Former Immigration Judge Loses Law License Following Jail Term

By Andy Semotiuk | February 18, 2016

US and Canadian immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk: An awful story from the Toronto Star about an immigration judge who stepped out of bounds in a big way:

Disgraced former refugee judge Steve Ellis has been ordered to “surrender” his lawyer’s licence — years after he was found guilty of professional misconduct in soliciting sexual favours from a South Korean refugee claimant in 2006. Ellis, a former Toronto city councillor, was convicted of breach of trust and bribery in 2010 by the Superior Court of Justice. However, the Law Society Tribunal only held the disciplinary hearing against him in October after he had exhausted all his avenues of criminal appeals.

Preying Upon The Vulnerable

There is hardly anything more corrosive to the rule of law than judges who abuse their power for personal gain, particularly those who prey on the weakest members of our society.

While medical evidence of severe bipolar disorder was proffered in mitigation of punishment in the above case, it was not enough to help the judge shake loose of his act. Even so, it took ten years for this case to come to a close. The judge committed the offense in 2006, was convicted in 2010, lost his appeal to the Supreme Court in 2014, and finally surrendered his license in front of the Law Society of Upper Canada just this year.

Considering that the matter had to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and then the Law Society before it was resolved, clearly the judge made generous use of our legal system’s protections to try to absolve himself of his liability. What the legal system failed to follow up on in a timely manner, hopefully the media and blogs like this will keep in the spotlight so that future would-be victims are protected.