Sunday, November 30, 2014

A CyberSmokeBlog judicial fashion advisory: If you're appearing before a judge don't wear anything with stripes - don't give them any ideas!

Decoding Jian Ghomeshi's courtroom appearance

A defence attorney and image consultant weigh in

By Flannery Dean
Thursday, November 27,2014

Ghomeshi leaving the courtroom alongside his lawyer, Marie Henein, at right. (Photo/CP)

On Wednesday morning, Canadians got their first glimpse of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi as he appeared at a downtown Toronto courthouse, charged with five criminal offences, including sexual assault and choking.

His sombre exit appearance before the throng of cameras and reporters—black suit, crisp white shirt and subtly patterned dark tie—was in stark contrast to his signature behind-the-scenes rock-guy style. Absent were the leather jackets, chunky accessories and designer denim. Ghomeshi’s ubiquitous five o’clock shadow was turfed in favour of a close shave, and his adolescent mop top looked like it had been trimmed.

Ghomeshi in his default style in 2012. (Photo: Central Image Agency)

The former Q host looked like a man who was taking this particular moment in his life very seriously, says Diane Craig, a Toronto-based image consultant who often advises lawyers on how to style their clients for court (though she has had no involvement with the Ghomeshi case). “He’s done everything to look as appropriate as possible,” she says. “He didn’t want to chance it by showing up casual because maybe it would mean that he’s taking this casually. By dressing this way, he’s saying, This is business. I’m taking this seriously.”

Jag Virk, a criminal defence lawyer based in Toronto  - who has no connection to Ghomeshi’s defence - says it’s standard practice for lawyers to give their clients tips on how to present at court. The rule of thumb, he notes, is not to let your appearance detract from what you have to say. This means opting for neutral colours that send a message of respect. Virk advises clients to wear business attire at court but with the caveat of not overdoing it. A trucker needn’t wear a tie, but a professional like Ghomeshi should—particularly so given the seriousness of the charges

A courtroom sketch from Wednesday's court appearance. (Photo: CP)

However, it appears that Ghomeshi arrived at the courthouse without a tie, and also addressed the court without one. This was likely intentional, not a slip-up, says Craig: “He’s more casual and he’s trying to enhance his likability factor by being friendlier. When you’re not wearing a tie you’re more open, you’re not as protected.”

Virk says he wouldn’t have advised Ghomeshi to lose the tie for the simple fact that the seriousness of the charge merits one. But he adds that every lawyer is different when it comes to how they perceive a client’s appearance in court—or what wardrobe alterations will affect their reception.

Craig says she wouldn’t change much about Ghomeshi’s court look, which she calls “corporate.” But she says that the host’s fashion-forward bent is implied in his choice of a black suit. “In business, wearing a black or navy-blue suit usually has a more fashion-forward connotation. Those who wear a black suit in the day are usually the trendier ones.”

Virk isn’t so keen on Ghomeshi’s look, though. He tells clients to wear grey, to avoid darker shades and never to wear black: “It’s associated with the bad guy.”

Friday, November 28, 2014

Will the real Henein Hutchison LLP please stand up?

Jian Ghomeshi's lawyers look like they're straight out of an HBO drama

Jesse Ferreras
Friday, November 28, 2014

Jian Ghomeshi plans to plead not guilty to four counts of sex assault and one count of "overcoming resistance - choking" in the wake of allegations of physical violence and harassment.
His defence will be spearheaded by Marie Henein, a respected criminal lawyer who has successfully defended clients such as former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant and hockey agent David Frost.
She will defend him alongside partners Danielle Robitaille and Scott Hutchison.
As Henein enters the spotlight once more, so does her law firm,  Henein Hutchison LLP, whose lawyers look like they're straight out of an HBO miniseries in  striking photos posted on the firm's website.

An Imgur user borrowed the following photo yesterday and added their own take.

Ghomeshi next appears in court January 8.

Why few Canadians could pass the Supreme Court of Canada test and fewer likely care!

Good Day Readers:

Ever wonder how many citizens could name at least 5 out of 9 Supreme Court Justices in an off the street survey? CyberSmokeBlog dare say probably not many. Even fewer would likely care. Why? Could it possible be the vetting process is seriously flawed?

Under the current regime, a cloak of secrecy surrounds the process. Unlike the much superior American confirmation system, candidates must appear before a televised Senate Judicial Committee to be grilled (some might suggest barbecued) on contentious cases in which they were involved or their views regarding leading societal issues of the day - stem cell research, euthanasia, privacy, prostitution. abortion, terrorism laws, etc., etc., etc.

Compare that with how it's done here. Can you explain the process by which Mme Cote was appointed? Bet you can't? Or what about her record as a practicing lawyer? Ditto. Her position/views on some of the aforementioned leading societal issues. Again bet you can't. So why's that? Could it be for the Harper government secrecy equals expediency.

If your government is not going to attempt keep you better informed why should you care? So where should you go given such an obsessive-compulsive approach to judicial secrecy? Might CSB suggest the CPAC channel's Beyond Politics.

 There you can find interviews with Supreme Court Justices where they talk about a son studying wherever, a daughter who can play the piano, a family pet ad nauseam- all the information you require to make informed decisions on today's leading contentious legal contoversaries of the day..

If the Conservatives ever return to their toothless, bi-partisan parliamentary confirmation hearings tea parties, perhaps Ms Clark would agree to chair them.

Clare L. Pieuk
New appointee to Supreme Court won't face questioning from MPs

Ian MacLeod
Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lawyer Suzanne Cote appears at a provincial commission hearing on June 14, 2010, in Quebec City. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has named Cote to fill a vacancy on the bench of the Supreme Court of Canada. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The government says its new Supreme Court appointee will head directly to the bench without appearing before a parliamentary committee first for questioning.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday appointed highly respected Montreal civil trial lawyer Suzanne Côté to fill a Quebec vacancy on the court created by the departure of Justice Louis LeBel, who hits the mandatory retirement age of 75 on Sunday. Côté is Harper’s seventh Supreme Court appointment since taking office in 2006.

She also is the second female justice appointed by Harper and the ninth since the court’s first female jurist, Bertha Wilson, took her seat in 1982. Côté’s selection brings the institution back to its historic high of four women on the nine-member panel.

She’s the first woman appointed to the court directly from private practice.

Côté is described as one of the most experienced litigators in the country, with extensive expertise in civil and commercial litigation over a 34-year career. She most recently headed the Montreal litigation group at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. The legal community and Supreme Court observers praised her appointment.

Still, why has Harper chosen her? The country may never know.

The Conservative government won’t invoke its onetime practice of having Supreme Court appointees go before a televised parliamentary review committee and introduce themselves to the nation.

That review, though toothless, was the final bit of openness remaining in the secret process of selecting nine of the most important people in the country. The Conservative government in 2006 abandoned a series of transparency reforms introduced by the previous Liberal government.

Until recently, it retained the reform of requiring nominees to appear before an ad hoc committee of MPs to answer questions about their backgrounds, values and beliefs. But the government appeared to scrap that practice, too, after the Supreme Court selection fiasco that ended with the June appointment of Justice Clement Gascon.

“This doesn’t change anything; the process, regrettably, remains at this point much less transparent than what it had been,” said Liberal MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler, who spearheaded the Liberal reforms.

The secrecy in the Côté appointment is compounded by her not being elevated from a superior or appellate court. She has authored no lengthy legal judgments that might offer insights about her philosophy and outlook on the world or the perplexing issues she will face on the top court.


Q and A: Benjamin Perrin on the influence of Canada's top court
Supreme Court named policymaker of the year

On the other hand, her private-practice background may be an asset. Her fresh and extensive experience as an in-the-trenches practitioner should be a welcome addition to a bench populated by career and long-time magistrates. The last Supreme Court justices to come directly from private practice were justices John Sopinka and Ian Binnie. Both became highly influential forces.

“Clearly, she is very, very well qualified,” said Benjamin Perrin, a former legal adviser to the prime minister and now a University of British Columbia law professor.

“Most of the Supreme Court of Canada judges who practised law did so in a very different era and things have changed remarkably at the trial level in courts across the country. It’s good to have a Supreme Court judge who can bring that perspective. “

Still, “it’s a bit of risk for them, to take a chance on someone like this. You don’t know how they will perform as a judge, it’s a new job, there’s a big learning curve.”

The government wanted to avoid a repeat of the disastrous handling of the 2013 appointment of Marc Nadon. The Supreme Court Act stipulates a Quebec lawyer, or Quebec superior or appeals court judge with a knowledge of Quebec’s civil code, is eligible to fill the court’s three Quebec seats. But Nadon was a Federal Court of Appeal judge from Quebec. The Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision, found Nadon’s appointment contrary to the act and barred him.

The government also was pressured to appoint a woman. Combined with the act’s limits on eligible candidates, that meant a considerably reduced pool of potential candidates, even before any possible political or ideological considerations might be applied by Harper.

However, the government says it did seek a variety of views. That included consultations with Quebec; Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin; the Chief Justice of Quebec; the Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court; the Canadian Bar Association and the Barreau du Québec.
Suzanne Côté: At a Glance

– Originally from the Gaspésie, Côté has a law degree from the Université Laval and has lectured at the Université du Québec à Rimouski and the Université de Montréal.

– Côté has headed the Montreal litigation group at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. She is described as one of the most experienced litigators in the country, with extensive expertise in civil and commercial litigation.

– Her commercial litigation practice includes: breach of commercial contracts, representation of banks, bankruptcy and insolvency, shareholder disputes, the Competition Act, and various real estate matters including commercial leasing, manufacturer’s liability and class actions.

– She also litigates in civil and administrative matters, such as judicial reviews before the federal courts and the investigation conducted by the Québec Court of Appeal regarding the removal from office of a judge of an inferior tribunal. She has also appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada.

– Côté represented the government of Quebec at the Bastarache commission inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the nomination of municipal and provincial court judges in Quebec.

– She successfully represented Jean Pelletier, former chief of staff to prime minister Jean Chrétien, who sued Via Rail in 2007 for his “cavalier” firing as chairman of the railway. A Quebec judge ruled that the government and Via Rail must repay Pelletier $235,161.74 in lost income, plus interest, in addition to $100,000 in moral damages to be paid by the government.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Oh Jeezus not another lawyer with a stiletto obsession!

$555 to $$14,000 for a pair. How many pair do you have in your closets' ladies?

'It is not my practice to litigate my cases in the media': Who is Jian Ghomeshi's lawyer Marie Henein?

By Jen Gerson
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Marie Henein, then lawyer for Michael Bryant, leaves old City Hall and prepares to talk to media in Toronto, Ontario Monday, October 19, 2009. (Brett Gundlock/National Post Files)

Marie Henein was being hailed as a rising star in the criminal justice system well before she successfully defended former attorney general Michael Bryant on charges of criminal negligence causing death; however, her position as the most high profile criminal defence lawyer in the country has been cemented with her decision to represent disgraced CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi.

Ms. Henein’s striking visage appeared next to Mr. Ghomeshi’s on Wednesday, when the man accused with four counts of sexual assault briefly faced a scene of total media chaos outside the Toronto courthouse where he made his first appearance.

“It is not my practice to litigate my cases in the media,” she said. “We will say whatever we have to say in a court of law. We will not be making any further media statements.”
Ms. Henein, who was called to the bar in 1992, has represented an impressive array of some of Canada’s most famous and infamous clients.

Jian Ghomeshi’s full statement on the criminal charges against him told through his lawyer (video)

In addition to Mr. Bryant, who was charged in connection with the death of cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard, Ms. Henein was part of the team that defended Robert Latimer, who killed his severely disabled pre-teen daughter in the ’90s; also, Daniel Weiz, who was accused and acquitted of beating a teenager to death in a Toronto Park in 1999. Before that she aided in the defence of Gerald Regan, former Nova Scotia premier, against sexual abuse.

Records show she has a penchant for being tough on witnesses.

For example, when Ms. Henein defended hockey coach David Frost on charges of exploitation, the lawyer grilled a female witness as to why she had failed to notice a “plum-sized blood sac that appears like a third testicle” when she claims to have performed oral sex.

The witness was 16 when she said she was coerced into multiple threesome between Mr. Frost and her boyfriend, one of his players.

Mr. Frost was acquitted.

According to a Toronto Star profile published in 2003, Ms. Henein’s family immigrated from Egypt when she was 4-years-old. The lawyer attended Osgoode Hall and was described as “hardworking, dedicated and extremely tenacious,” by Ed Greenspan, whose firm hired her after she was called to the bar.

According to the article, Ms. Henein’s confidence about her cases are often reflected in her footwear; when things are going well, she opts for Manolo Blahnik stilettos. (emphasis CyberSmokeBlog)

Before she took Mr. Ghomeshi’s case, Ms. Henein raised eyebrows with an off-colour joke at a gala event where she was speaking: “As criminal lawyers we represent people who have committed heinous acts. Acts of violence. Acts of depravity. Acts of cruelty. Or as Jian Ghomeshi likes to call it, foreplay.”

Fishnets and stilettos on the Supreme Court of Canada ..... eh?

Good Day Readers:

Recently concluded Douglas Inquiry Independent Counsel Suzanne Cote, who always showed up in black wearing fishnets and stilettos, has been named as the latest appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Whatever happened to a public bi-partisan parliamentary hearing to publicly vet the nomination even though the questions/comments were trite - "my father came to Canada during the depression with only a chicken in a brown paper bag ....." Oy vey. Here, when the Harper government chooses to have a confirmation hearing it's a tea party compared to the American experience where's it's a barbecue on national television. More deja vu from the Conservative government. Taxpayers are handed the decision as a fait accompli - "shut your faces folks and pay your taxes.

Imagine had she been appointed while.the delay plagued, error filled Douglas Inquiry were still in play? That would have driven the Canadian Judicial Council nutso!

CyberSmokeBlog's nomination for the next Supreme Court Justice? Rocco Galati - "Rocco! Rocco! Rocco!" Bet you don't have the cojones to do that Stephen Harper.

With this latest appointment at least there will be a fashion statement on the highest court. Congratulations "Justice Fishnets or is it Justice Stilettos."

Clare L. Pieuk


Regarding those fishnets and stilettos, let us not forget if there was one principle in law established by the Douglas Inquiry it was that Justices can wear whatever they please under those robes.

PM picks Quebec lawyer Suzanne Cote for Supreme Court seat

Sean Fine/Justice Writer
Thursday, November 27, 2014

Quebec government lawyer Suzanne Cote is shown in Quebec City on August 30, 2010. (Mathieu Belanger/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Suzanne Côté of Montreal to the Supreme Court of Canada today, raising the complement of women back to its high-water mark of four on the nine-member court.

Ms. Côté, Mr. Harper’s seventh appointment on the nine-member court, is the first female practicing lawyer appointed in the court’s 139-year history. Male litigators appointed to the Supreme Court include Ian Binnie and John Sopinka. Ms. Côté replaces Justice Louis LeBel, a liberal-minded judge appointed by prime minister Jean Chrétien who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 on November 30.

Ms. Côté is a partner and head of the Montreal litigation practice at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP specializing in civil and commercial law.

Simon Potter, a Montreal lawyer and a former president of the Canadian Bar Association, said she will be a “strong and independent-minded judge. A battler with a mind and a will, with a strong sense of individual justice.”

McGill University law professor Robert Leckey said Ms. Côté is known as an extremely aggressive advocate.

“Some people perceived her as needlessly pugnacious during the Bastarache Commission in 2010 [on judicial appointments in Quebec] when she was lawyer for the Charest government,” Prof. Leckey said. “You probably need to take such comments with a grain of salt – some people would suggest that women are judged differently than men, starting from an assumption that women will be nicer or gentler than men. So one might at least ask whether a man acting as she did would be so quickly characterized as aggressive. Still, that would clearly be the description of her on the street, I think.”

For the second Supreme Court appointment in the past five months, Prime Minister Harper allowed for no parliamentary input in the selection. The justice department, in documents tabled in the Commons this week, said the government is rethinking the process because of a breach of confidentiality in a previous appointment. That was a reference to a Globe and Mail story last May revealing that four of six candidates on a government list for a Supreme Court vacancy last fall were from an ineligible court.

While the Conservative government has criticized judges for not deferring to Parliament on social-policy issues, and Mr. Harper has expressed a wish for law-and-order judges, Ms. Côté’s judicial philosophy is untested.

“It is striking that this is another nomination without even the somewhat perfunctory passage via the parliamentary committee,” Prof. Leckey said.

From 2004 until last fall, a parliamentary committee had winnowed the government’s list of candidates down to a short list of three, for the Prime Minister to choose from. And Mr. Harper was the first Prime Minister to put his nominees before a separate committee for a televised question-and-answer session in Parliament. That hearing, too, seems to be a dead letter, based on the justice department documents tabled this week in response to questions from Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.

The appointment of Ms. Côté, after three previous appointments from Quebec of men, may help Mr. Harper avoid controversy in Quebec City in an election year, although it departs from a tradition that one of the three Quebec judges on the Supreme Court come from Quebec City. The appointment puts to rest the notion that Mr. Harper would appoint Justice Robert Mainville, which could have led to a challenge at the Supreme Court much like the one last year in which Mr. Harper’s choice, Justice Marc Nadon of the Federal Court of Appeal, was ruled ineligible by the Supreme Court in a 6-1 vote.

The court went 10 months with just eight judges until Mr. Harper named Clément Gascon as his replacement. Justice Mainville was, like Justice Nadon, on the Federal Court of Appeal, but the government attempted to move him to the Quebec Court of Appeal last spring. Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati, who challenged the Nadon appointment, also filed a lawsuit against the Mainville appointment, and a hearing at the Quebec Court of Appeal on its legality is to be held in December.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mcintyre versus Mansbridge versus McDonald versus Ghomeshi

The ultimate fall from grace ,,,,, bye, bye for you Jian Ghomeshi!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The Douglas Deal" ..... how's your pension doing taxpayers, that is, if you can even afford one?

Dear CyberSmokeBlog:

On reading the CJC's terse announcement I was wondering how they would justify paying her until her date of "early retirement" unless she starts hearing cases again.

Looks like they've engineered an answer by saying the inquiry is not really concluded, but merely "adjourned," which I guess puts her in a kind of suspended animation.

... cb

Dear cb ...

Thank you for contacting CyberSmokeBlog. You have raised some interesting points. Why was Lori Douglas' retirement not effective at the start or end of a month as it would have been in most similar cases? More than likely because it will give her sufficient pensionable time to meet the minimum requirement for $130,000 annually.

What will she be doing between now and May 21, 2015? God only knows. She has been on full administrative leave since August 2010 during which time she has not set foot in a courtroom. One can only assume she's been at home tending to her tomato patch or perhaps sharpening pencils for the other Justices.

And you're right this is an "engineered" settlement.

The alacrity with which the Canadian Judicial Council accepted "The Deal" suggests it couldn't wait to get the huge monkey off it's back that the Douglas Inquiry has been - an unmitigated public relations disaster. Its complaints procedures and business model under which it's currently labouring has been exposed as totally inadequate prompting it to finally seek public input.

Is the Inquiry Panel required to seek ratification of the deal from the full CJC membership? Don't know. Here's another flaw. When the Canadian Senators were initially suspended they were allowed to accumulate pensionable time. After the public raised its voice the federal Treasury Board was forced to backtrack to introduce legislation in the March 2014 Omnibus Budget Bill that put an end to this practice.

Look at the Douglas case. She's been accumulating pensionable time since 2014 yet hasn't done one iota of work for the Crown and ultimately taxpayers but will be compensated as though she had. Like Senators, federally appointed Judges and Justices also work for the Crown. Without this 4-years of unearned pensionable time she would not qualify for her very, very generous "minimum" pension.

Legislation needs to be introduced that immediately ends such unearned public benefits.

"The Douglas Deal" is yet another in a long line of examples that explains why the Canadian Judicial Council is widely viewed as judges protecting judges; judges judging judges. It's public inquiries are for lawyers, by lawyers and of lawyers. Where's the independent public oversight?

Is Alex Chapman Poised To Become Canada's Next Best Selling Author?

This morning on CBC Winnipeg Radio, never at a loss for words Alex Chapman (who spoke up when no one else would) was interviewed. Apparently he's writing a book. Should be interesting although it won't be a picture book. He best begin proofreading his material and using a spell check - that or hire a ghost writer.

Clare L. Pieuk

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Canadian Judicial Council would be out of it's collective mind not to accept the deal!

Good Day Readers:

Had a notice from the CJC the hearing will reconvene at 2:15 today.

The Canadian Judicial Council really has no choice but to accept the deal otherwise it risks dragging on this sordid affair even longer at taxpayer expense.

Suppose the Inquiry went to its natural conclusion. Only two conclusions would have been possible. She remain on the bench or she not. If the former the House of Commons and the Senate would have had to ratify the decision. so what do they do send her back and give her an office next to Vic Toews pretending none of this happened? If that happened can you imagine the outcry from women and their advocacy groups. Vote to remove her from the bench and the Canadian Judicial Council could have breathed much easier.

The Inquiry has been a huge embarrassment for the Council on a few levels. Beyond the time and public cost it has consumed, it has painfully shown the inadequacies in the CJC complaints discipline procedures, as sell as, the severely flawed way federal judges are appointed in Canada.

Right about now the boys and girls in the inner sanctum of The Council must be heaving a huge collective sigh of relief.- "Thank you Lori Douglas for letting us off the hook." And so ends another sordid chapter in the annals of Canadian jurisprudence but there'll be others..

Clare L Pieuk
Lori Douglas judge in nude photos case, offers deal to retire

Monday, November 24, 2014

Senior Manitoba Judge Lori Douglas has proposed a deal to retire, just ahead of a hearing into whether she should be kicked off the bench over nude photos of her that appeared on the internet.

Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, said the agreement was struck with theCanadian Judicial Council (CJC) to stay the proceedings in return for Douglas to retire in May 2015.

The three-person panel hearing the case in Winnipeg still has to approve the proposed settlement. A decision is expected Monday afternoon.

Lori Douglas case to start anew with sex photos off-limits
Lori Douglas wins temporary ban on nude photos at disciplinary hearing

The complaint against Douglas, an associate chief justice, arose after her now-late husband, Jack King, took graphic photos of her — some of which depict bondage — and posted them on an internet site without her knowledge or permission in 2003.

Douglas faces allegations that she failed to disclose the photos whenshe applied to become a judge in 2004 and that the pictures could undermine public confidence in the justice system.

The panel had set aside 10 days for the hearing, which was expected to receive testimony from 23 witnesses. Douglas's lawyers had fought for a ban on the use of graphic sex photographs during the hearing.

Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled in their favour on Friday, raising questions about how the hearing would proceed without photos central to the allegations against her .

The following is the statement read by Sheila Block to the CJC panel:

Rising to ask you to stay this hearing so that a settlement agreed to by the Canadian judicial Council with ACJ Lori Douglas can bring an end to the proceedings and all the many court related processes that are ongoing or will arise if the matter continues.

Here are the terms of the settlement the two parties, CJC and ACJDouglas, have agreed upon [for] the cessation of the hearing by way of a stay. ACJ Douglas will submit her notice electing early retirement as of May 21, 2015. It is signed and in the hands of the committee for judicial affairs and will be sent to the minister immediately on the settlement. ACJ Douglas will be given back by the CJC all the photos it possessed and distributed to anyone through the CJC so she may destroy them.

CJC states it respects her decision to elect early retirement. CJC will respect this committee's decision to stay the proceedings to facilitate the resolution. The CJC states that there is no public interest in further expanding public funds for ongoing proceedings when the judge is retiring in that time frame. It also agrees there is no public interest in pursuing the various options before the federal courts and ACJ Douglas agrees as does the CJC to discontinue these various actions once the retirement takes effect and no further funds or judicial resources will be expensed in the meantime.

The CJC states that no conclusions should be drawn about the merits of the allegations against ACJ Douglas or about the merits of any of the issues before the courts. When the CJC says it respects ACJ Douglas' decision to elect to retire it has been advised of her reasons. For her part in the trauma of the past four years has taken a grave toll on her, on her family, those who have stood by her.

On a personal level she has been devastated by the death of her mother and her husband during this. Even though she loved being a judge and considered it an honour and privilege to serve she is at the point where this is the best choice for her, for her son and elderly father, for her late husband's children and the rest of her family.

To withstand more weeks of hearing into intensely private matters and risk the viewing of her intimate images by colleagues and others is more than she can bear. So she is voluntarily giving up her constitutionally secure tenure at her right to use this process to fight for that and for her vindication in the process. It is common ground that the proceedings before the courts which are connected to this case will not be completed by the early retirement date and accordingly a great deal of public resources both funds and judicial resources will be saved in the public interest by this consentual resolution with the CJC.

The CJC in assessing this resolution and agreed to it is of course regulated required to act in the public interest that is its mandate both the CJC and the judge agree this should be resolved and that this resolution is in the public interest.

With files from The Canadian Press

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Douglas Inquiry: Money no object Inquiry poised to sink deeper into the quagmire!

The Douglas Inquiry re-victimizing another taxpayer!

Good Day Readers:

With the Douglas Inquiry about to resume on Monday (November 24) you really have to give your head a good shake.


In July of 2010 Complainant Alex Chapman went to the Law Society of Manitoba to complain about the actions of his then lawyer the late Jack King and Mr. King's wife Lori Douglas both lawyers for Winnipeg BigLaw Thompson Dorfman Sweatman at the time. The following month Ms Douglas went on administrative leave presumably at full pay of close to $300,000 annually plus a benefits package that for federally appointed Judges can only be described as "extremely generous" - no one from Queen's Bench Manitoba has yet disputed those fact.

Next you have her publicly financed legal bills which must be starting to approach $2 million by now with no end in sight. But then there are all the other costs associated with a public Inquiry. The cost of an Acting Associate Chief Justice to replace Ms Douglas while she stays at home tending her tomato patch, Independent Council's legal fees; travel costs for the Inquiry Panel and witnesses, translation and transcription services, and on and on it goes ..... How many millions do you figure the total public cost of this sideshow will be - $5 million, $10 million? For what?

So what will the Douglas Inquiry have demonstrated for taxpayers once it's over? Just how seriously flawed the appointment process is for federal judges and how it's damn near impossible to get rid of one who may be seriously wanting

Re-victimization of whom by whom?

To add insult to injury for taxpayers, you now have Team Douglas claiming that to allow the Inquiry Committee to view the pictures would be re-victimizing their client even though only a very few individuals directly associated with the Inquiry would be allowed to view them. That's re-victimization? And BTW, CyberSmokeBlog has seen the photographs and they're nothing to write home about. Trust it you don't want to see them. It's the taxpayers who are paying the Inquiry's costs who are constantly getting re-victimized.

And while still on the subject of victimization, aren't those ladies who find themselves in shelters for woman who have been verbally and/or physically abused the real victims? Imagine what the money being ....ed away on the Inquiry could accomplish if it were channeled into better support services for these woman who really need it. You need to get your priorities straight Douglas Inquiry.

It's really quite amazing woman and their advocacy groups aren't out rioting in the streets against Team Douglas' characterization of their client' "re-victimization."


In this the age of digitization it is nothing short of shocking Lori Douglas did not have the presence of mind to refuse  to pose for the pictures. Pose on your head if that's what turns you on but don't allow it to be digitized!

Look at the case of Manitoba Queen's Bench Justice Vic "You either stand with the child pornographers or the government" Toews. The hacker group Anonymous still have half a dozen or so YouTube videos on the internet that contain some rather embarrassing, unflattering allegations if they are to be believed. Makes you wonder how he was ever appointed a federal judge.

Clare L. Pieuk
Lori Douglas case to start anew with sex photos off-limits

Manitoba judge says photos were taken by her husband and posted online without her consent

Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press
Sunday, November 23, 2014

Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas won a temporary ban on the use of graphic photographs taken of her from being used at her disciplinary hearing. (CBC)

A second hearing into whether a senior Manitoba judge should be kicked off the bench is finally set to start in Winnipeg on Monday but sex photos central to the allegations against her will be off-limits — at least for the time being.

Lori Douglas wins temporary ban on nude photos at disciplinary hearing

Block sex photos ahead of disciplinary hearing, Lori Douglas's lawyer asks court

The three-person panel of the Canadian Judicial Council had wanted to view the images of Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas but her lawyers won an 11th-hour stay of that decision on Friday.

In ordering the stay, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley stressed it would be up to another hearing to decide whether the images should be permanently sealed. That judicial review is slated to happen Dec. 9 in Ottawa.

"(Douglas) points to the emerging social consensus in Canada that intimate images should not be disclosed or disseminated against the will of the persons they depict, unless it is absolutely necessary," Mosley said in written reasons.

"If the stay is refused and (Douglas) subsequently succeeds on the merits of her application for judicial review, the court will have condoned unnecessary disclosure of such images."

Douglas faces three allegations:
The photographs could be seen as "inherently contrary to the image and concept of integrity" of the judiciary and undermine public confidence in the justice system;
Douglas failed to disclose information about the pictures when she applied to become a judge in 2004;
She altered her personal diary after learning the council was probing her conduct.

The committee has set aside 10 days for the Winnipeg hearing. It expects testimony from 23 witnesses. It's not clear how its inability to view the images might affect the proceedings.

This is the second panel to hear the case.

The first hearings collapsed after a few weeks in 2012 amid accusations levelled by Douglas that the five-judge committee was biased against her. The committee's independent counsel resigned, followed by the resignation of the panel itself a year ago.

Committee 'almost fell from their chairs' over judge's nude photos: lawyer

The issue of bias became part of a legal fight currently headed to appeal after Federal Court ruled there was none.

The Canadian Judicial Council — essentially comprising the country's chief and associate chief Superior Court justices — has drawn scathing criticism for its handling of the case, especially its contention that it does not answer to the courts.

That issue is also headed to appeal after Federal Court firmly rejected that notion.

In March, the council appointed a new panel, comprising two male judges and a female lawyer. Also appointed was a female lawyer to act as independent counsel to the panel.

The complaint against Douglas arose after her now-late husband, Jack King, took photos of her and posted them on the Internet without her knowledge or permission in 2003.

King would later describe his behaviour as "bizarre, ridiculous, stupid, self-indulgent, grotesque."

Years later, King's client Alexander Chapman again posted the images on the Internet in violation of an agreement to return or destroy them.

The current committee dropped an allegation that Douglas had sexually harassed Chapman.

Douglas's lawyers have argued passionately the proceedings have only served to revictimize a woman already victimized by the non-consensual distribution of the intimate photographs, an act the federal government is seeking to criminalize.

Lori Douglas, celeb Jennifer Lawrence both nude photo victims: lawyer

"This was classic revenge porn," lawyer Sheila Block told Mosley in Toronto last week. "Suppose the judge was raped and somebody put it on YouTube?"

The judicial council could recommend Douglas's removal from the bench but only Parliament can fire her.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quote of the day .....

Legendary American essayist, political commentator, historian and all round iconic writer when asked a few years ago his greatest accomplishment, "I haven't murdered anyone yet."

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Douglas Inquiry: "Join hands and form a circle boys and girls .....Here we go around the taxpayer mulberry bush again, the mulberry bush ..... "

'Nude' judge wins temporary ban of sex photos at disciplinary hearing

Colin Perkel
Friday, Nlovember 21, 2014

TORONTO - A senior Manitoba judge has won a temporary 11th-hour ban on the use of graphic sex photographs taken of her from being used at her disciplinary hearing next week.

The stay will be in effect until the admissibility of the images of Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas can be determined at a later date, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled Friday.

Mosley's reasons were not immediately available.

Lawyers for Douglas had pleaded with him on Thursday to grant a stay against the decision by an inquiry committee of the Canadian Judicial Council that the photographs should become evidence.

They argued allowing use of the images, taken by her husband and posted on the Internet without her consent, would revictimize her.

Mosley also ruled that Douglas's motion for a permanent injunction against the photographs would be heard Dec. 9 in Ottawa.

The committee is slated to begin its hearings into Douglas in Winnipeg on Monday, but it was not immediately clear how the ruling would impact the schedule.

The panel's independent council, Suzanne Cote, had said a temporary stay would put the hearings themselves on hold given the central importance of the images.

The Canadian Judicial Council did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Mosley also granted Cote leave to intervene in the stay hearing, but not to appeal the court's ultimate ruling.

In court on Thursday, Douglas's lawyers made an emotional plea to permanently seal the photographs, saying the disciplinary committee, which could recommend Douglas be booted from the bench, does not need to see the photographs.

The committee already knows what the pictures are about, Block said.

"These are pictures of people having sex," the lawyer said. "They're highly prejudicial."

Douglas sought the stay after the panel ruled last month that the photographs were relevant.

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to consider these allegations without a concrete first-hand appreciation of their nature and what they depict," the panel stated.

Cote, who had opposed the requested interim stay, said the two male judges and female lawyer on the disciplinary panel needed to view the photographs given that the "main dispute" about Douglas is the "effect" of the images.

The committee did promise to keep the images out of the public record.

The photographs, some of which depict bondage, were taken by Douglas's now-late husband Jack King before she became a judge.

Block called it a classic case of "revenge porn" and said any judge could become a victim.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nice try but no cigar for you!

Good Day Readers:

Sheila Block, Head of Team Lori Douglas' three-person publicly financed defence team, is attempting to get a Federal Court of Canada Judge to grant a stay so the photographs cannot be introduced to the Inquiry Panel when it re-convenes on Monday (November 24). This is the equivalent of throwing a desperate judicial Hail Mary pass late in a football game. It's highly unlikely to succeed.

In his public comments Judge Mosley is on the public record as being prepared to convene a hearing to consider the possibility of a permanent sealing order within a couple weeks - that's got to be some kind of judicial record for alacrity! The implication is clear. The Inquiry Committee should first be allowed to see the material which is the correct decision. To do otherwise would create a major headache for a judiciary already labouring under a seriously broken business model.

Rightly or wrongly, good or bad, for better or worse it would reinforce the already widely held public perception that the judiciary is of lawyers, by lawyers and for lawyers - judges judging judges; judges protecting judges to the exclusion to the layperson, taxpaying population.

Colleagues, Dinner and Organizational Behaviour 101

When Counselor Block makes the statement, "These are people she has dinner with. These are colleagues. The Harm is tremendous." -  it needs to be closely examined. Organizational Behaviour 101 dictates as soon as an employee of an organization is even suspected of being involved in a scandal most of their "colleagues" will immediately begin to avoid them like the plague. How many of Jian Ghomeshi's or Bill Cosby's former "colleagues" do you figure remain faithful to him and still get together regularly for dinner Ms Block? The harm has long since been done and in Lori Douglas' case sadly and tragically it's likely irreversible in the minds of many.

But one example. While Ms Douglas was Associate Chief Douglas the informal chatter within the legal community was she enjoyed a good working relationship with current Chief Justice Glenn Joyal. However, bear in mind he was the one who filed the complaint last year with the Canadian Judicial Council alleging she had misspent approximately $6,000 of expense money made available by The Office of the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs Canada under the terms of a Judicial Representative Allowance Program.While Independent Counsel tried to have this added to the Notice of Allegations the Inquiry Panel refused.

Why? One can only speculate. The CJC seems to place a huge premium on protecting the integrity of the system or as judges are often heard to say, "it's paramount." Could the Panel be of the mind there's enough under Allegation (3) [Alleged Incapacity as a Result of the Public Availability of the Photos] so why risk looking petty?

Finally, perhaps another misperception exists that should be addressed. You'll notice Sheila Block states, "There's no issue these are graphic pictures" Block said. "These are pictures of people having sex." When CyberSmokeBlog anonymously received electronic instructions for accessing the completely unredacted copies of the 30 or 33 photographs (can't recall the exact number) shortly after the story broke, its best recollection is of only one that depicted sex between a man and woman but because of the camera angle those involved could not be identified.

And no, CSB did not download them it merely wanted to satisfy itself this was no hoax. It was not!

Clare L. Pieuk
Block sex photos ahead of disciplinary hearings, Lori Douglas's lawyer asks court

Colin Perkel
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Manitoba Justice Lori Douglas faces removal from the bench over nude photographs of her posted without permission on the internet by her husband. (CBC)

A disciplinary committee does not need to see graphic sex photographs of a senior Manitoba judge to decide whether she should stay on the bench, her lawyer argued Thursday.

Allowing the committee to view the pictures of Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas, released on the Internet without her consent, would only serve to revictimize her, court heard.

"They're highly prejudicial. They're not necessary for the determination of this issue," lawyer Sheila Block told Federal Court.

"These are people she has dinner with. These are colleagues. The harm is tremendous."

The committee of the Canadian Judicial Council, supported by its independent counsel, has ruled it needs to view the photographs to decide whether they are "demeaning to women" and might warrant Douglas's removal from the bench.

Judge Richard Mosley said the court could hold a hearing on permanently blocking the photographs within two weeks, but Block said that wouldn't help.

An immediate interim stay is needed, she said, because the panel is slated to begin its hearings on Monday, and the pictures would be entered as evidence right away.

"Once the bell is rung, it's over," Block told Mosley.

'At the core of the allegations,' says panel

In a ruling last month, the panel said the photographs were relevant.

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to consider these allegations without a concrete first-hand appreciation of their nature and what they depict," the panel stated.

"Such characteristics are precisely at the core of the allegations which we are charged to investigate."
In court Thursday, the committee's independent counsel, Suzanne Cote, opposed the requested interim stay, saying the effect would be to put the entire proceedings on hold indefinitely given the importance of the photographs.

"The main dispute is about the effect of these pictures," Cote told Mosley.

The case speaks to the integrity of the justice system, Cote said, and the panel needs to view the images at the outset of their hearings to make informed findings.

Block heaped scorn on that notion. The nature of the images is already well known, she said.

"There's no issue these are graphic pictures," Block said. "These are pictures of people having sex."
The photographs, some of which depict bondage, were taken by Douglas's now-late husband Jack King before she became a judge.

Douglas 'totally a victim,' says lawyer

Without telling her, he sent them to a client and put them on the Internet. The client distributed them further in 2010, despite an agreement in 2003 with King to return or destroy them.

One of the allegations is that Douglas failed to disclose that the photographs were on the Internet when she applied to become a family court judge in 2004.

Block called it a classic case of "revenge porn" and said any judge could become a victim.

"Suppose the judge was raped and somebody put it on YouTube?" Block said. "(Douglas) is totally a victim. She is entitled to the sex that she chooses to have."

Douglas is now facing potential punishment, the lawyer said, because of something nasty her husband did.

"A woman is not owned by her husband," Block said.

Mosley, who at one point noted judges are routinely required to view sensitive material, said he would likely rule on the stay motion on Friday.

When Luigi no capiches .....

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And yet another steps out of the shadows .....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Douglas Inquiry: Digitization in the bedroom

The Star Chamber

Good Day Readers:

With the recent Jian Ghomeshi scandal the focus has dramatically shifted to the subject of re-victimization and as to be expected the Lori Douglas case comes up for discussion. While the article below is well-intentioned it's lacking. To expect Ms Douglas not to be re-victimized is quite naive.

According to a senior Canadian Judicial Council official when a Judge is under investigation for alleged misconduct an attempt is made to avoid a lengthy, costly public hearing. One can only assume such was the case with Lori Douglas but for whatever reasons(s) such could not be achieved. Re-victimization is nothing new although listening to the media you'd think it were. Rape shield laws notwithstanding, how long have victims been subjected to blistering attacks by defence lawyers leaving them to feel they were the guilty party?

But the case of Lori Douglas is unique. Bill C-13 aside for a moment, she ultimately was responsible for allowing the digitization. Having seen the 30-odd photographs at no point did she appear to be even remotely under duress. quite the contrary. So what's the CJC supposed to do? Conduct a closed door Star Chamber inquiry where there's a publication ban on her name? How practical is that? How long do you think it'd be before the name leaked out? Besides, in this era when the judicial system and by association The Council are under intense public pressure for a perceived lack of transparency, soon there'd be a public outcry.

Sadly, Lori Douglas is paying a very high price for a very bad decision aided and abetted by her late husband. While on multiple occasions the Canadian Lawyer Magazine article refers to the tired argument of the state having no place in the nations's bedrooms problem is that's no longer reality in this the digital age.

As for further damage to Ms Douglas' judicial reputation that's hard to imagine unless, of course, there's still more explosive testimony to come at the Inquiry.

But if there's one abiding lesson to be learned from the Douglas Inquiry perhaps it's how severely flawed the process for selecting federal judges remains. One need look no farther than the appointment of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice (General Division) Vic Toews earlier this year..

Little wonder it's still seen as a system of judges judging judges; judges protecting judges.

Clare L. Pieuk

'Victim-blaming couched as legitimate judicial inquiry

Lori Douglas is the victim of a sexual crime: her public revictimization is just plain wrong.

By Jasmine Abkarali and Gillian Hnatiw
Monday, november 17, 2014

Like a watermelon dropped from a balcony, discussions of sexual violence against women have broken open in dramatic fashion since the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi became public.

Ghomeshi himself broke the first wave of the story when he took to Facebook to decry the CBC’s decision to terminate him — he claimed — over his adventurous sexual activities with consenting adult women, including a “jilted ex-lover.”

Initially the public was sympathetic. His supporters denounced the CBC and pre-emptively disbelieved his anonymous accusers. Even noted feminists like Elizabeth May and Sheila Copps were quick to jump to his defence, echoing Pierre Trudeau’s words that Ghomeshi’s lawyers invoked to open his $55-million claim against the CBC: “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.”

Later that day, the Toronto Star published allegations from three anonymous women about non-consensual, violent sexual behaviour. More came forward after that with two brave women going public. The room was suddenly smoky; Ghomeshi supporters fled.

The #beenrapedneverreported hashtag went viral. Women began telling their stories, many for the first time, of sexual assaults by “bad dates,” boyfriends, husbands, fathers, strangers, and friends. The statistic that only six to eight per cent of assaults are reported was suddenly made personal. There was wide-spread acknowledgement that sexual violence happens, all the time, to all kinds of women.

It became a self-evident truth that our society could do a better job of supporting and empowering victims, and encouraging reporting of sexual crimes.

Some of the stories being shared related to a form of sexual exploitation that is becoming commonplace in the digital age – revenge porn, or, more technically, the non-consensual sharing of digital sexual images.

We all know the story of #YouKnowHerName, the teenage girl from Nova Scotia who took her own life after digital images of her being sexually assaulted were shared online among her peers. We’ve heard about the hacking and sharing of celebrity nude photos, which Jennifer Lawrence rightly called a sex crime. We saw how the actress Emma Watson was threatened with a nude photo leak after delivering a stirring speech to the United Nations declaring herself a feminist and asking men to take up the cause.

The threats against Watson should put to rest any doubt that these crimes against women are not about titillation, but power, intimidation, and control.

Bill C-13, which has passed second reading in the Senate, will soon criminalize the non-consensual distribution of intimate images in Canada, thus recognizing the people in these photos are victims of sexual exploitation and violence. As the law adapts, we must acknowledge that members of the legal community are not immune to these crimes or the dangerous layers of judgment and victim-blaming that surround them.

This takes us to the Canadian Judicial Council’s inquiry into Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas. Douglas is (ostensibly) being investigated for failing to disclose in her application for judicial appointment the existence of photographs that depict her engaging in legal, consensual sex with her husband.

Prior to her application, without her knowledge or consent, her husband shared these photos online and used them to try to entice a client to have sex with her. The client complained. Her husband was fired. A settlement was reached in which all copies of the photos in the client’s possession were purportedly returned. The images were removed from the Internet. Douglas and her husband destroyed the photos in their possession. She must have thought it was over.

But it was not. After her appointment, the client resurfaced with the photos and complained to the CJC. The photos made their way back onto the Internet. Intimate images of Douglas that had been shared in a gross violation of trust were again available for consumption. The images were reposted by an American law blog that pre-empted complaints by saying that if the reader didn’t find it titillating to look at photos of a middle aged judge performing sex acts, well, don’t knock how other people get their “bliss.”

One can only conclude that Douglas is the victim in this story. Yet somehow, before the CJC, she is also the accused.

The CJC’s Committee of Inquiry is charged with considering:

(i) whether the facts related above should have been disclosed in Douglas’ application for judicial appointment; and,

(ii) whether the availability of the photos on the Internet is inherently contrary to the integrity of the judiciary and could undermine public confidence in the justice system.

Fundamentally, the CJC is asking whether Douglas’ failure to disclose that she was victimized by her husband and his client is relevant to her appointment; and whether engaging in consensual, lawful, kinky sex disqualifies her from the bench.

Put thus, the questions answer themselves.

Douglas sought an order that the photos be found inadmissible, and returned to her. Earlier this month, the committee released its decision, concluding notwithstanding the judge’s victimization, and the clear harm that further disclosure of the photos would inflict — her confidential medical information having been filed in support of the motion — it would “not be advisable not to view the photographs” because their “specific content” has a “relevant bearing” on whether Douglas is incapacitated or disabled from the due execution of her office.

The committee’s decision is premised on the flawed assumption that the content of the photos is somehow determinative of Douglas’ culpability, though it does not explain why it needs to know anything more than that the photos depict lawful, consensual sexual acts, and were disseminated without her consent. The committee’s mandate amounts to victim-blaming couched as legitimate judicial inquiry.

After drawing summary conclusions about the relevance of the images, the committee, relying on a commercial decision about the admissibility of wiretap evidence, held the public interest in a transparent process outweighs Douglas’ right to be protected against further violation.

The Committee ignored the medical and social science evidence filed by Douglas that attested to the specific harms caused by the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The notion that there is any true “public interest” in the photos harkens back to the days when a woman’s body and sexuality were matters of community concern.

To the extent the committee is occupied with Douglas’ sexual practices, perhaps Ghomeshi’s lawyers could remind them that the acts in question occurred in her bedroom, where the state has no place.

Douglas is seeking judicial review. One hopes the next panel to adjudicate the case will be alive to the challenges faced by victims of sexual violence.

For what articling student will report an incident of sexual harassment or rape when a woman in a position of power is re-victimized for little more than being a victim of a sexual crime? Will judicial hopefuls be expected to disclose incidents of assault on their applications? Does every instance of non-missionary sex need to be disclosed, or only if there are photos?

Or this: if she had lived, would the images of her rape have meant that #YouKnowHerName would have been unfit for a career on the bench?

We ought to recognize that Douglas is the victim of a sexual crime. Her public re-victimization in the inquiry is wrong. It is time to rise to her defence and to demand better treatment for her and all victims of sexual violence.

Jasmine Akbarali is a partner in Lerners LLP’s appellate advocacy group. Gillian Hnatiw is a partner at Lerners LLP who regularly advocates for survivors of sexual violence.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Lori Douglas, please leave taxpayers cannot afford you any longer!"

Good Day Readers:

What's required is a debt clock much like that used by the Canadian Taxpayer Federation for the wall of the Winnipeg courtroom where the Douglas Inquiry is being heard. At least the public could "amuse themselves" by watching its costs steadily mount as the lawyers "entertain themselves" with their esoteric, ad nauseum arguments.

The $2 million figure is grossly understated because it does not take into account other non-legal fees such as travel, meals, translation/transcription services, photocopying, etc., etc., etc. Plus let us not forget Lori Douglas has been sitting at home tending her tomato plants since August of 2012 while drawing her full salary (approaching $300 thousand annually) plus a benefits package that won't quit. And what about an Acting Associate Chief Justice (Family Division) appointed earlier this year to do the work Ms Douglas should be doing?

A business model for investigating alleged misconduct of federally appointed judges that could well take more than 5-years costing in excess of $5 million is not seriously broken? Think again!

And to Lori Douglas CyberSmokeBlog says, "Lady please simply go taxpayers cannot afford you any longer!

Clare L. Pieuk

Note: The legal fees stated in The Lawyers Weekly article are understated. Sarah Whitman is the third member of  the "Team Douglas" publicly financed defence team and has been from the get go appearing at all hearings held in Winnipeg. Nowhere are her billables accounted.

Inquiry's legal bills run into millions

Cristin Schmitz

Sheila Block

November 21, 2014 Edition

The publicly funded legal fees of a senior Manitoba judge facing misconduct allegations are approaching $2 million the Public accounts of Canada reveal.

Prominent Toronto litigator Sheila Block and Molly Reynolds of Torys LLP are vigorously defending Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (Family Division) Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas at a formal Canadian Judicial Council Inquiry - were paid $630,191 from April 1 last year to March 31, discloses the report of the Receiver General of Canada tabled in Parliament on October 29.Their latest annual bill was in addition to $723,636 in fiscal 2013 and $191,691 in fiscal 2012 - a total of more than $1.5 million

That tally has already risen considerably this year, as the inquiry recently resumed operating after a 26-month hiatus while the Federal Court heard, and dismissed a bid by Justice Douglas to have it shut down for apprehension of bias. Block andy Reynolds are appealing that decision to the Federal Court of Appeal even as they defend the judge at the inquiry this month.

Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas faces several allegations - all of which she vigorously denies - including that sexually explicit photos of her that her late husband circulated on the internet so harmed her image as a judge that she should be removed from the bench.

The total cost of the CJC's inquiry and the related interlocutory court proceedings - which at one point had 15 lawyers on the record, many on the public dime - and soaring into the many millions.

Other senior counsel paid by the public treasury in fiscal 2014 included Paul Cavalluzzo of Toronto's Cavalluzzo Shilton who billed $303,616 to represent the CJC and, the inquiry's independent counsel Suzanne Cote of Osler, Hoskin &Harcourt who billed $293,786.

According to a CJC spokesperson, a 2014 public consultation on the judicial discipline process "widespread support" for the notion that "judges should not receive public funding to challenge and delay the "discipline process" through interlocatory proceedings. Reform in that respect are anticipated.

"Why you dirty little rat!"

Is God having financial issues?

Conrad Black selling part of Bridle Property for $7.2 million

Property listed as 24 Park Lane Circle severed from his estate at 26 Park Lane circle, where former media mogul lives with wife Barbara Amiel

Tony Wong/Staff Reporter
Sunday, November 16, 2014

Conrad Black has severed a chunk of his Park Lane Circle estate in the Bridle Path neighbourhood near Bayview and Lawrence. The parcel of land is on the market for $7.2 million.

Fancy having Conrad Black for a neighbour?
The former media mogul has quietly put a portion of his Bridle Path property in Toronto up for sale with an asking price of $7.2 million.
The 2.8-acre parcel in one of Canada’s most exclusive neighbourhoods is described in real estate marketing material as among the area’s “most coveted and admired plots of land” and “the ideal setting to build your dream estate.”
The property is listed as 24 Park Lane Circle. It was formerly part of Black’s existing estate at 26 Park Lane Circle.
Black, also known as Baron Black of Crossharbour due to a life peerage in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, has one of the largest and arguably the best property in the area at just under 10 acres in size.
The land for sale has been severed from Black’s existing holdings. It does not include his grand Georgian-style home where he lives with his wife, journalist Barbara Amiel.
The land has traditionally been used as the servants’ entrance to get to Black’s estate, according to people familiar with the property.
The sale of the property represents the continued downsizing of the former newspaper publisher, who once owned opulent abodes in New York, Palm Beach and London, where he would fly by private jet to take up residence in each. While he has sold the majority of his private estates, the Bridle Path property where he has lived most of his life seemed to be off limits until now.

The average size of a Bridle Path lot is in the two-acre range, so Black’s remaining property — about 6.5 acres, even after the sale of the land — would still dwarf most of the lots in the Bridle Path and be among the most valuable in the country.
Paul Miklas, a Bridle Path resident and luxury home developer who is building three homes in the area, says he has looked at the property for interested clients.
“There is a lot of interest right now, particularly from Asians who want large lots, and this is one of the few places left in Toronto you can get that,” says Miklas.
Clients typically want to build dwellings ranging from 30,000 square feet and higher, he said.
Broker Barry Cohen would not comment on the listing when contacted by the Star. A call to the Park Lane home was answered by an assistant who said Black was out of town.
Luxury properties have been hot this year. Sotheby’s International Realty recently sold a French manor-style mansion for $14.2 million in the Bridle Path to a mainland Chinese buyer. It is a record for a property less than an acre in size.
Cohen also has currently listed the former four-acre home of developer (and former Bloomingdale’s owner) Robert Campeau for $25 million, which includes an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool.
But the $7.2-million price for Black’s piece of land is just the starting point. (It was originally listed at close to $8 million, but the price was dropped recently.)
The new owners will also likely have to add at least another $3 to $4 million to build a decent-sized house.
Black’s father, George Montegu Black, was one of the original residents of the neighbourhood. Since then, the list of residents has read like a global who’s who, from musical stars, including Prince and Gordon Lightfoot, to corporate luminaries with names such as Bata, Bassett, Menkes, Posluns and Weston.
Black now spends his time as a talk-show host on Vision TV, and as an author of history books. He recently released Rise to Greatness: The History of Canada from the Vikings to the Present.”
Black was stripped of his Order of Canada by Governor General David Johnston earlier this year. Prior to that, he had spent three years in U.S. federal prison on fraud and obstruction of justice charges before being released in May 2012.
He returned to his mansion on the Bridle Path on a temporary resident permit after he publicly renounced his citizenship, leading Vanity Fair magazine to dub him “Canada’s most famous non-citizen.”
Black’s British colonial-style Florida mansion in Palm Beach (where he did the Vanity Fair interview) sold for the equivalent of $26 million in 2011. He had reportedly earlier sold his London townhouse in Kensington for more than $23.4 million.
Black was once one of the world’s most powerful and influential figures. By the late 1990s, he had more than 500 publications under his banner as he headed the world’s third-largest newspaper group and the largest print-only media operation.