Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yet another inquiry delay could cause taxpayers 'irreparable financial harm!'

Good Day Readers:

With this latest delay the Douglas Inquiry has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous and now far beyond the asinine. Ever notice ne're a word (or rarely) is spoken about the cost to taxpayers. So let's do some Public Accounting 101.

Visit the webpage of The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada where it's all laid out (Remuneration, as well as, Allowance and Benefits links):


According to The Judges Act, which seems to govern these matters, Lori Douglas as Associate Chief Justice Queen's Bench Family Division should have an annual salary of $315,900 plus benefits and allowances. Since this is, after all, Public Accounting 101 let's (with rounding) make her yearly package worth say an even $350,000.

During mid-July of 2010 Alex Chapman filed a sexual-harassment and intimidation complaint against Lori Douglas with the Canadian Judicial Council. Within a matter of days Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal publicly announced Ms Douglas had decided to step down from the Bench while the allegations were being investigated and would be assigned other duties. These were never specified. Media reports have suggested she has been receiving her full salary and presumably benefits and allowances. To the best of CyberSmokeBlog's understanding, C J Joyal has never particularized this situation.

So fast forward to today (August 2010-mid July 2013) or 36 1/2 months later x $29,167 monthly taxpayer package. That's a cool $1.06 million. But it just gets better.

Using the mid-point of Professor Busby's estimate of 1-2 years for the Inquiry to re-start plus another 6-months for possible appeals adds 24-months for a whopping $700,000 bringing the grand total to a $1.76 million taxpayer package. Also, keep in mind Jack King continues to practice family law with Winnipeg's Petersen King. It shouldn't be necessary to hold a public tag day anytime soon for Team Douglas-King.

And what about this? Years down the road when the Canadian Judicial Inquiry finally finishes imploding all over itself Lori Douglas announces she's going to retire. Who couldn't afford to with those kinds of numbers.

Irreparable Harm?

Could it not be argued that has already occurred? If ACJ Douglas were to remain on the Bench would you want to have her preside over your case or would you move to have her recuse herself? There's already a case in Ontario last year (controversial real estate transaction - conflict of interest) in which counsel for a litigant asked the Judge to step aside. He refused so a successful appeal was filed and the Judge was gone at least from that trial.

Clare L. Pieuk.
Court rules inquiry into judge's nude photos could cause 'irreparable harm'

By Chinta Puxley
Monday, July 15, 2013
Jack King leaves the Federal Court Building in Winnipeg after taking the stand, Monday, July 23, 2012. (The Canadian Press/Trevor Hagan)

WINNIPEG -- A Federal Court justice has ruled that a disciplinary hearing into the conduct of a Manitoba judge whose nude photos ended up on the Internet could cause "irreparable harm" unless it is put on hold.

The Canadian Judicial Council hearing into Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas has dragged on for three years and was supposed to resume this summer.

Justice Judith Snider said salacious details about the case could arise at the inquiry and damage the judge's reputation unless the hearing is put on hold pending a judicial review. The review is to determine whether the council's panel of five judges is biased against Douglas.

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Alex Chapman leaves the Federad Court Building after testifying at an inquiry into Lori Douglas, a Court of Queen's Bench Justice in Winnipeg on Monday, July 16, 2012. (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press)

Alex Chapman leaves the Federal Court Building after testifying at an inquiry into Lori Douglas, a Court of Queen's Bench justice in Winnipeg on Monday, July 16, 2012. (Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press)

"In my view, the applicant has demonstrated that irreparable harm to her personal and professional reputation will result if the court declines to grant a stay," Snider wrote in a ruling released late Friday.

"Irreparable harm is harm that cannot be quantified in monetary terms or which cannot be remedied by damages."

Douglas's good reputation is closely connected to "the concept of human dignity underlying all charter rights," said Snider, who pointed out that more embarrassing details could come to light if the inquiry resumed as scheduled.

"I emphasize that this case implicates the disclosure of intimate and personal information in the context of a public inquiry which has been the subject of significant publicity," Snider wrote.

"The applicant raises the possibility that very personal information may be revealed through witnesses and that she herself may have to testify. Hence, the sensitive nature of the personal information which may be disclosed if the proceedings are permitted to continue supports a finding of irreparable harm."

Calls to the Canadian Judicial Council were not immediately returned.

The saga began three years ago when Alex Chapman filed a complaint with the council accusing Douglas of sexual harassment. Chapman alleged the judge's husband, Winnipeg lawyer Jack King, sent him nude photos of his wife and wanted Chapman to have sex with her.

King was representing Chapman in a divorce case at the time. Chapman complained to King's law firm and King settled the matter within weeks by paying Chapman $25,000 to return all the photos and to never discuss the matter.

The inquiry, which has been mired in procedural delays and court challenges, is also supposed to examine whether Douglas failed to disclose the matter when she was appointed a judge in 2005 and whether the very existence of the photos should disqualify her from continuing as a judge.

Douglas, who rose to become associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, has denied all the allegations. Both she and King have said he acted alone without her knowledge and was suffering from depression at the time. Douglas is on paid leave and she is still married to King.

Her lawyers and the former independent lawyer leading the inquiry both accused the council of bias and asked the Federal Court almost a year ago to stay the disciplinary hearing.

Karen Busby, professor with the University of Manitoba's faculty of law, said the inquiry is likely to be delayed at least a year, if not two. It will take months for the judicial council to determine the potential of bias and then there is a window for appeals, she said.

Once that concludes, the inquiry would have to get running again and that could take another year, Busby said.

"There is always a harm in delay. There is psychological harm. You've got something hanging over your head and you can't get on with your life," she said. "There is danger in that, but from Douglas's perspective, the greater danger was to have a hearing go ahead before a biased panel."


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