Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Douglas Inquiry Update: Did the Federal Court of Canada and Canadian Judicial Council violate the Charter?

Good Day Readers:

A special thank you to CyberSmokeBlog west coast contributor Chris Budgell (cjbudgell@gmail.com) who sent us the link to this article under the subject line: And meanwhile at Chaos Headquarters ..... along with the comments, The Lori Douglas debacle continues. Sounds like the final scene from a few of my favourite movies. To which we'd add and on Halloween no less!

Mr. Budgell is a layperson legal researcher par excellence so much so our in-house moniker for him is "Mr. Google."

CSB is of the view, the way today's hearing was held raises serious Constitutional and Charter issues, thus, shortly it will be writing to Inquiry Counsel Mr. George Macintosh. The correspondence will be posted, as well as, any response received by the site.
We have had several past dealings with George Macintosh both online and off. You may recall this site's application for citizen intervener standing was turned down. Realistically, unless you are the complainant(s) your chances of being successful are zero and none.While at the Inquiry per se he has always been a gentleman in responding to questions during breaks. Enjoy talking with individuals who were around prior to the advent of the computer.

Please stay tuned.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

Inquiry into Manitoba judge's sex scandal stuck in legal limbo
By Christie Blatchford, Postmedia News
October 31, 3012

The federal inquiry into the conduct of Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas is mired in a procedural bog.

That sad truth became undeniable Tuesday as no fewer than 16 lawyers, including some representing the inquiry panel itself and the Canadian Judicial Council that ordered the hearing, took part in a conference call in the Federal Court of Canada before Madam Prothonotary Mireille Tabib.

A prothonotary is a judicial official, akin to a judge, in the Federal Court.

This one had her hands full.

Among the hornet's nest of motions before her was one for one organization (the Attorney General of Canada) to be removed as a respondent to other motions, one for another party (the original complainant who kick-started the whole business) to be added as a respondent and one (from the Superior Courts Judges Association) to be added as an intervener.

It was akin to hearing a joke - a bad one - about lawyers. Question: "How many lawyers does it take to skin a cat?" Answer: "Sixteen, one to do the skinning, 10 to argue if the cat is a victim or a party or a respondent, and five to debate the merits."

The hearing itself, only the ninth in the history of the CJC, was examining allegations that nine years ago, before she was named to the bench and as the lawyer she then was, Douglas participated in husband Jack King's sexual harassment of his then client Alex Chapman.

In 2002-03, King had posted intimate pictures of her on a hard-core website and tried to entice Chapman into having a sexual relationship with her; Douglas has always vigorously denied she had any idea what her husband was doing with their private pictures.

Back then, Chapman threatened to sue King and his law firm, settled the complaint for a $25,000 payout and signed a confidentiality agreement.

But in 2010, Chapman broke the agreement, took his allegations public via the CBC, and expanded them to include Douglas in a formal complaint to the CJC.

The inquiry was the result. The panel, composed of three judges and two lawyers and headed by Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, began hearing evidence last summer.

The inquiry adjourned, amid heated allegations from Douglas's lawyers that the panel was biased against her, at the end of July when it ran out of scheduled days.

There was optimistic discussion that it might resume this fall.

But in the weeks that followed, the hearing was embroiled in a huge battle over its very integrity, or what some parties allege is the lack of it.

In short order, no fewer than three parties had filed separate applications for judicial review in the Federal Court.

All challenged the panel's impartiality, but the most astonishing one was from Guy Pratte, the panel's so-called "independent counsel," who asked the high court to find the panel had directed its own lawyer, commission counsel George Macintosh, to be too aggressive in his questioning of select witnesses.
Exactly a week later, Pratte abruptly resigned.

The CJC has refused to release his lengthy resignation letter, even to lawyers at the inquiry.

Since then, allegations have also surfaced that not only did the panel urge Macintosh to be too aggressive with witnesses whose evidence was favourable to Douglas, but also that it simultaneously tried to protect Chapman from too-harsh questioning.

As well, new motions have surfaced.

Chapman's lawyer, Rocco Galati, wants his client recognized as a full party at the inquiry. The federal attorney general, named as a respondent in the judicial review applications, wants off the record and for the CJC to be the named respondent, which the lawyers for the CJC oppose. The judges association wants to be added an as intervener.

Meanwhile, of course, Douglas remains in Winnipeg, unable to sit or work, her future in limbo.

Motions resume in Toronto on November 30.

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