of a drunk-driving incident.

In a statement, Judge Lemieux, 68, describes the Aug. 5 incident as “extremely unfortunate.”

According to her statement, she hit city property and was charged with driving a motor vehicle with weakened faculties and with an alcohol rating over the legal limit.

She said that no one else was involved in the accident and that no one was injured.

“After sitting as a judge for twenty years and six months, including almost ten years in management positions,” she said, “I can say that I have been especially lucky and privileged to be part of such a noble and prestigious institution as the Superior Court. In addition, I am proud to have been the first woman to hold the position of Chief Justice.”

“However, all citizens are equal before the law and I am taking my responsibilities.”

She acknowledged having been stripped of her license for three months in 2001 after passing a school bus on her way to work.

She said she will leave on Sept. 30 in order to ensure that the court continues to be able to function.

Judge Lemieux was appointed Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec in August 1996 by then-prime Minister Jean Chrétien. She was the first woman to hold the top spot on the province’s senior trial court.

A member of the court since 1978, Judge Lemieux had been associate chief justice since 1994.

She replaced Lawrence Poitras, who retired as chief justice.


Quebec chief justice resigns
after drunk driving charge

CBC News Posted: Aug 19, 2004 12:12 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 19, 2004 4:34 PM ET

The chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court resigned on Thursday after being arrested in connection with a drunk driving incident two weeks ago.

Lyse Lemieux was arrested on Aug. 5 and charged after what she calls an “extremely unfortunate event.”

The 68-year-old said her vehicle struck an empty road grader parked on an expressway in Montreal. No one was injured and no one else was involved in the accident.

Police allege she was driving with a level of twice the legal limit of 0.08, said a Superior Court spokesperson.

Lemieux will make a Nov. 10 court appearance to face charges of driving a vehicle with weakened faculties and having an alcohol rating over the allowable limit.

In 2001, Lemieux had her driver’s licence suspended for three months when she passed a school bus.

In a statement, Lemieux said she is quitting to preserve the integrity of the court.

“All citizens are equal before the law and I am taking my responsibilities,” said Lemieux.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin praised Lemieux’s 20 years of public service.

“This must have been a very difficult decision…and I understand and respect the choice that she has made to leave at this juncture,” said McLachlin in a statement.

Appointed chief justice in 1996, Lemieux will leave her job on Sept. 30. It’s up to the federal cabinet to name a new chief justice.


Former Quebec chief judge fined,
loses licence

CBC News Posted: Nov 10, 2004 10:47 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 10, 2004 1:06 PM ET

The former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court was fined $600 and lost her driver’s licence for a year after pleading guilty to impaired driving.

Lyse Lemieux had been scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, but pleaded guilty last week instead. It’s not unusual for defendants to move up the date of their court appearances without notice when they decide they want to plead guilty.

In exchange for the guilty plea on a charge of impaired driving, prosecutors dropped a second charge of having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

Quebec Court Judge Serge Boisvert agreed to let Lemieux install an alcohol ignition interlock in her car, a device that prevents an intoxicated person from starting the vehicle. Under the terms of his order, this means she could be allowed to drive in three months.

Lemieux resigned in August two weeks after police stopped her while she drove home from a bridge game. She had spent 26 years on the bench.

She will, however, receive roughly $160,000 per year for the rest of her life, a federal government pension for retiring judges.


Former Quebec judge admits driving drunk

Tu Thanh Ha
MONTREAL — With a report from Canadian Press
Published Thursday, Nov. 11, 2004 12:00AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2009 1:34PM EDT

Lyse Lemieux, former head of Quebec’s highest trial court, has pleaded guilty to having a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit and lost her driver’s licence for a year.

However, Ms. Lemieux, 68, will be able to drive in three months, when she will be allowed to install a breath-analysis device linked to the ignition of her car.

The former Quebec Superior Court chief justice entered a plea and was sentenced without fanfare on Nov. 2. Her initial scheduled arraignment date was yesterday, and several news media representatives who showed up to cover the case discovered that it had happened eight days earlier.

Ms. Lemieux’s lawyer, François Daviault, said the prosecutor sought the change of date, and it was not an attempt to let Ms. Lemieux escape journalistic scrutiny.

“This had nothing to do with me. It was at the request of the Crown,” Mr. Daviault said in an interview. “There was no favouritism.”

Because the case involved a Montreal judge, the provincial Justice Department appointed an ad hoc prosecutor from outside the normal ranks of Crown attorneys.

The prosecutor was Quebec City private-practice lawyer François Huot.

Although he was a Crown prosecutor in Quebec City 10 years ago, he did not know Ms. Lemieux, he said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Huot said he sought a different date because he had other court engagements in Quebec City and could not be in Montreal for Ms. Lemieux’s Nov. 10 court appearance.

Ms. Lemieux was also charged with driving while impaired, but that charge was dropped after she entered a guilty plea for having a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. She registered twice the legal limit of .08.

Quebec Court Judge Serge Boisvert suspended her driver’s licence for a year and fined her $600.

At Mr. Daviault’s request, Judge Boisvert authorized Ms. Lemieux to return to driving in three months if the vehicle is equipped at her expense with a so-called alcohol ignition interlock device.

Ms. Lemieux stunned the judicial world in August when she announced she was stepping down after 26 years on the bench because of the drunk-driving incident.

Driving home from a bridge game at about 10 p.m. on Aug. 5, she struck a road-work device placed at the side of a highway. No one was injured.

Many in the legal community, from lawyers to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada, lamented the departure of the respected jurist.

Prime Minister Paul Martin’s cabinet authorized last month that Ms. Lemieux receive a full lifetime pension of $160,266 a year, retroactive to Oct. 1. She had been earning $240,000 a year. The criminal conviction does not affect her lifetime annuity.


"Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" — Juvénal, Satires, VI, 346.  En français : « Qui nous protègera contre ceux qui nous protègent ? »  In English: " Who will protect us from those who protect us? "

 — Mauro Cappelletti dans Louis Favoreu (dir.), Le pouvoir des juges, Paris, Economica, 1990, p. 115.
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“In public regulation of this sort there is no such thing as absolute and untrammelled ‘discretion’, that is that action can be taken on any ground or for any reason that can be suggested to the mind of the administrator; no legislative Act can, without express language, be taken to contemplate an unlimited arbitrary power exercisable for any purpose, however capricious or irrelevant, regardless of the nature or purpose of the statute. Fraud and cor­ruption in the Commission may not be mentioned in such statutes but they are always implied as exceptions. ‘Discretion’ necessarily implies good faith in discharging public duty; there is always a perspective within which a statute is intended to operate; and any clear departure from its lines or objects is just as objectionable as fraud or corruption.”

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I am no fan of Saul Alinsky's whose methods are antidemocratic and unparliamentary. But since we are fighting a silent war against the subversive Left, I say, if it works for them, it will work for us. Bring on the ridicule!  And in this case, it is richly deserved by the congeries of judicial forces wearing the Tweedle suits, and by those who are accurately conducting our befuddled usurpers towards the Red Dawn.

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