Complaints against Ukabam judge dismissed by judicial council

Photo by Brandon Harder/Regina Leader-Post. Formal complaints made against Court of King's Bench Justice Brian Scherman have been dismissed by the Canadian Judicial Council.

Brandon Harder, Regina Leader-Post

Formal complaints made against the judge who acquitted a former Regina doctor of seven counts of sexual assault have been dismissed.

Justice Brian Scherman, a judge of the Court of King’s Bench, acquitted Sylvester Ukabam in May 2022.

Following the acquittal, complaints about the judge were lodged with the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), a professional oversight body.

One of those complaints was made by one of the women who had accused Ukabam of sexual assault. She cannot be named in keeping with a court-ordered publication ban.

In the complaint, she accused the judge of violating the CJC’s ethical principles of competence, equality and impartiality. She criticized his trial decision as reflecting “misogyny and gender bias.”

Scherman’s ruling on the trial was appealed by the Crown but upheld unanimously by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, which released its decision in February.

No application for leave to appeal was filed with the Supreme Court of Canada, following the decision from Saskatchewan’s top court.

Earlier in April, the Leader-Post reached out to the CJC for an update on the status of the complaint process, which had been put on pause pending the outcome of the Crown appeal.

The complaints had been referred to Christopher E. Hinkson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and chair of the CJC judicial conduct committee, said an emailed statement from the CJC director of communications Johanna Laporte on April 26.

“Having carefully reviewed the complaints and the decision of the Court of Appeal, Chief Justice Hinkson concluded that the matter did not require further consideration and was thereby closed,” the email said, also noting there was “no requirement to give significant weight to the complainants’ testimony.”

“Moreover, the Court of Appeal stated that Justice Scherman issued a thorough decision. In that decision, he detailed the evidence submitted by all witnesses and the defendant and provided complete explanations for his assessment of all testimonies including the expert evidence.”

It goes on to state that a judge’s “conclusions and findings” do not fall within the CJC’s mandate to review.

“While complainants may be in disagreement with how Justice Scherman assessed the evidence, it is the responsibility and duty of the judge to rule regarding the admissibility of evidence and the submissions from the parties. In order to do that, a judge has the discretion to comment and ask questions on the evidence and the submissions presented.”

The emailed statement did not indicate the total number of complaints lodged.