Friday, September 14, 2012

CyberSmokeblog went to law school too .....

Good Day Readers:

Not going to comment upon Mr. Chapman's "performance" yesterday because to do so would be akin to carrying coals to Newcastle. However, we did have an extended conversation afterward part of which we'll be able to share - more later.

To begin. Professors Busby and Asper, and those who ably assisted them, are to be commended on this initiative. Hopefully, there will be others focusing on legal issues of public interest. Oh for sure a few glitches were apparent but practice will make perfect.

After an overview presentation, law students were given preference during the Question and Answer session which was as it should be. CyberSmokeBlog came prepared with a list of written comments/questions but fully anticipated it might not have an opportunity to present. A tad disappointed but certainly not heartbroken.

CSB enjoyed a luxury many who attended did not. It has attended every minute of every session of the Inquiry. Alright, alright ..... occasionally missed a few minutes here and there when we needed to pee but they were quick ones! Then again so would you had you listened to the testimony of certain witnesses - "I can't recall" or "I have no recollection" or "I don't know" or "I don't remember or ..... ad nauseam.

The Questions

1. If the new Independent Counsel (once appointed) re-files their predecessor's (Guy "The Cat" Pratte) application before The Federal Court of Canada to strike from the record all Inquiry Counsel George Macintosh's cross-examination of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman Senior Managing Partner Michael Sinclair, as well as, Jack King's, would it be held ex parte (that is, the opposing side is not represented) and where - Winnipeg?

Assuming it is not ex parte:

(a) Could Inquiry Committee Member(s) and/or Mr. Macintosh be subpoenaed to testify? Presumably, Counsel for Lori Douglas would be permitted to make written and oral arguments

Note: Mr. Pratte's original application also requested George Macintosh not be allowed to cross-examine any further witnesses. Counsel for both sides previously agreed on a list of 14. When the Inquiry adjourned indefinitely (Friday, July 27, 2012), four and a half had been heard. The fifth had not completed her testimony so will be re-called once the Inquiry reconvenes.

2. Mr. Macintosh's cross-examinations were a work of art the most masterful and skillful CyberSmokeBlog has yet observed in its coverage of several trials in both Manitoba Courts.

In his questioning of Mr. King he was able to get placed on the record:

(a) At the time Alex Chapman submitted his complaint to TDS, both Lori Douglas and Jack King worked in the firm's Family Law Division

(b) More importantly, ACJ Douglas loaned her husband the $25,000 ultimately paid to Mr. Chapman via his lawyer at the time Ian Histed (shared equally)

(c) Mr. King subsequently repaid the loan

(d) Most important. At the time the loan was made, Ms Douglas was in the process of applying for a judgeship a second time. She succeeded on her third attempt

Should former Independent Counsel Guy Pratte have used this information as the basis of a fifth Notice of Allegation against Lori Douglas? Why did he choose otherwise?

Note: Based on a written account made at the time by CSB. Since the Canadian Judicial Council has yet to post the official transcript on its webpage, we were able to third-party verify our accuracy with a lawyer not involved with the Inquiry who also took notes. Presumably, transcripts will be available once all witnesses have testified.

3. If Defence Counsel were to appeal (Federal Court) the Inquiry's final recommendation to Parliament for removal of Lori Douglas from the Bench, would taxpayers be liable for these legal costs?

4. Assuming the FCC upheld a recommendation for removal, could its decision be challenged in The Supreme Court of Canada? (Update: Professor Busby offered that was possible). Depending on the timeline, if this were to happen conceivably the SCC could be petitioned to overturn a parliamentary order.

5. At what point did taxpayers assume liability for ACJ Douglas' Inquiry legal costs - when it was formally announced?

6. What are the public financial disclosure requirements of a Canadian Judicial Council Inquiry? How much detail is it required to provide?

So as you can see we didn't want for questions.

The Handshake
After the session had occasion to chat with Professor Asper for a few minutes before he had to leave to deliver a lecture. A very gracious person with a firm handshake that projected/radiated sincerity.

He wisely reminded students when applying for articling positions they too will be required to complete an application one of the questions of which will be, "Is there anything in your past that could bring disrepute to the organization?" or words to that effect. To which we'd add, "In this digital age, do you really think it judicious to have quasi-semi nude, fall down drunk photographs smoking a big fat joint posted on social media sites?

The Student

Upon completion, the Moot Court (a large lecture hall configured at the front to approximate a courtroom) was divided in two. Noticed students entering both sides so asked which course and professor would be lecturing. One bright eyed, shiny faced student married to his laptop computer couldn't remember the lecturer's name so left him with a smile on his face and the advice, "If you would like an A in this course always remember two rules:

(1) Never forget the professor's name
(2) Laugh at all their jokes funny or not

To which we'd now add a third:

(3) The professor is always right

The Conversation

Had occasion to chat at length with Alex Chapman after his "performance" much of which cannot be disclosed at this time save to say he is engaged in further litigation. However, the Golden Rule is CyberSmokeBlog will not publish any legal document(s) until it/they have been registered and filed with the courts at which time it becomes public domain information.

However, Mr. Chapman has e-mailed documents from Lori Douglas' divorce. CSB has chosen  not to reproduce them verbatim because they have no social redeeming value. Besides, it was non-contentious. She filed a Petition for Divorce in December of 1997. Divorce Judgment was issued in February of 1998. Ms Douglas was represented by Thompson Dorfman Sweatman's Andrew Swann the Respondent a self-rep.

As an aside, from the Douglas Inquiry at the time of the Chapman complaint Lori Douglas, Jack King, Andrew Swan and Connie Petersen formed TDS's Family Law Division. Mr. Swan, of course, has gone on to become the province's current Justice Minister while Ms Petersen and Jack King now practice under Petersen King.

Alex Chapman's account of how he obtained access to the file, if accurate, raises a few interesting questions. After a couple attempts and delays, he was given photocopies of certain documents which have recently been electronically transferred to CyberSmokeBlog.

The procedure for accessing a Queen's Bench File:

(1) Complete a simple application on site (date, name, address, telephone number)
(2) Produce one piece of photo identification
(3) Pay the $5 access fee

after which the entire file is surrendered and the recipient free to photocopy any or all documents.

Why was this standard operating procedure not followed with Mr. Chapman's request? Speaking hypothetically, of course, is this not tantamount to a form of censorship?

Even more interesting was certain information was redacted such as Ms Douglas' address, the birth date of her son, the address of property held jointly, etc. There was no indication when, who or why this information had been blackened. The Respondent's address was not removed.

As a sidebar, a couple years ago CSB examined a divorce file for a well-known Winnipeg lawyer who has been practicing for over 30-years. No information was redacted, and if you can believe it, there was the solicitor's complete tax return for 1998. My God, talk about identity theft made easy! Why on earth did the attorney not ask that this document be sealed? Further, the complete file was surrendered not photocopies.

We rest our case ..... for now.

Clare L. Pieuk
Chapman goes to law school
Repeatedly interrupted U of M forum
Friday, September 14, 2012

Alex Chapman attends a U of M forum (Joe Bryksa/Winnipeg Free Press)

Alex Chapman forgot to bring his company manners and indoor voice to school Thursday.

The belligerent attention-seeker repeatedly interrupted a University of Manitoba law school forum held so students could discuss what effect the Canadian Judicial Inquiry into Justice Lori Douglas's behaviour could have on their careers.

At one point, Chapman accused ethics Professor David Asper of slander. He claimed law Professor Karen Busby was lying. Despite repeated efforts to get the meeting back on track and the microphone returned so students could ask questions, Chapman continued.

"I am the victim here," he said vehemently.

Chapman was accompanied by two acolytes, one of whom attends the CJI inquiry devotedly. She informed the captive audience her three children had been taken away because of a female judge's decision. It didn't appear Lori Douglas was the judge, but she had plenty of opinions about her.

Before the open meeting, Asper said in an email he wanted to know whether students and faculty think the inquiry is the appropriate way to resolve the issues.

Those issues include the existence of graphic photos of Douglas taken by her husband, Jack King, and later put online by him. King was Chapman's divorce lawyer.

The latter claims King tried to get him to have sex with Douglas, that he emailed him the lewd photos and that he and the judge met twice. On one occasion, he claims, there was "touching."

In 2003, after threatening to make photos of Douglas public, he accepted a $25,000 cheque from King to shut up and go away. He'd been asking for $100,000.

Seven years later, he returned to sue the couple and their law firm for $67 million.

But on Thursday, Chapman denied his complaint had anything to do with the graphic photos of Douglas King sent him.

"I don't care about the photos," he said loudly.

He cared plenty in 2003 when he cashed King's cheque and he cared in 2010 when he released the photos to the media, unleashing the scandal. Douglas is on the CJI hot seat not just because of the photos and the allegation she knew King was trying to set up a threesome with Chapman.

When Douglas completed a personal history form as part of her application to be a judge, she checked "no" to a question asking if there was anything in her past that could negatively affect herself or the judiciary.

Douglas's job is on the line.

Chapman's reputation as a loose cannon is well-established. Last month, he tussled with Queen's Bench Justice Donald Bryk. Chapman was ordered to pay back King's $25,000 because he breached their confidentially agreement. He was also ordered to pay $7,500 in legal fees to King. He was in court because he hadn't paid up.

In a story by Free Press justice reporter Mike McIntyre, Chapman claimed his civil rights were being violated because he'd fired his lawyer and didn't have a new one. When Bryk refused to delay the proceedings, Chapman got lippy.

"You're abusing your authority. I am asking you to recuse yourself," McIntyre reported Chapman shouted at the judge. The judge offered to cite him for contempt of court and have him arrested. Chapman ponied up that afternoon.

The law students got an education Thursday, both from their professors and from Chapman. Busby said not only is Douglas's livelihood at stake, so is her "constitutional right" to tenure. Asper asked rhetorically if answering affirmatively to a question about skeletons in the closet would doom a judicial applicant.

The students' questions were perceptive. Why do the Douglas and Phoenix Sinclair inquiries seem like circuses? How will this process affect future judges? What are the limits for lawyers in discussing cases?

When Chapman paused for breath, Asper offered the meeting's epigram. We should probably lead our lives with the belief what is private will remain so. If you assume everyone will know your secrets, he said, you'll never leave the house.

Chapman, the self-portrayed victim of the day, finally had nothing to add. He was probably just out of breath. It's unlikely he learned anything at law school.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 14, 2012 B1


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