Monday, June 11, 2012

CyberSmokeBlog adds second vastly overpaid Legal Affairs Critic/Analyst!

"VJH" incognito undertaking legal research for CyberSmokeBlog

Good Day Readers:

In response to one of our recent postings about the Douglas Inquiry we received a most interesting e-mail from Mr. Chris Budgell. As we explored his situation more closely we discovered he has quite a story to tell.

By way of brief background, his legal odyssey began approximately August, 1999 when he was summarily dismissed as a City of Vancouver employee. As a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, he argued in court that the British Columbia Labour Relations Board had failed in its responsibility to uphold The Principle of Duty of Fair Representation so asked the Court to overturn the LRB decision. In short, after a long battle he won when Justice Robert Goepel of the British Columbia Supreme Court on January 24, 2003 finally ruled in his favour.

What’s truly remarkable is in a decision that sent shock waves and reverberations throughout the province’s labour movement with the potential to impact countless workers now and in the future, he was self-represented throughout!

But it doesn’t end there. Chris Budgell has already filed one complaint with the Canada Judicial Council so is quite familiar with, as he calls it, “the juristocracy” – we like that term!.

In his letter dated April 9, 2012 (reproduced below) to British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Robert Bauman he raises the fascinating issue of how Chief Justices assign Justices to particular cases. This has immediate applicability to the Douglas Inquiry. It begs the question, “With all due respect, how was Mr. Guy J. Pratt selected as Independent Counsel? What about ACJ Douglas’ Counsel (Sheila Block and Molly Reynolds)? Does the public not have a reasonable right to know given when it’s all over taxpayers will be expected to pay the Inquiry’s expenses including all legal fees?

Mr. Budgell will be joining our other vastly overpaid Legal Affairs Critic/Analyst VJH. Together they will form CyberSmokeBlog’s “dynamic duo!”

Clare L. Pieuk
Chief Justice Robert J. Bauman

Chris Budgell's Letter to Chief Justice Bauman

Chief Justice Robert Bauman
B.C. Supreme Court
800 Smithe Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6Z 2E1

April 9, 2012

Assignment of Judge to Matter to be Heard on April 13

Dear Chief Justice Bauman:

I have appeared as a self-represented litigant before the B.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal several times, the first action being a judicial review that I brought as a petitioner and that was decided in my favour in a judgment issued in January 2003 by Justice Robert Goepel.

Based solely on that first experience I did not conclude that the courts lack the independence that the judiciary and the rest of the legal establishment insist they have, and that in reality the lack of independence from all of the other agencies run by the legal establishment results in a systemic bias against anyone who is facing parties represented by professional counsel. This reality is even more problematic when the parties represented by professional counsel are themselves members of the legal establishment.

I am returning to court on Friday, April 13, and I am bringing this issue to your attention because I would like, this time, to have an experience that does not add to the already copious evidence I have assembled of that lack of independence and institutional bias on the part of the judiciary.

In the years that I have been pursuing litigation and researching the legal system I have found no information about how cases are assigned to specific judges. In fact, I have heard anecdotally from other individuals that such assignments often appear to be made to favour the interests of a specific party. In due course, based on what I experienced myself and what I saw others experiencing in the courtroom, I concluded that that is happening.

I am going to cite one example that in my view was one of the most egregious. I have witnessed to date. It was the conduct of Justice Bruce Greyell in the hearing of a judicial review brought by a petitioner, Gordon Langston, who was represented by a friend acting as a lay advocate.

Some background will explain why I was in attendance at that hearing. The respondent to the judicial review that I initiated in 2002 were the B.C. Labour Relations Board, The Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the City of Vancouver. All of the litigation I have since pursued flows from that first case, though the legal issues have evolved as I have uncovered more information, especially about the conduct of the Labour Relations Board. The judgment of January 2003 was not the outcome I sought, which would have granted me due process rather than more undue process at the hands of the Labour Relations Board. However, it encouraged me to persevere, though I did not envision that I would have to perserve for years and possibly even decades.

I shared some of that long experience with others through various postings on the Internet, and in due course other people contacted me seeking advice. One was the person who committed himself to assisting his friend Gorgon Langston. I cannot overstate how impressed I was by that commitment and by his professionalism and investment of time and effort. I was nevertheless not optimistic that they would see due process.

I advised this advocate that he could learn who was hearing the case by phoning the courthouse on the prior afternoon. I was very surprised when he told me it was Bruce Greyell. I cannot recall if I had previously known that Mr. Greyell had received an appointment to the bench. I was familiar with his name because I was familiar with most of the labour law firms in Vancouver, including Roper Greyell.

Also, I knew that Tom Roper had been one of the three consultants who had drafted Section 13 of the Labour Relations Code for a former NDP government, and this provision was and is central to everything I have pursued.

I therefore advised Mr. Langston's advocate that he should ask Justice Greyell to recuse himself from the case. He did not take that advice. I attended the hearing on the following day, but relied upon what Mr. Langston's advocate told me outside of the courtroom about what transpired as I could not hear what was being said. Evidently, most of the day was taken up arguing about whether Mr. Langston had the right to be represented by a lay advocate, and Justice Greyell decided that issue in the affirmative. However, the hearing was concluded by Justice Greyell advising that they could not be continuing as planned the following day because he was going on vacation.

He never returned to that case. Another judge continued with it after an inordinately long adjournment.

Had that been my action, I would have challenged Justice Greyell's conduct with a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council. As you may be aware, I have since filed my own complaint with the CJC, and it was summarily dismissed. My view is that that dismissal, characterizing my complaint as "rhetoric," is simply more evidence of the judiciary's institutional bias.

I am attaching a copy of the complaint I filed with your colleague, Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree, and that I am using as the basis of my argument on April 13, I am going to be raising the issue of institutional bias at the outset of the April 13 hearing and on every subsequent occasion that I appear before an adjudicator in a hearing of a legal matter.

Chris Budgell


The Honourable Austin F. Cullen, Associate Chief Justice, B.C. Supreme Court

The Honourable Shirley Bond, B.C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General

Geoffrey Cowper, Q.C.

Justice Bauman's Reply
June 5, 2012

Mr. Chris Budgell
(address deleted)

Dear Mr. Budgell:

Re: Your recent correspondence with the Supreme Court

I am a Law Officer for the B.C. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Bauman has asked me to respond to your letter of April 10, 2012.

The Assignment of cases before the Supreme Court to no particular judges is part of the role of the Chief Justice. A variety of factors go to scheduling decisions, and some matters (such as cases involving in-custody accused persons or urgent family law disputes) may take scheduling priority over other matters. At any given time, some of the judges of the court will be available to sit; others may be off rota (not sitting) because they are on vacation, at judicial education conferences, ill, or otherwise unavailable.

Your suggestion that judges are assigned to particular matters on the basis they will be favourably disposed to the interests of a particular party to a litigation is simply wrong.

Yours truly,
(original copy signed)
K.J. Leacock
Superior Court Law Officer

Note to Readers:

An original copy of the above letter arrived as a file attachment. We have no doubt whatsoever of its authenticity. The problem arises transferring it into CyberSmokeBlog's image archive which we were unable to do trying a couple different formats.

Therefore, it was impossible to reproduce the original letterhead which displayed the Coat of Arms of the British Columbia Supreme Court and bore the address, The Law Courts 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C. Also, we could not duplicate Mr. Leacock's original signature that appeared on the document


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