Sunday, June 23, 2013

"No ____ Ms Blatchford!"

Good Day Readers:

In response to Ms Blatchford's article there are several points CyberSmokeBlog would like to offer:

(1) The Canadian Judicial Council is on the public record as saying prior to going to an expensive taxpayer  public inquiry that could be protracted, it meets with legal representative(s), presumably including the Justice whose conduct is under scrutiny, to ascertain whether a mutually satisfactory settlement can be achieved

Did this happen in Lori Douglas' case and if so what was the outcome? Taxpayers will likely never know unless, of course, an insider with specific knowledge at some point decides to go public with a kiss and tell book. Therefore, it can only be reasonably assumed the pre-Inquiry negotations ended in failure. In other words, Ms Douglas did have an option to avoid a full blown inquiry

(2) "Given that standard, what's happened to Justice Douglas is nothing less than disgraceful."

But is it? Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal has been less than candid with taxpayers on Ms  Douglas' financial status since she stopped hearing cases (Was it her decision or someone else's?). The public was told she had been reassigned to "administrative duties" which were never specified. Was she being compensated at her full salary of $319,900 plus medical plan, pension, as well as, other benefits .....?

"Waiting rooms of hell?" Hardly! "Firmly in limbo?" Who amongst us wouldn't like to be in the waiting rooms of hell firmly in limbo with the possibility of that kind of compensation?

Fast forward to the Inquiry last July when the now duly departed Independent Counsel Guy Pratte discussed the fourth allegation against Associate Chief Justice Douglas. According to testimony Mr. Pratte contacted her about what appeared to be an inconsistency in her personal diary several entries of which (some redacted) were subsequently posted on the CJC website.

Lead defence counsel Sheila Block quickly jumped to her feet at the time to criticize Mr. Pratte for contacting her at home while she was on sick leave. Apparently, somewhere in all this she transitioned from administrative duties to sick leave. Further, were there not at least three members of Lori Douglas' publicly financed legal team all from Torys in Toronto? What about Sarah Whitmore who has filed at least one affidavit to date plus a young gentleman with a laptop who sat at the defence table - perhaps an articling student?

(3) Yet to be heard in the Federal Court of Canada is another motion by Sheila Block to quash the Inquiry or, in other words, stop it dead in its tracks because of an apprehension of bias. According to University of Manitoba law professor Karen Busby who has been closely following the Inquiry the standard of proof for "apprehensions" is very high

As part of this application she is also seeking to bar Inquiry Counsel George Macintosh (Vancouver) from cross-examining any of the remaining witnesses. Remember how masterful his cross was especially of Jack King, as well as, Senior Managing Partner Michael Sinclair of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman who at the time was the firm's point man for damage control?

(4) Was Mr. Macintosh not able to elicit from Mr. King the fact that he had borrowed the $25,000 from his wife Lori Douglas to pay Alex Chapman and his lawyer Ian Histed? Did this not occur at a time when Ms Douglas was applying a second time for a judgeship? She ultimately successed on her third try

(5) And what about that personal diary entry dated July 5, 2005 alluding to the fact she'd written a large cheque although no amount or the reason were specified. When was the confidentiality agreement involving Mr. Chapman and his solicitor concluded?

(6) After receiving a retainer, why did Guy Pratte, "..... a most principled man ....." refuse to release to the media and ultimately taxpayers the reason(s) for his sudden departure? Why has The Council not published his resignation letter in its entirety on its website? Why has Rocco Galati counsel to Alex Chapman had to file a motion in the Federal Court of Canada to try to force publication of this document?

(7) "Yet here we are, almost three years later, with the inquiry slated to resume in September ....."  To the best of CyberSmokeBlog's knowledge there has been no official dates announced for resumption of the Inquiry. From where did this information come?

(8) "But it ignores the fact that judges are entitled to not just the same sort of justice given citizens but rather to the highest procedual fairness in the land because of the value that in our democaracy is placed on their independence - from politics, form government, from everything."   

Well, perhaps therein lies the problem. Like Senators it's virtually impossible to get rid of a lousy one.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

Postscript

But please don't get too, too discouraged because of the time the Inquiry is taking Ms Blatchford. IF it  were to recommend to Parliament that Ms Douglas be removed from the Bench would this not be appealable in the Federal Court of Canada? Should the relief ACJ Douglas and her defence team were seeking still not be forthcoming then couldn't the Supreme Court of Canada be petitioned all at taxpayer expense?

Grind on Canadian Judicial Council grind on it's only taxpayer dollars!

Here's what you should be asking. Why hasn't a transcript of witness testimony thus far not been placed on the Canadian Judicial Council's webpage long before now?
Christie Blatchford: Manitoba judge's biased inquiry into nude photos grinds on

By Christie Blatchford
Friday, June 21, 2013
Lori Douglas and Jack King (Handout: John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press/Files)

I suppose there’s a measure of what in the modern world might be considered tit-for-tat equity in the magnificently messed up and ludicrously delayed proceedings involving Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas.

That view might go like this: As justice is painfully slow to arrive for ordinary folk in this country, it’s only fitting that it is also glacial to come for judges themselves.

But it ignores the fact that judges are entitled to not just the same sort of justice given citizens, but rather to the highest procedural fairness in the land because of the value that in our democracy is placed on their independence — from politics, from government, from everything.

In other words, it’s meant to be difficult to remove a judge from the bench, and it ought to be similarly difficult to dispatch one to the waiting rooms of hell.

Given that standard, what’s happened to Judge Douglas is nothing less than disgraceful.

Related

Christie Blatchford: Inquiry into Manitoba judge’s sex scandal stuck in limbo — along with her career

Christie Blatchford: Manitoba judge’s accuser no sexual wallflower, but inquiry astonishingly refused to hear about it

Man at centre of Manitoba naked judge case was an online sex performer: lawyer

Christie Blatchford: Lawyer quits nude judge inquiry after disagreement over questions

You may recall that she first agreed to stop hearing cases and sitting in court in September of 2010, this in the wake of a CBC-led media firestorm over sexual pictures of her that were posted years earlier to a hard-core website by her husband, Jack King.
Complainant Alex Chapman outside court on June 26, 2012. (David Lipnowski for National Post)
Judge Douglas has always denied knowing what Mr. King was doing, while in the midst of a mental breakdown, with their bedroom pictures, and there is considerable evidence on the record from the stalled hearings to support what she says.

Yet here we are, almost three years later, with the inquiry slated to resume this September, the very impartiality of the inquiry panel impugned and still very much undecided, and Judge Douglas firmly in limbo.

As a reminder, it was in the summer of 2003 that a man named Alexander Chapman, a former client of Mr. King’s and a fellow suspicious and litigious by nature, had a lawyer send a demand letter for $100,000 to Mr. King’s firm.

Mr. Chapman claimed he’d been sexually harassed and, as a black man, humiliated by Mr. King. He had emails and pictures, from the website where Mr. King directed him, to prove it.

Mr. King eventually paid him $25,000 in exchange for his signature on a confidentiality agreement and a promise to destroy all the pictures.

Judge Douglas, who was then a lawyer at the same firm as her husband, was never alleged to have had any part of all this.

The story didn’t become public then, but it was well-known among the local bar, even by judges. But Judge Douglas, or lawyer Douglas as she was then, was widely seen as having been victimized by Mr. King. He was asked to resign from the firm, and did so, spending a year being treated for depression.

She stayed at the firm, and two years later was appointed a judge, four years after that being named as Associate Chief Justice.

In the late summer of 2010, Mr. Chapman re-surfaced, this time at the CBC and the Canadian Judicial Council, where he filed a complaint alleging the judge had been a part of it.

Two years after that, the inquiry committee, composed of three judges and two lawyers, began hearings in Winnipeg.

Judge Douglas faced four allegations of wrongdoing, chiefly that she participated in her husband’s sexual harassment of Mr. Chapman and that she’d failed to disclose this in her application for the bench.

(In fact, as testimony revealed, the chair of the appointments committee knew all about the mess and he said he told the others.)

Should the panel appeal, the costs — to the administration of justice and to the judge in exile — will only rise

The hearings fell apart about the end of July last year.

When it adjourned, Judge Douglas’s lawyers were alleging the panel was biased against her, and within weeks, no fewer than three parties had filed separate applications for judicial review in the Federal Court.

One of them, unusually, was from Guy Pratte, the so-called “independent counsel” to the committee and a most principled man.

He had been long at loggerheads with the panel over what his role ought to be and, really, over the fairness of the process to the judge.

A week later, Mr. Pratte abruptly resigned.

He has said nothing publicly since, but his distress is on the record.

In their application for judicial review, meantime, Judge Douglas’s lawyers, Sheila Block and Molly Reynolds, sought a finding that the panel’s conduct of the hearings “gives rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias” — in other words, that the hearing isn’t fair to the judge.

But when that process dragged on and the committee revealed this April that it was determined to resume the hearings (with a new “independent counsel,” who wants to start from scratch), the judge’s lawyers then applied to stop them — to stay the hearings, in other words, until the judicial review has been heard.

It seems pretty straightforward to this non-lawyer brain: The committee is alleged to be biased against Judge Douglas and the issue hasn’t been heard in court yet, so how can the same committee just press on with more hearings?

Then, surely showing it is rather invested in its view of its own purity, the committee applied for intervenor status in the stay application itself.

That, at least, was dispensed with this month by Madam Prothonotary Mireille Tabib (a prothonotary is a judicial official, akin to a judge), who denied the committee standing.

She ruled that since the panel’s “impartiality is directly at issue … if it is perceived to be defending its decisions or taking an adversarial position” toward the judge, the public may perceive it as, well, biased.

(To this, I would say, no s—, Sherlock.)

And the bill keeps growing. As Judge Douglas’s lawyers note in their filings, as of March 2012, before the hearings were held, the legal tab alone was $1,035,758.

Should the panel appeal the prothonotary’s ruling, the costs — actual, to the administration of justice and to the judge in exile — will only rise.

Postmedia News
blatchford@postmedia.com
Christie Blatchford was born in Quebec, studied journalism at Ryerson University and has written for all four Toronto-based newspapers. She has won a National Newspaper Award for column writing and in 2008 won the Governor-General’s Literary Award in non-fiction for her book Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army.

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