Sunday, June 03, 2012

VJH is Number One!

Good Day Readers:

Over the years CyberSmokeBlog has had many, many contributors who have been integral to the success of this site. Oh for sure, they have come and gone but there has been no one quite like VJH ((Veritas Honor Justitia). His contribution has been nothing short of outstanding, superb whatever the words!

When we began blogging 12-years ago this month, before the term had been invented, we learned a valuable time saving technique from a reader in British Columbia which we encourage those who correspond with us regularly to adopt. After a while the correspondence string will take on the appearance of a Christmas tree - when you run out of colours it's time to start another string.

So Readers and VJH follow the blue.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

Postscript

Hope the ACJ Douglas Riview Panel and Counsel take the time to read this!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post, "Found him!"

Dear Mr. Pieuk,

Again, I apologize for the delay however, this working two jobs is taking a toll. Soon, I hope, this will end and I can simply enjoy my new business and time with my bride.

Hopefully, you'll be able to leave the salt mine - soon!

With regard to your questions, indeed, counsel for the aberrant Douglas is correct. Pursuant to sections 63(5) and (6) of The Judges Act: Prohibition of information relating to an Inquiry:

(5) The Council may prohibit the publication of any information or documents placed before it in connection with, or arising out of, an inquiry or investigation under this section when it is of the opinion that the publication is not in the public interest.

Lest we not forget, the Inquiry's credibility and the public's confidence in the system will be on the line. Engage in too much in-camera (public excluded from attending) and .....

Marginal note: Inquiries may be public or private

(6) An inquiry or investigation under this section may be held in public or in private, unless the Minister requires that it be held in public.

We already may have a hint of what to expect in Team Block-Reynolds (Counsel to ACJ Douglas) reply to CyberSmokeBlog's request for intervenor status. In a letter dated May 9, 2012 at page 2 it states in part:

"We are confident that the Inquiry Committee understands that its proceedings are not identical to the court system.. The Judges Act provides that an inquiry or investigation may be held in public or private. The CJC Inquiries and Investigations By-laws permit all or any part of an hearing to be held in private if the Inquiry Committee determines that the public interest and the due administration of justice so requires."

CyberSmokeBlog would respectfully submit it's in the Federal Minister of Juistice's best interests that, to the extent possible, the Inquiry be held in public. Since Queen's Bench Justices are appointed federally are you listening Mr. Rob Nicholson? Thank God Vic "Warrantless Internet Searches" Toews is not directly involved otherwise everything would be behind closed doors!

These sections are repeated in Regulation SOR/2002-371.

My argument at this point would be to the Minister. The Review Panel determined a Public Inquiry was necessary. Indeed, the public has seen and heard potentially MORE than the Inquiry Review Panel has seen.

Completely, agree. Laypersons are not stupid au contraire.

As a member of the public, this material has been in the public arena for 2 years now, and to require “in-camera” presentation of that information is to deem the public in need of protection and, therefore, redundant. The horse left the barn ages ago and shutting the door now only reinforces public opinion that Judges are a protected sect of society whose transgressions are to be hidden away. It is BECAUSE the public has seen this material and questions Douglas’ integrity that this Inquiry is taking place, to now “protect” the public from viewing or hearing about her conduct would be an insult to the public’s intelligence.

Protecting us? Ha! 
Maybe it's them who need the protecting. Well over a year ago CSB received a copy of an e-mail sent by a fellow Blogger, a criminal defence lawyer, who operates under a pseudonym because they have often been critical of the legal system. They had not opened it but we did to satisfy ourselves it wasn't a hoax - it wasn't!

It carried an anonymous Shaw address (that is, a meaningless name) and contained 4-links. Follow the instructions provided and voila! - 30 completely unredacted photographs of Associate Chief Douglas. They also showed up on the immensely popular American Blog Above the Law (New York City-based hosted by a Harvard Law School graduate). Only difference? It covered the private parts with little red maple leafs. How fitting!

With regard to your question about Douglas’ legal fees and expenses being paid by the taxpayers pursuant to The Judges Act, I cannot find any section that specifically states a judge under inquiry is entitled to payment of legal fees. Nor can I find anything in the regulations associated with The Judges Act that relates to payment of legal fees for a judge under inquiry. However, under The Inquiries Act:

11. (1) The commissioners, whether appointed under Part I or under Part II, may, if authorized by the commission issued in the case, engage the services of:

(a) such accountants, engineers, technical advisers or other experts, clerks, reporters and assistants as they deem necessary or advisable; and

(b) counsel to aid and assist the commissioners in an inquiry.

12. The commissioners may allow any person whose conduct is being investigated under this Act, and shall allow any person against whom any charge is made in the course of an investigation, to be represented by counsel. R.S., c. I-13, s. 12.


These two sections provide the Inquiry the power to engage counsel. "Engage" in this context meaning hire, and which by definition provides for payment of fees, expenses, etc. However, there are guidelines for cost submissions (as noted by the Chair – page 49, lines 5-9) according to the Department of Justice. Those guidelines state that where Civil Legal Services cannot provide Counsel due to lack of specialization, creates a conflict of interest for the government, is more cost-effective, or is so large that CLS cannot provide services; outside Counsel may be retained and paid for by the Department of Justice. (Source: Civil Legal Services Annual Report 2009/2010, page 9)

 It is interesting to note that CLS provides for an hourly rate of $158 per hour (09/10), unfortunately I cannot find an amount for 2012. This implies to me, that any fee costs above that amount are to be borne by the client.

How may of our readers make $158 per hour do you VJH? Dare say we few - it's nothing to sneeze at! The current amount is probably even higher today. Interesting n'est pas how they look after their own - like a Big club!

After the pre-Inquiry meeting of May 19, 2012 Mr. Norman Sabourin, Executive Director, Senior Legal Counsel to the Canadian Judicial Council, held a bilingual media scrum in the courtroom. With all due respect to Monsieur Sabourin, we did not get the answers for which CyberSmokeblog was looking - something about there's a body above the CJC that makes those kinds of decisions - can't remember its name it matters not. Thank God for VJH - again!

Shortly after posing those questions we were approached by a mainstream reporter who has been covering this story from the get go. They claimed their organization had researched the matter and, yes, ACJ Douglas'a legal fees were being paid from the start by the Inquiry - legalspeak for taxpayers. If true, and we have no reason to think otherwise, thank you very much taxpayers!

Now, your final question regarding the reporting of costs incurred by the Inquiry and whether or not there is a requirement for same. There is nothing in The Judges Act that pertains to the reporting of the cost of the complaint/inquiry/hearing process. Similarly, there is nothing in The Inquiries Act either. However, I have determined that pursuant to The Access to Information Act obtaining full particulars of the costs of outside counsel by the Department of Justice can and have been obtained in relation to particular proceedings.

Perfectos VJH!
If the Inquiry will not release that information to the taxpaying public CyberSmokeBlog will invest the measly $5 application fee and file an Access to Information request then post it on the internet for the world to see.

I tend to agree that the distinctive lack of a layperson on the Committee and/or with intervener status does not engender the public’s faith in the process. Until such time as we (society) stop having professions govern themselves, we will not have a truly independent rendering of public perception and confidence. We allow professions to govern themselves because it is the profession that is impacted by negative conduct, through use of said same services by the public.

In this case, having considered that the public is represented, can one man, whose profession implies a conflict of interest, honestly present the views of society? Is there not a desire, nay an instinct, for self-preservation and protection of past or potential personal conduct that may result in perhaps, not presenting the full context of the public’s perception? Where is John Q. Public’s voice in the Inquiry process? Will there be a witness list that includes average citizens who speak to their confidence in the judiciary?

While it would be a monumental task, failure to have non-judiciary and non-lawyers involved in the process of deciding public confidence, is, in my opinion, a contradiction of public interest, perception and confidence. For without the public voicing its opinion, the opinion is that of the profession, who most certainly, has a conflict of interest in protecting its own.

A true Public Inquiry is one that hears from the public, like governmental committee hearings where any person who feels they wish to speak, may come forward and be heard. Every person in Manitoba, and in fact the country itself, will be “touched” by this decision, due to its far reaching implications. This decision will provide precedent in terms of the impact of personal conduct on professional behaviours, not just for the judiciary, but for all public professions. I fail to see how one man can adequately represent those views when he has a bias to protect himself.

I hope I have been of assistance, look forward to your submissions on intervener status and am hopeful for your success. I am reminded of a quote:

“It's terrible when the one who does the judging judges things all wrong.” - Sophocles

In the meantime, I remain,

Veritas Justitia Honoris

Beautifully said VJH couldn't have done any better! Without the public's direct involvement where's the civilian oversight? It may not sound like it at times but we have a great deal of respect for Independent Counsel Mr. Guy Pratte he's a very good lawyer.

However, in his letter to us dated May 9, 2012 at page 5 he states in part:

"Mr. Pieuk does not allege a substantial and direct interest in this investigation. There is no suggestion that he may be adversely affected by the outcome of the investigation. He does not allege that he brings any clearly ascertainable interests or perspectives' essential to the Committee's mandate. There is nothing to distinguish his request from similar requests that might be made by any other media organization. Further, Independent Counsel is mandated to perform his duties impartially and in accordance with the public interest: there is no need or justification for Mr. Pieuk to play a similar role."

With all due respect to Mr. Pratte doesn't that sound "a tad" ballsy to you VJH? Does that not suggest there's no such thing as prosecutorial misconduct either inadvertently or otherwise? Is the business model the Inquiry will use as presently constituted broken/flawed much like that of law societies whereby the investigator(s) are lawyers, so too the prosecutor and finally the judge. Is that perhaps why they're called the world's most powerful trade union?

We wish we could share more with you VJH and our readership but suffice it to say for now there are some very interesting developments quietly happening behind-the-scenes. It would not be in our best interest to go public at this time ..... hopefully, some day.

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