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Montreal, March 15, 2011 --- A deaf and indigent Black man in his sixties has, with CRARR's help, filed for judicial review of a Police Ethics Committee's decision that resulted in the violation of his constitutional rights when the tribunal heard his case without an interpreter.

On October 21, 2008, a police intervention took place in his social housing building and his door was broken. He witnessed the arrest of his neighbor R.B. and didn't receive any explanation from the police officers.

The next day, his community worker, Ms. J.D., was shown the damages to his door. Mr. Chérilus then wrote a complaint to the Police Ethics.Commissioner. On August 30, 2010, his complaint was rejected. In his investigation, the Commissioner did not gather neither the testimony of R.B. nor that of J.D., and did not mention the police intervention leading to the arrest of R.B.

On September 10, 2010, Mr. Chérilus submits an application for review to the Police Ethics Committee. The eve of the hearing on December 14, 2010, the petitioner presents himself to the office of the Committee to inform a secretary that he is deaf and that he will be attending without counsel. At the hearing on the next day, he informs the administrative judge of this fact. The judge then communicates with him by writing and explains to him the process. At that moment, Mr. S.P., a community worker at the agency that manages the building, presents himself as a colleague of Ms. J.D.

Mr. Chérilus contests the presence of Mr. S.P. since the latter is neither his social worker nor a witness. Some exchanges between the judge and Mr. S.P. take place but are not fully "translated" in writing. Mr. Chérilus objects and leaves the hearing.

On February 7, 2011, the Committee rejects the review requested by Mr. Chérilus. It specifically mentions in its decision that Mr. S.P. was a social worker accompanying Mr. Chérilus but that he was not questioned by the Committee and did not intervene in the exchanges with Mr. Chérilus.

With CRARR’s help, Mr. Chérilus files for judicial review of that decision in the Superior Court of Québec, invoking the violation of his constitutional rights as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In his petition, he submits that the Committee has committed the following errors:

  • It did not mention that he is deaf and had asked for assistance;
  • It wrote that Mr. Chérilus had come “accompanied by a social worker”. However, Mr. S.P. couldn't serve as a witness because he wasn't present at the time of the accident; nor could he “accompany” Mr. Chérilus as he did not have any mandate to this regard, and that Mr. Chérilus had objected to his presence. Moreover, he is a community worker and not a social worker, legally speaking;
  • It has excluded two key witnesses, J.D. and R.B. The Committee specifies in a letter transmitted after the hearing that R.B. was not summoned because his testimony was considered irrelevant, whereas he is a witness of the incident;
  • It did not ensure the petitioner’s capacity to express himself as well as to understand although it knew the nature of his disability. It proceeded with the hearing notwithstanding the fact that the petitioner is deaf, the unexpected arrival of the community worker and Mr. Chérilus’ difficulty in following the hearing;
  • It did not inform the petitioner of his constitutional right to an interpreter in its notice of appearance of the 23rd of November 2010, a right guaranteed by s.14 of the Canadian Charter. This has led to the violation of Mr. Chérilus’ constitutional rights as guaranteed by ss. 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter, namely the right to liberty and security which could not be infringed without regard to the principles of fundamental justice and the right to equality without discrimination based on handicap.

    Aymar Missakila, CRARR’s lawyer, represents Mr. Chérilus. The Police Ethics Commissioner is also cited as a respondent in the judicial review.