Friday, November 07, 2014

Is it time to rule the Douglas Inquiry dysfunctional?


Good Day Readers:

By now the Douglas Inquiry has to be the Mother of all Canadian Judicial Council Inquiries. What began as a complaint in July of 2010 is still nowhere near resolution and may not until well into 2015.

Speaking generically, of course, there is something fundamentally flawed in taking this much time to rid the bench of a lousy judge. How many millions has it cost to this point and it may be far from over. If the CJC's final recommendation is for removal it must next go the the House and Commons and Senate for a vote.

But wait a minute there could be more. If Team Douglas is not satisfied with The Council's recommendation it could petition the Supreme Court of Canada for a review. Hopefully, the Court will take one look at the .... load of material posted on the CJC's website and conclude this case has been more than adequately vetted.

The notion of having the photographs ruled inadmissible is malarkey. They're a key piece of evidence. To do so would be equivalent to a judge ruling forensics, witness testimony and police evidence cannot be entered into the record.

BTY, CyberSmokeBlog predicted that Team Douglas could go to the Federal Court of Canada for yet another judicial review if it didn't like the ruling on the recently concluded preliminary hearings. In a media interview last year Chief Justice Paul Crampton noted the Court was 3-4 judges short and a backlog of cases existed. Do you really think he'll tell his judges to drop everything to give Team Block's request prominence?

Team Block's approach can best be described as deny ... deny ... deny ... delay ... delay ... delay ... obfuscate ... obfuscate ... obfuscate. As a reader has pointed out this case could be on a different footing when Bill C13 (Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act) is passed. It has been through three readings in the House of Commons so now sits in the Senate.

Clare L. Pieuk
Manitoba judge wants court to bar nude photographs from disciplinary hearing
Colin Perkel
Friday, November 7, 2014

TORONTO - The senior Manitoba judge who could be booted from the bench because her husband posted photographs of her posing nude on the Internet has taken new court action against the inquiry panel hearing her case.

In an application this week, Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas asks Federal Court to set aside the panel's decision to allow the images to be used as evidence against her. She also wants the court to put the decision on hold pending the outcome of the fight.

In the application obtained by The Canadian Press, Douglas's lawyers denounce the committee's findings as "perverse (and) capricious."

The committee was wrong to decide it can "determine which private, lawful, consensual sexual activities are 'demeaning to women,' thereby justifying removal of a judge."

It's not clear when Federal Court might hear the case, but the Canadian Judicial Council panel is supposed to begin the disciplinary hearings at the end of the month.

In preliminary motions heard in late October, the panel rejected Douglas's arguments to drop the case. The judge had also asked the committee to declare the intimate photographs inadmissible and return them without viewing them.

The pictures, she maintained, are highly prejudicial and the panel's viewing them would cause her irreparable harm.

In rejecting the request, the panel ruled the photographs are relevant to the allegations against her.
"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."
The panel did promise that the photographs would remain out of the public record even if they become evidence.

For her part, Douglas notes the images were disseminated without her knowledge — an act that will soon be outlawed — and that putting them before the inquiry would further violate her right to privacy and constitute an "invasion upon her autonomy, dignity and self-worth."

Federal Court, she says, should prohibit the committee or the judicial council from looking at or disseminating the photographs.

The allegations state the intimate photographs, taken by her late husband and distributed without her consent, could be seen as "inherently contrary to the image and concept of integrity" of the judiciary. Douglas is also alleged to have withheld information about the images when she applied to become a judge.

In its decision released this week, the committee rejected her request for a summary dismissal of the case.

"An evidentiary hearing is warranted and in the public interest," the panel decided.

"Given the nature of the issues and the evidence required, it cannot make the necessary findings of fact or apply the legal principles to reach a just and fair determination on a summary basis."

This is the second time Douglas has gone to Federal Court in an effort to derail the proceedings against her. An earlier decision, which was partly in her favour, is now before the Federal Court of Appeal.


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