Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Douglas Inquiry: Testimony Day 2!

Good Day Readers:

Sorry Folks for the delay but we were doing some online planning for our exciting new series, The Delichte File!

We spent the day incredulous as Independent Counsel Team Pratte-Crain examined star witness Alex Chapman. Why? Because if someone dropped you into the courtroom so you didn't know what was happening you would have sworn a defence team was shredding their client.

Ms Crain took the lead causing us to wonder, as the omnipotent Independent Counsel is it not her mandate to present a witness who can help make their case in the best possible light and leaving the shredding to Team Block-Reynolds ACJ Douglas' taxpayer financed lawyers? Is it not the I Cs objective to try to get a finding of professional misconduct so the Inquiry Committee will have no alternative but to remove Lori Douglas from the Bench? You'd never know it from what we saw!

Ms Cher Hazen a single parent and CyberSmokeBlog both sought intervener standing but were denied by the Inquiry Committee in its infinite wisdom. In the case of the former, she began her Family Division custody fight in July of 2000 which to this day is still ongoing. Although some of our arguments differed given divergent circumstances, if there was a common theme it was my God you need citizen oversight.

To this very day there is confusion and a lack of clarity over the role of Independent Counsel. At least for CSB that was painfully evident. Had we intervener standing we'd have been on our feet to tell the Inquiry Counsel to rein in Independent Counsel. "Whoa, whoa you're going about it back asswards.in your examination of Mr. Chapman.

During the afternoon session Sheila Block had at Mr. Chapman.Comparing notes with a veteran independent lawyer observing proceedings we both agreed Alex Chapman deserved a B for his overall performance. He is expected to complete his testimony tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.

1.0 Is the Lori Douglas Inquiry the Tip of the Iceberg

As we studied Ms Hazen's file and more recently Karyn Delichte versus Brendan Rogers, no doubt there are many other lengthy child custody cases, we noticed certain common denominators:

- Motion decisions by multiple Masters

- Several Justices being cycled through the life of the file

- Changes of lawyers for one or both sides

- One side having to become a self-rep as the litigation dragged on

This lead us to wonder about case continuity? Then we read a June 8, 2012 article in an Australian newspaper that began:

That there is a crisis in the administration and performance of the Family Court is known to all those who administer, practice or litigate in that court.

Is a top down bottom up independent review of Queen's Bench Family Division long overdue? Will the Lori Douglas Inquiry merely scratch the surface of a much, much larger problem?

2.0 Future Testimony

We would like to thank Inquiry Counsel George Macintosh for kindly making available the list of the next four witnesses. He has always been most helpful and assisted us to the extent possible.:

(i) P. Michael Sinclair, Q. C., Managing Partner Thompson Dorfman Sweatman

When Alex Chapman blew the whistle on Jack King Mr. Sinclair became the point person for TDS's damage control effort. He compelled Mr. King to inform Lori Douglas about what he'd done both of whom were working for the firm at the time.

(ii) Jack King

What can anyone say, everyone's favourite!

(iii) Ian Histed

Negotiated Alex Chapman's $25,000 secret payment by Jack King

(iv) Marc Monnin

Former Queen's Bench Chief Justice. Was on the Selection Committee that made the fateful recommendation to the Federal Justice Minister to give Lori Douglas a judgeship

A total of 14 witnesses will be called meaning 9 still remain to be heard after Marc Monnin

3.0 Hand Held Devices in the Courtroom

Mainstream media at the start of the Inquiry were required to sign a consent from. Four times yesterday Alex Chapman was asked to leave the courtroom while both sides argued legal points related to his examination by Kirsten Crain. That's as far as we can go.

Like a trial, nothing can be reported once a jury has been excused. Ditto when Alex Chapman was absent from the courtroom. To do otherwise would probably earn you a Big Fat citation for contempt of Court. Chief Justice Fraser on each occasion asked reporters to turn off their devices.

At one point we asked Mr. Macintosh as a Media Citizen Journalist/Blog Master would we be allowed to use a hand held device had we made the request to which he replied, "yes." Had it been otherwise we were quite prepared to challenge the Canadian Judicial Counsel. Either change your position or we'll file a discrimination complaint against the CJC with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. We're not Philadelphia lawyer but smart enough to know our chances of winning would be pretty good. The Council does not need that kind of negative publicity.

4.0 Like a Bat out of Hell

During a break in the proceedings Monday afternoon we were engaged in conversation with a couple of ladies in the hallway outside the courtroom which is not very wide. Directly across from us stood Alex Chapman who was peripheral to our conversation at best. Can't even remember what was being discussed.

Anyway, one of the ladies said something to Mr. Chapman when suddenly like a bat out of hell "swoosh" Sheila Block swooped out of the courtroom to warn her she was in violation of a court order not to speak to a witness who is in the midst of their testimony.
Later we asked Mr. Galati about that and, yes, you should not even say, "hello" or "nice day" or "go to hell" to a witness who has not completed their testimony. Makes sense, While covering trials at The Law Courts we'd see jury members in the hallway or outside the building but would never even acknowledge their presence.

Today Chief Justice Fraser reminded the public gallery of that fact.

It is our considered opinion much more needs to be done by The Canadian Judicial Council in its interface with the layperson public. Why not hand out a list of does and don't to those like us who have never attended an inquiry. Don't forget Council not everyone is a lawyer thank God!

5.0 "Rocky"

Finally, a special thank you to Mr. Rocco "Rocky" Galati Counsel to Alex Chapman who has been most kind, generous and patient during breaks answering our many, many questions pertaining to points of law. It is our observation he is more than holding his own in exchanges with Team Pratte-Crain and Block Reynolds. He's good he's very good! Mr. Chapman is indeed fortunate to have him!


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