Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Canadian Judicial Council's "Public" Inquiry on a fast track to nowhere?

Born in Toronto, Ontario. Education at Carleton University, and University of Calgary. Called to the Bar of Alberta, 1982.  Partner at Code Hunter, 1987 to 1992. General Counsel for the National Energy Board from 1992 to 1995, member from 1995 to 2002, and Vice-Chairman from 1999 to 2002.  Appointed Judge of the Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division and Member ex officio of the Appeal Division, October 10, 2002.  Since July 2, 2003, the date of the coming into force of the Courts Administration Service Act, she is now Judge of the Federal Court. Address: Federal Court, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H9.
Lori Douglas hearing stayed, due to sexy details
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas (Winnipeg Sun Files)

Even more salacious details of Justice Lori Douglas' love life could emerge if a public inquiry into her conduct continues, a federal court judge said Friday, as she ordered a stay to the proceedings.

Preventing more harm to Douglas' public image, plus allegations of bias and mounting public costs were the reasons cited by Justice Judith Snider when she stayed a federal hearing into sexual harassment allegations levelled against the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice.

Now delayed indefinitely, the inquiry was tasked with determining whether Douglas was guilty of sexual harassment in a highly publicized case that has unfolded over the past three years and includes sordid sexual details involving Douglas' husband, lawyer Jack King, and Alex Chapman. It could go to the Supreme Court or be dismissed, once the larger Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) hearing resumes, potentially in September.

Douglas' lawyers argued that July 2012 hearings against Douglas were biased, after the CJC refused to share details of why lead lawyer Guy Pratte resigned from the inquiry. Douglas' lawyers suggested it might be related to other indications of bias, such as "allegedly adversarial conduct" of pro-Douglas witnesses and alleged limits placed on cross-examination of Alex Chapman.

Snider wrote that "the strength of the allegation of bias is a relevant factor," but not serious enough on its own to merit the stay.

She also found, however, that Douglas has already suffered harm to her personal reputation, and ruled in favour of Douglas' complaint that "irreparable harm to her personal and professional reputation will result if the Court declines to grant a stay." Douglas' lawyers argued that even more "very personal information" would come out as the inquiry continued, and she might have been forced to testify. The "significant publicity" of the case was also a factor in the decision to stay.

Additionally, Snider found that continuing the hearing "would amount to a waste of public resources, [ ... ] particularly true in light of the amount of money already spent and the fact that new Independent Counsel wishes all witnesses to testify again," after the bias allegations.

The inquiry is funded publicly and no one was ordered to pay for costs resulting from the stay.

In July 2011 the Canadian Judicial Council announced it was launching an inquiry into Douglas' conduct a year after details emerged her husband King, instigated a plan to coax his client, Chapman, into having sex with Douglas.

Chapman, who had been represented by King in a divorce case, filed a complaint in August 2010 accusing Douglas of sexual harassment, alleging he received nude photos of Douglas from her husband, who was attempting to arrange a sexual encounter between the two.

During a stay in the CJC hearing, which last met in July 2012, the federal court was tasked with providing a report on whether Douglas should be removed from office.

Although King admitted to giving Chapman the photos, Douglas has denied any knowledge of the scheme.

Douglas has been on paid leave since 2010.

Timeline of a Scandal

August 31, 2010: Alex Chapman accuses lawyer Jack King of harassing him to have sex with his wife, Lori Douglas, an associate chief judge in the Court of Queen's Bench. Chapman alleged King urged him to visit a website devoted to linking white women with black men for sex. Chapman also claims King e-mailed him numerous nude pictures of Douglas. Chapman was eventually paid $25,000 and signed a confidentiality agreement which included a promise to destroy all correspondence and pictures he received from King. But Chapman didn't destroy the pictures and e-mails and in July filed a complaint with the Manitoba Law Society and the Canadian Judicial Council.

September 1, 2010: Chapman files a $7-million lawsuit against Douglas, a $10-million lawsuit against King and a $50-million lawsuit against the couple's former law firm. On the same day, Douglas asks to be temporarily relieved of her duties as judge.

September 21, 2010: Douglas files a statement of defence arguing the lawsuit against her should be thrown out.

September 22, 2010: Chapman drops the $7-million lawsuit against Douglas.

October 26, 2010: Chapman drops the $50-million lawsuit.

March 28, 2011: King pleads guilty before a Law Society disciplinary panel to three counts of professional misconduct, which included sexual harassment of a client.

July 5, 2011: The Canadian Judicial Council announces it will conduct an inquiry that could end in Douglas' removal from the bench.

May 19, 2012: Chapman makes an emotional plea to a CJC panel, asking for help finding a lawyer for him as it probes the matter.

June 14, 2012: Douglas fires back in documents filed with the Canadian Judicial Council. "Right thinking people do not conclude that a woman who has been victimized by her husband is to blame for her husband's conduct and, accordingly, lacks integrity and is not suitable to sit as a judge," Douglas said. "If a judge can be disqualified through the malicious actions of a disgruntled litigant or the disreputable conduct of a spouse, when the judge is innocent of any wrongdoing, there is a serious threat to judicial independence."

June 25, 2012: Hearing begins.

July 27, 2012: Hearing delayed.

August 20, 2012: Federal court begins hearing Attorney General of Canada vs. Lori Douglas.

August 27, 2012: Lead lawyer Guy Pratte resigns as independent counsel for the judicial inquiry.

November 27, 2012: Chapman back in court fighting a court order that he repay $25,000 he received to keep quiet about sex allegations.

May 15, 2013: Chapman denied respondent status in federal case.

June 2013: CJC gets intervenor status in federal case; motion for a stay is heard and eventually approved.

September 2013: CJC hearing could resume

Lori Douglas — order stay


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