Nova Scotia review committee to investigate judge’s ‘drunk can consent’ ruling
The Nova Scotia Judiciary announced on Thursday that a review committee will investigate complaints against a provincial court judge who delivered a controversial decision in a case of a taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger in his cab.
In his decision, first reported by Metro Halifax, Judge Gregory Lenehan ruled that the Crown didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant didn’t consent to sexual activity with the cab driver, Bassam Al-Rawi.
“A drunk can consent,” Lenehan said as part of his ruling.
The decision, and that phrase, in particular, sparked a backlash, with protesters taking to the streets in Halifax, groups calling for the judge’s removal, and provincial politicians voicing their disapproval of the judge’s comments.
According to Jennifer Stairs, communications director for the judiciary, a number of complaints have been filed against Lenehan.
The number and nature of complaints against Lenehan have not been disclosed.
The Crown has said it is appealing Lenehan’s decision.
The appeal is scheduled to be heard Nov. 22 in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
WATCH: Protest held over Halifax judge’s comments on consent and alcohol
Michael MacDonald, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, said that despite his position as the chair of the Judicial Council, he has secured himself from hearing the appeal.
Stairs also stated that the committee will not include MacDonald and that other than setting up the committee he’ll have no further role in its decision.
The review committee will consist of three members of the judicial council; a judge of the Provincial or Family Court appointed by the province’s judges’ association, a lawyer appointed by the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and a public representative appointed by Mark Furey, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
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