Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Like the senate the Canadian Judicial Council's business model is broken!

What took you so long?
Good Day Readers:

It took the Douglas Inquiry to show what just about everyone has known for some time - the CJC is using a broken business model.

It remains to be seen whether, like the unmitigated disaster the Inquiry has become, the review also will be of lawyers, by lawyers and especially for lawyers. Will those who have know for a very long time the CJC is broken (layperson complainants/contributors/intervenors), that is to say those who must use the system, be allowed to present their written submissions directly before a review panel? Are Canadian taxpayers "stakeholders?"

Failing to do so is a good way to ensure another Douglas Inquiry ..... Part Two.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
CJC to review how discipline process works
By Cristin Schmitz
September 6, 2013 Issue

The Canadian Judicial Council is poised to reform the discipline process for Canada’s 1,000 federally appointed judges, the CJC chair confirms.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin told The Lawyers Weekly that the council of 39 chief justices will decide at its September meeting in Ottawa whether to study, evaluate and, if necessary, reform the CJC’s discipline procedures from the initial intake of complaints against judges to the ultimate outcome.

“This is a systemic review that any organization that’s responsible would carry on from time to time,” the chief justice said at a press conference at the Canadian Bar Association’s annual meeting here August 17.

She anticipated that the review, which would include consultations with stakeholders, could take “at least” a year. “We want to make sure that we’re dealing with these problems as expeditiously and as effectively as we can,” Justice McLachlin said. “We haven’t yet identified any particular things that would necessarily be changed. It’s a generalized review.”

The chief justice told reporters the council’s initiative was not sparked by the slow pace and high costs of the stalled CJC inquiry into the conduct of Manitoba Queen’s Bench (Family Division) Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas.

Since last year, Justice Douglas has been under review by a five-person inquiry committee in respect of a 2010 complaint lodged against her by Alex Chapman, a former client of her husband. Chapman alleges that before Justice Douglas became a judge she participated in her husband’s admitted sexual harassment, a charge both the judge and her husband deny.

Last month news leaked out that the judge is now also facing a separate CJC investigation into her expense claims, following a complaint earlier this year by Manitoba Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal.

A cryptic CJC news release August 20 says “this includes questions about the use of a ‘representational allowance’ by Associate Chief Justice Douglas.” As an associate chief justice, she is entitled to a $10,000-per-annum representational allowance.

The CJC said the chief justice’s complaint is under review by the vice-chair of the CJC’s judicial conduct committee, who will decide whether to dismiss it or take further action.

“The complaint is without merit,” responded the judge’s counsel, Sheila Block of Toronto’s Torys, in an August 20 written statement.

Block said the questioned expenses were for “medically-prescribed therapies” totaling $6,400 over four years. In addition, the judge expensed four economy airfare trips to Toronto to see her counsel in the CJC proceedings. All those expenses were claimed under the judge’s representational allowance, and all were approved by the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs and were related to the fallout from the CJC inquiry, Block said.

“The $6,400 for medically prescribed treatments related directly to the stress of the CJC proceedings, including the distribution to her peers of intimate pictures of the judge. This distribution, which has caused great stress, was against her will and over her vigorous objection to the CJC.”

Block also pointed out that three-quarters of the $6,400 in expenses were pre-approved by the commissioner before they were submitted. “All of the expenses were approved on proper documentation.”
Block said the judge contacted the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs after Chief Justice Joyal complained to ask whether the commissioner had any concerns about expenses he had previously approved. “She volunteered to repay any expenses about which he might have a retrospective concern. The commissioner said none of the expenses needed to be repaid” as they were incurred under existing policies, and were properly approved and reimbursed, Block said.

Going forward, the commissioner told the judge to claim travel expenses necessary to see her counsel through her law firm (to be billed by Torys as a disbursement), rather than under her representational allowance.

Block said Chief Justice Joyal “was advised of those facts before he filed his complaint.”

She added, “The Chief Justice has no role in, or access to, another judge’s expenses. It is entirely a matter between the judge and the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.”

The Winnipeg Free Press reported last month that the existence of Chief Justice Joyal’s complaint was disclosed by an anonymous source in early July via an untraceable e-mail remailer service.

Justice Douglas is still collecting her $315,900 annual salary but has not sat on a case since September 2010, after Chapman’s sexual harassment complaint to the CJC in July of that year became public. Chief Justice Joyal took away her administrative duties in February 2011.

The judge also faces allegations before the inquiry that she deliberately changed a relevant diary entry and misled independent counsel to the inquiry about it; and that the sexually explicit photos of her that her husband circulated on the Internet so undermine her image as a judge that she can no longer do her job and should be removed from the bench. The judge denies any wrongdoing. She and her husband both say he victimized her, without her knowledge or consent.

The inquiry remains on hold as the Federal Court reviews the judge’s application to shut the inquiry down for allegedly displaying bias against her.

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