Ex-Waterloo Regional Police officer’s allegation of bias against judge branded ‘false’

KITCHENER — Former Waterloo Regional Police officer Kelly Donovan has claimed a judge was biased against her after a news report allegedly insinuated she was to blame for the Zoom bombing of a court hearing.

Ontario’s highest court called the allegation against the judge “false” — false.

Donovan, who resigned in 2017, filed a lawsuit against police in 2018 alleging breach of the resignation agreement.

Last April, Superior Court Judge Thomas Bielby dismissed Donovan’s statement, saying the court lacked jurisdiction. The judge said the claim will be decided by arbitration under the Police Services Act or by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Donovan appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which dismissed it last week. However, he varied the Superior Court’s order by “staying this action” until Donovan’s remedies under the collective agreement and in the human rights tribunal were “exhausted.”

The first day of a court hearing in Bielby in February 2021 was zoomed in for 20 minutes. Swastikas and explicit pornography bombarded the computer screens of the judge, lawyers and other attendees. The culprit has not been identified.

Donovan told the Court of Appeals in a written brief that CBC published an article insinuating that it was responsible for the Zoom attack because it shared the court’s Zoom link with its social media followers.

She alleged that the article caused an “apprehension of bias against her”. She called Bielby’s decision “a marked departure from established legal principles.”

The Court of Appeal said Donovan did not elaborate on the issue in her oral submissions — possibly because she was short on time — but did not withdraw it.

“To assert that a judge departed from the law because of bias against a litigant is a very serious allegation,” the Court of Appeal said.

“Although (Donovan) represents herself, her written materials and oral submissions demonstrated a high level of sophistication. She clearly appreciates the meaning and consequences of his words. In this case, there was no evidentiary basis for the allegation, and it can be characterized as “false”. His submission therefore fails.

Donovan listed four other grounds for appeal.

His complaint against the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board and Chief Bryan Larkin alleges breach of contract, mischief (a transgression) in public office and negligence.

“She pleaded that Larkin violated the resignation agreement because he swore an affidavit in defense of a class action lawsuit against the board, in which he allegedly disclosed information capable of identifying him as having resigned from the forces of police,” the Court of Appeal said.

None of the allegations have been proven.

Donovan went on sick leave in February 2017 for post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing an accidental shooting at the Ontario Police College in 2011, the Court of Appeal heard. She resigned in June 2017.

Donovan said in an email that she has yet to decide whether to try to appeal the court’s decision.

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