Nova Scotia judge upholds medical privacy and bodily autonomy against employer demands

Judge Rickcola Brinton is trying to revive a complaint against the province's former top judge, alleging that judicial misconduct is responsible for the initial complaint being dismissed.

Nova Scotia judge upholds medical privacy and bodily autonomy against employer demands
THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Nova Scotia Judiciary
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A provincial court judge in Nova Scotia wants her complaint against her former employer for requesting her COVID-19 vaccine status revived, citing inappropriate dismissal.

Judge Richcola Brinton originally filed a complaint against Judge Pamela Williams last June, alleging judicial misconduct and a violation of her rights as the courts demanded unequivocal adherence to COVID-19 vaccine status disclosure.

The complaint was initially dismissed by Chief Justice Michael J. Wood in the fall of 2023, prompting Brinton to file for a judicial review of the decision.

Brinton’s legal team stated that Brinton was not given the option to respond to the submissions used in Justice Woods’ decision and that the complaint was inappropriately dismissed, during court proceedings in Halifax last week.

Justice Christa Brothers, who is overseeing the judicial review in Halifax’s Supreme Court, reserved her decision until a later date.

The Chief Judge of Nova Scotia Provincial Court – overseen by Williams until her term ended in August – imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Provincial Court Judges in 2021 that denied court entry to those who did not adhere to the requirement.

When Brinton refused to share her confidential medical records, Williams threatened her with suspension and a misconduct complaint. Williams then contacted Brinton’s doctor directly, both in writing and by phone, to request her private medical information.

“Judge Brinton should be commended for taking a principled stand seeking to uphold public trust in the administration of justice, despite majoritarian sentiment at the time promoting vaccine mandates and the disclosure of private medical information,” shared Marty Moore, a lawyer representing Justice Brinton. “The Nova Scotia Supreme Court is being asked to uphold the integrity of the process for reviewing judicial misconduct complaints, and to ensure that such complaints are fairly determined.”

Brinton has filed a separate civil suit against Williams and the provincial court, alleging that her rights to judicial independence and medical privacy were violated when Williams pressured her to disclose her COVID-19 vaccination status. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 2.

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