Judge who told woman to remove hijab offering to apologize in settlement proposal

Hard to see that this apology is genuine or just an effort to avoid discipline given how long Judge Marengo has been fighting this:

A Quebec court judge who refused to hold a hearing for a Montreal woman after the woman refused to remove her hijab now says she’s willing to apologize for the incident, more than five years after it happened.

In February 2015, Judge Eliana Marengo refused to hear the case of Rania El-Alloul.

El-Alloul was in court trying to get her impounded car back.

“In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Marengo told El-Alloul at the time. The judge said the court was a secular space, and no religious symbols should be worn by those before it.

Marengo compared the hijab to a hat and sunglasses, saying she wouldn’t hear a case from someone wearing those, either.

After the incident, dozens of people filed complaints with the Quebec Council of the Magistrature, the body responsible for disciplining judges in the province.

In a letter sent recently to the complainants, the council said it would convene a hearing Sept. 8.

“The purpose of this hearing will be to study a settlement proposal from the prosecutors on file, including a letter of apology from Judge Marengo to Mrs. El-Alloul,” the letter said.

The letter also said the apology would be released to the public, in exchange for the dropping of the disciplinary complaints against Marengo.

Council spokesperson Paul Crépeau told CBC News the settlement is being jointly proposed by Marengo’s lawyers and the lawyer handling the complaint for the council.

Long legal fight

Marengo has been fighting the disciplinary complaint in court for years, at one point challenging the authority of the council to even hear the complaint.

Judge Eliana Marengo’s lawyers are now proposing a compromise where Marengo would write a letter of apology to El-Alloul.(Radio-Canada)

After a request from the legal team assisting El-Alloul, the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2018 issued a judgment reaffirming that the Quebec court dress code does not forbid head scarves if they constitute a sincere religious belief and don’t harm the public interest.

El-Alloul herself filed a formal complaint with the council after the incident, but it was rejected because of a technicality.

However, dozens of other complaints were accepted, and the council convened a special panel of five judges to consider the case.

El-Alloul declined to comment on the latest developments.

Source: Judge who told woman to remove hijab offering to apologize in settlement proposal

Denying Quebec woman day in court because she was wearing of hijab went against Canadian law principles: judge

Surprised that the judge, while making the correct ruling in the particular case, refused to make a general ruling that wearing a hijab (or kippa, or turban) is permissible in court. Hard to understand what hypothetical situation he was thinking of:

Seventeen months after a Quebec Court judge told her to remove her hijab in court, Rania El-Alloul has received partial vindication from the justice system, but no guarantee it will not happen again.

In a ruling released this week, Superior Court Justice Wilbrod Décarie writes, “The court has a lot of sympathy for (El-Alloul) and deeply regrets how she was treated.”

Judge Eliana Marengo’s February 2015 refusal to hear El-Alloul in the “secular space” of a courtroom unless she removed her Muslim head scarf flew in the face of a 2012 Supreme Court of Canada decision that a witness was entitled to testify in a face-covering niqab, Décarie found.

But he did not issue the judgment sought by El-Alloul — declaring that her rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been breached and affirming her right to appear in court wearing her hijab.

“Each case is a specific case that has to be evaluated in the context of the witness’s court appearance,” Décarie wrote. “It cannot be declared in advance, absolutely and out of context, that El-Alloul will have the right to wear the hijab during her future appearances before the Court of Quebec. Nobody can predict the future.”

What happens next, I don’t know. I hope no one ever feels what I felt in the past

Julius Grey, one of El-Alloul’s lawyers, called Décarie’s finding “wrong in law and very dangerous.” It opens the door to litigants trying to destabilize a witness by filing motions asking she remove her hijab.

“A person will feel insecure before the courts,” Grey said, adding he favours an appeal.

The lawyer said the issue is important as restrictions on religious dress become more common.

“It’s not a particularly Quebec matter. All over the West there is an unhealthy irritation, I would say, with religious garb, with religious practice, with other customs,” Grey said.

Source: Denying Quebec woman day in court because she was wearing of hijab went against Canadian law principles: judge | National Post

Quebec woman ordered by judge to remove hijab in court seeks clearer rules

Given the ongoing Quebec debates, a declaratory ruling might be helpful:

Rania El-Alloul, the Montreal woman who was asked by a Quebec Court judge to remove her hijab during a hearing in 2015, was back in court Thursday asking a Superior Court justice to clarify the rules governing religious attire in Quebec courtrooms.

Judge Eliana Marengo told El-Alloul during a hearing in February 2015 that she would only hear El-Alloul’s case if she removed her hijab.

At the time, El-Alloul was in court trying to get her car back after it had been seized by Quebec’s automobile insurance board.

Marengo told El-Alloul that a courtroom was a secular space, and she was not suitably dressed.

The judge also compared the hijab to a hat and sunglasses, which would not normally be allowed in court.

The specific rule about attire in Quebec courtrooms simply states that people appearing before judges must be “suitably dressed,” with no further explanation.

The case sparked outrage across the country, with many lawyers offering to represent El-Alloul and people offering money to help cover her legal bills, suggesting that her charter rights had been violated.

Superior Court asked to weigh in on attire

El-Alloul’s lawyers asked Quebec Superior Court Justice Wilbrod Décarie on Thursday for a declaratory judgment — essentially a ruling that would clarify that hijabs and other religious attire are permitted in Quebec courtrooms and that a judge can’t refuse to hear witnesses on that basis.

Julius Grey and Catherine McKenzie argued that such a ruling is necessary so people who wear religious attire know if they can be heard in Quebec courts.

Without a declaration of rights, McKenzie said, “this opens the door to ask people about religious belief because of what they wear on their head.”

She called that a slippery slope.

Mario Nomandin, the lawyer for Quebec’s attorney general, said such a declaration was not needed.

Normandin noted the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that the question of religious clothing in court should be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Justice Wilbrod Décarie said he will take the arguments under advisement.

It could be weeks or months before he renders his decision.

Source: Quebec woman ordered by judge to remove hijab in court seeks clearer rules – Montreal – CBC News

‘You are not suitably dressed’: Quebec judge refused to hear single mother’s case because of hijab | National Post

Outrageous. Has she made the same ruling for men wearing a kippa or turban? Does she not understand what religious freedom means?

A Quebec Court judge refused to hear the case this week of a single mother trying to retrieve her car because the woman would not remove her Muslim head scarf.

“In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul Tuesday, according to a courtroom recording obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

“Decorum is important. Hats and sunglasses, for example, are not allowed, and I don’t see why scarves on the head would be. The same rules need to be applied to everyone.”

Ms. El-Alloul testified she was on welfare and the mother of three sons. She was trying to get back her car, which had been seized by the provincial automobile insurance board after one of her sons was caught driving it with a suspended licence.

She told the judge she needed the car to provide for her family. “I’m facing money problems,” she said.

But Judge Marengo refused to hear the merits of the case, citing a regulation governing court decorum that states simply, “Any person appearing before the court must be suitably dressed.”

She noted Ms. El-Alloul had said her hijab was a religious requirement. “In my opinion, the courtroom is a secular place and a secular space,” she said. “There are no religious symbols in this room, not on the walls and not on the persons.”

It seems given the outcry, many feel the same way.

‘You are not suitably dressed’: Quebec judge refused to hear single mother’s case because of hijab | National Post.