Monday, May 21, 2012

Their chances?

Good Day Readers:

At Saturday's pre-Inquiry hearing, Chair Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser asked if there were anyone who wished to address the Panel. Two ladies stepped forward seeking intervener standing but unlike us since they had not formally submitted anything in writing they were asked to do so.

One will likely be unsuccessful should she choose to do so because her ongoing child custody case involves Queen's Bench Justice Catherine Everett appointed to QB (where the pay is better) from Provincial Court during November of 2006 by then Federal Justice Minister Vic "Call me Mr. Bills C-30 and 51" Toews. The problem she will face is it's more than likely her application for standing if tendered will likely be dismissed because the inquiry's purview will only focus on the conduct of ACJ Douglas. However, read on, that's no reason for her not to apply.

However, not so with the other lady. In OTR (Off The Record) discussions she has assured CyberSmokeBlog she fully intends it apply based on her previous appearances before Lori Douglas. Considering what we have been told to date, she plans to raise some very interesting arguments. CSB has no reason to doubt the validity of what it has been told.

In the case of the first lady, notwithstanding her issues are with another Justice, she may still wish to consider making a written submission as it will provide her with an opportunity to raise issues related to how the courts deal with child custody cases. Given the inquiry is being funded by taxpayers, will all submissions eventually be available to the public once a decision if handed down? That's a question we will be researching.

Clare L. Pieuk
Sex-scandal inquiry to be heard in city
Judge's bid to move harassment case dismissed
By Melissa Martin
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Naked photographs of a senior Manitoba judge engaged in bondage are part of a man's complaints to legal watchdogs about the judge's past and that of her husband, CBC News has learned. A formal complaint was filed in July with the Canadian Judicial Council against Lori Douglas, Associate Chief Justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (Family Division). Another complaint has been lodged with Manitoba's Law Society against Douglas's husband, Jack King, 64, a Winnipeg family lawyer. August 31 2010.
Sheila Block, counsel for Judge Lori Douglas (above right), enters Federal Court on Saturday. Alex Chapman (bottom right) has filed a complaint of sexual harassment against the judge. (Trevor Hagan/Winnipeg Free Press)
A tearful Alex Alexander Chapman the man at the centre of a judicial scandal regarding Associate chief Justice Lori Douglas and her husband lawyer Jack King explains his situation. (Ken Gigliotti 

The stage is set for a formal inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment against a Manitoba judge whose husband once handed out explicit photos of her to a client.

On Saturday, a five-person Canadian Judicial Council panel gave the green light to launch the inquiry against Justice Lori Douglas in a Winnipeg courtroom this summer.

The judge's lawyers sought to have the inquiry moved away from Winnipeg, expressing concern about media coverage and the affect it would have on her son. The panel said the media spotlight is likely to continue regardless of where the hearings are held.

"Because this case handles the conduct of a judge from Manitoba, this province is where the greatest public interest exists," said Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, who chairs the inquiry panel.

"(Concern over media attention) is not enough to justify relocating the hearing from where it properly belongs."

The inquiry is the latest in the fallout from the 2010 public revelation that Douglas's husband, Winnipeg lawyer Jack King, had exhorted former client Alex Chapman to enter into a sexual relationship with his wife.

Chapman claimed King had given him nude photos of Douglas, and had asked him to have sex with her.

Douglas was a lawyer at the time. The photos, some of which show Douglas nude and in bondage gear, ended up on the Internet.

Although Chapman and King reached a $25,000 confidentiality settlement in 2003, Chapman broke his silence in 2010 and filed a $67-million lawsuit against the couple and the law firm where they worked at the time of the alleged harassment.

The lawsuit was later dropped, while King pleaded guilty to a Law Society of Manitoba charge of professional misconduct. He was given a reprimand and ordered to pay $13,650 in Society legal fees.

Douglas has been on leave from the bench since August 2010. Last November, after reviewing the evidence against Douglas, the Canadian Judicial Council ordered a full inquiry into her conduct.

It is only the eighth time in the council's 40-year history that an inquiry has been struck. The panel has the ability to recommend Douglas be removed from the bench. She was appointed to the bench in 2005, at which time she reportedly disclosed the situation with Chapman.

Most of Saturday's preliminary hearing was primarily to iron out procedural details, including narrowing down dates for what is expected to be about 10 hearings, six of which will be used to present evidence.

Though no firm dates were set, the panel and lawyers for the public and for Douglas hope to have the inquiry wrapped up by the end of July.

The relative procedural calm was briefly broken in the morning when Chapman approached the microphone to make a plea to have the Canadian Judicial Council fund a lawyer to represent him at the inquiry.

Chapman trembled with emotion as he described the fallout from going public with his accusations against King and Douglas. "My whole world has been turned upside down," he said, noting he has been unable to work a regular job since he was fired from his position at Great-West Life in 2010.

"He has been diagnosed with a chronic stress disorder, he said, and cannot absorb more legal fees if he is able to get standing for the hearing. "I told the truth all the way. I never changed my story. I don't have much left, but the road has been long... Jack King took everything from me. All I wanted was a divorce."

It's not yet known if Chapman will be given standing at the inquiry. Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, argued Chapman would, "at best," be considered a witness, which would not entitle him to his own counsel.

The panel concluded it would wait to make a decision until it had publicly released the formal allegations against Douglas. In the meantime, it approved funding for a lawyer to help Chapman draw up a legal submission to seek standing in the hearings.

The rest of the hearing was peppered with submissions by members of the public who wished to intervene in the proceedings, including a woman concerned about whether Douglas was fit to preside over a past family case, and another woman who expressed concerns about the ethics of Canada's judiciary.

Neither of those requests was deemed appropriate for the inquiry, as Fraser noted the inquiry was not an "open mic" for broader concerns.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 20, 2012 Page A5


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