The tenant requests the disqualification of the administrative judge in the following nine files. The tenant has produced 5 requests in different files: 1) a reduction in rent, condemnation for damages with interest, request to be allowed to deposit his rent; 2) a request to be allowed to deposit his rent; 3) cessation of harassment and sentence for damages with interest; 4) cessation of harassment and sentence for damages with interest and punitive damages; 5) condemnation for damages and order to maintain the dwelling in good habitable condition. For his part, the landlord has produced 4 requests: 1) condemnation for damages with interest and work execution order; 2) termination of the lease and recovery of rent due; 3) termination of the lease and condemnation for damages; 4) termination of the lease. Recovery of rent and termination of the lease for frequent delays.
On January 12, 2015, after granting a peremptory delay against the tenant on 13 November 2014, all the above-mentioned files are put together for a single hearing. At the hearing, held on 12 January 2015, on the first of two days set for the hearing, the tenant makes a request for disqualification to the director of the Rental Board, dated January 12, 2015 as follows:
A request, or rather a recusal motion, will be filed later at the RDL in accordance with the laws and regulations.
Signature: the tenant.”(sic)
The unfolding of the hearing
The Court informed the tenant that the document was incomplete because it had no ground for disqualification. For nearly an hour, the Court tried to explain to the tenant that such recusal request did not comply with the provisions in force and would accordingly be dismissed.
After reviewing the document submitted by the tenant, the Court dismissed the request for recusal of the tenant.
The Court’s decision
Despite the title of the documents presented the Court considers that it is not really a request for disqualification, but rather a desperate and completely frivolous request, made only to delay the hearing of the cases. Questioned by the Court, the tenant admits that if he filed a request for disqualification, the Court who refused it had to suspend his file. Besides, the document filed by the tenant says he intends to file a request “shortly”, thus assuming a Court refusal on the challenge. Implicitly, concludes the director, the ultimate goal of the tenant is only to suspend the hearing of the case.
Pressed by the Court, the tenant filed his documents. No substantial grounds for disqualification exist in the documents produced. The tenant is dissatisfied with an interim order made by said director. Dissatisfaction cannot be used for a request for legal denial. i
The director of the Rental Board rejects the tenant’s request as abusive and dilatory, made solely to obtain the effect of suspension of a recusal motion and refused to suspend the hearing of the cases.
At the time of the oral rendering of the judgement the tenant had decided to leave the courtroom, taking his files. The director then decided to proceed on all issues despite the voluntary absence of the tenant.
Given the departure of the tenant, and given his refusal to present evidence on his claims, in view of the amalgamation of the files, the director rejects all the claims of the tenant, given the lack of evidence. For the requests from the landlord proven at the hearing, the commissioner condemns the tenant to pay the landlord the sum of $5251.47 with interest. This decision was made by Me Ronald Charbonneau, administrative judge on February 3, 2015. ii
A new request for recusal
The tenant requests the disqualification of the administrative judge in the nine (9) above- mentioned files. The tenant has filed a request for recusal, a document of twenty (20) pages, in which he asks the disqualification of the administrative judge for reasons of partiality, prejudice, underestimation and intimidation that would have stained the statements of the administrative judge Me Ronald Charbonneau.
The second request was heard by Me Isabelle Normand, administrative judge, on March 25, 2015, made under the challenge procedure laid down in Sections 24 and 25 of the Regulation on Procedure before the Régie du logement:
“Section 24: The party who intends to raise a ground for challenge against a commissioner seized by a request or motion must do so in writing. The director must then signal whether he accepts or not to recuse himself and record his decision in the minutes. In case of refusal he must adjourn the hearing.
Section 25: If the commissioner refuses to recuse himself, the party may, within 3 days of the refusal, file a motion for recusal which must be heard by a commissioner other than the one whose recusal is requested. The recusal motion suspends the hearing until the parties have been notified of the decision on that request.”
Me Ronald Charbonneau, the administrative judge who refused to suspend the hearing, dismissed the objection and all requests made by the tenant in his decision rendered on 3 February 2015.
Under Section 24 of the Regulation on procedure before the Régie du logement, the tenant filed a motion for recusal in view of the refusal of Me Charbonneau to recuse himself.
After hearing the tenant, the administrative judge, Me Isabelle Normand, rejects the second recusal motion as follows:
“In this case, the tenant has not given satisfactory evidence to the Court of an apprehension of bias and more particularly that administrative judge Charbonneau showed evidence of bias, prejudice or intimidation that would have stained his statements as well as the two decisions that he had rendered on July 9, 2014 and on February 3, 2015.
It concerns rather mere suppositions, unfounded assumptions and conjecture.
The tenant cannot therefore blame administrative judge Charbonneau for having emitted simple comments or issued reports of the applicable rules of evidence in this case to facilitate the presentation of evidence, or to inform the tenant of the weaknesses thereof.” iii
It must be noted that the administrative judge, to avoid that the tenant might use the recusal request in order to delay the hearing of bad faith on all issues, refused to suspend the cause after rejecting the recusal request.