Judge cleared in Katelynn complaint
Katelynn Sampson's battered body was found Aug. 3, 2008 http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/556215
No sign child was in peril, judicial council says
Dec 19, 2008 04:30 AM
The Ontario Judicial Council has dismissed a complaint against the judge who granted custody of 7-year-old Katelynn Sampson to the woman now charged with first-degree murder in her death.
Katelynn was found dead in an apartment in the Queen St. W. and Lansdowne Ave. area in August.
Her guardian Donna Irving ? whose criminal record includes convictions involving prostitution, drugs and violence ? and her common-law partner Warren Johnson have since been charged with first-degree murder.
Outrage over the death helped prompt the provincial government to introduce child custody reforms after the Toronto Star uncovered court transcripts revealing Ontario Court Justice Debra Paulseth asked few questions before awarding full and final custody to Irving in June.
Ontario New Democrat justice critic and MPP Peter Kormos (Welland) filed a complaint against Paulseth with the Ontario Judicial Council shortly after the death.
After reviewing the court file, transcripts and audiotape of the three appearances before Paulseth at the family courthouse in the Jarvis St. and Gerrard St. E. area, the council dismissed the complaint.
"The Council investigated the complaint, and dismissed it at the earliest opportunity, without seeking a response from the judge," Ontario Court of Justice spokesperson Kirby Chown said in a statement.
"The members observed that there was no indication or suggestion that the child was in peril or that her best interests were not being met while being cared for by the friend," the council wrote.
The case was a civil proceeding between private parties, and Sampson "conceded that this arrangement was in her child's best interests" when she consented to Irving having custody, the council wrote. "It would not have been appropriate for the judge, on her own initiative, to undertake an extensive inquiry in order to ascertain character flaws by ordering a criminal record check or [an] assessment of the friend or her partner."
Legislation introduced last month will require potential guardians to undergo police background checks, among other conditions.
A man who answered the phone at Paulseth's home yesterday said the judge would not comment.http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/556215