Another public figure in a position of trust arrested for booze related offences. This provincial court judge must be extremely lucky or have a really good lawyer. Either way things seem to have worked out nicely for this fellow.
The second charge he faced could have been far more serious than causing a disturbance.
Disturbance charge wasn't judge's first, letter reveals
Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, November 04, 2006
A senior Provincial Court judge from Kamloops who was arrested in February for causing a disturbance in a Vancouver bar faced a similar charge before becoming a judge, a fact not publicly released in the proceedings that saw him avoid criminal prosecution.
Judge Balwinder William Sundhu was diverted to an alternative measures program -- one that allows an accused to accept responsibility for his conduct and, in lieu of prosecution, make reparation to victims and the community -- after an investigation by independent special prosecutor Peter Freeman.
Sundhu was arrested Feb. 16 inside the Terrace Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver.
At the time, police alleged he was drunk and acting belligerently towards lounge staff, its patrons and security workers. Sundhu spent a night in the drunk tank before being released the next morning.
As a result of the decision to divert Sundhu to the alternative measures program, the charge of causing a disturbance was stayed.
Sundhu has been on the Provincial Court bench since 1996 but has been assigned non-sitting duties since after his arrest in February.
The new allegations against him came to light in a letter sent by the president of the B.C. Federation of Police Officers to Judge Brian Neal, the associate chief judge who is conducting an investigation to determine Sundhu's fitness as a judge.
In that letter, BCFPO president Don McKenzie said his organization has recently been made aware of an incident in the early 1990s, which he said involved Sundhu while he was a defence lawyer in Williams Lake.
"Members of the Williams Lake detachment of the RCMP were called to the Fraser Inn Hotel regarding an intoxicated male who was causing a disturbance and refusing to pay for his meal," he wrote, saying the man in question was Sundhu.
McKenzie wrote that Sundhu was arrested and taken to the police station, where he allegedly "reached across the counter and slapped one of the constables in the face."
McKenzie's letter says the officer in question also recalls Sundhu issuing a death threat.
On Friday, a clerk at the Williams Lake Court confirmed charges were laid against Sundhu in the 1990s, but said they had been stayed. She was not able to say when the alleged incident took place or what the exact charges were.
An assistant at Sundhu's office said the judge would not speak to the media, and referred calls to Sundhu's lawyer, who could not be reached Friday.
In an interview, McKenzie said he wrote the letter because Provincial Court Chief Judge Hugh Stansfield has made comments indicating the February incident in Vancouver was the first of its kind for Sundhu.
"Our belief was it was very possible the chief justice did not have all the information and we wanted to make him aware of it," he said.
"We decided the public demands and expects a high level of accountability from the judiciary. We did not want the chief justice to be caught in an embarrassing situation where maybe later on this would come out and he had not been provided all he information," he added.
Representatives at the Office of the Chief Judge could not be reached for comment Friday.
McKenzie's letter also said investigators with the Vancouver Police Department knew about the Williams Lake incident, though he could not say if that information was passed to Freeman, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.
Const. Howard Chow of the VPD said he was unable to contact investigators on the case to determine if the information had been passed along, and Freeman could not be reached.
Special prosecutors are appointed to deal with cases where there is a significant potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of criminal justice.
The announcement of Freeman's recommendation for alternative measures was made last Friday.