Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Police Review Board – Investigations – Police – Professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming – Disciplinary proceedings – Penalties and suspensions – Public interest – Judicial review – Procedural requirements and fairness – Bias – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter
Ranni v. Halifax (Regional Municipality),  N.S.J. No. 121, 2011 NSSC 83, Nova Scotia Supreme Court, March 7, 2011, R.W. Wright J.
The applicant was a police officer with the respondent, Halifax Regional Police. After committing three disciplinary defaults over a one-month period in 2007, he was terminated from his employment under the respondent’s internal discipline process. The applicant filed a notice of review (on penalty only) with the Nova Scotia Police Review Board, which affirmed the dismissal after a full de novo hearing. In rendering its decision, the Board took into account the fact that the applicant admitted to operating his motor vehicle on a number of occasions while his driving privileges had been suspended pursuant to his impaired driving conviction. The applicant then sought judicial review of the Board’s decision by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in order to be reinstated as a police officer.
The applicant contested the Board’s decision on the basis that the Board wrongly considered events that occurred after the applicant was dismissed from his employment, that it failed to give appropriate weight to the applicant’s employment record and past history of sexual abuse, and that it failed to consider the applicant’s arguments of procedural fairness, specifically concerning the resources expended by the respondent in investigating the driving while prohibited allegations against the applicant.
The Court, applying a standard of reasonableness in its review of the Board’s discretionary decision, concluded that the Board’s decision was intelligible, justified and transparent, and was embraced by the set of rational outcomes open to the board such that it satisfied the Dunsmuir reasonableness analysis.
The Board had rightly considered the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors in rendering its decision. The aggravating factors included the negative effect of the applicant’s conduct from the public interest viewpoint, the seriousness of the misconduct, the publicity effect and the damage to the reputation of the police force, as well as the degree of the applicant’s remorsefulness. The Board had also considered, as mitigating factors, the applicant’s history of sexual abuse, his reasonable potential for reform and rehabilitation, his positive employment history and the financial hardship which the dismissal had imposed on him and his family.
The Court was of the view that the Board’s consideration of the applicant’s post-dismissal conduct in rendering its decision was reasonable based on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Toronto Board of Education v. Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation,  1 S.C.R. 487, as was holding his post-dismissal conduct to the standard of a police-officer in its assessment. The court did not note anything in the record that substantiated the applicant’s indication of bias or reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the Board.
Consequently, the judicial review application was dismissed.
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