Christie Blatchford: Handling of
Lori Douglas inquiry into nude
photos allegedly damaged
integrity of Canadian
CHRISTIBLATCHFO| 30/11/13 12:17 AM ET Reprintsh
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core website and tried to entice Alex Chapman, right, into having a sexual relationship with her; Judge Douglas has
always vigorously denied she had any idea what her husband was doing with their private pictures. Like Share 17 Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email Comments More
The Canadian Judicial Council allegedly has damaged its very integrity and its ability
to offer procedural fairness to judges by its handling of the Lori Douglas case.
Ms. Douglas is the Manitoba Associate Chief Justice who remains in limbo as the
public hearing into allegations against her collapsed about 16 months ago amid
charges the inquiry panel was biased against her.
Judge Douglas is facing four allegations, the most scandalous — and the one that has
led to her being described in the cruel shorthand of newspaper headlines as the “nude
judge” — that she participated with her lawyer husband Jack King in the sexual
harassment of Alex Chapman, a former client of Mr. King’s.
She has always adamantly denied knowing what her husband was doing with their
intimate bedroom pictures — he posted them online on a hard-core sex site and tried
to engage Mr. Chapman into instigating a sexual relationship with her — and indeed,
at the aborted hearing held in Winnipeg in 2012, there was considerable evidence Mr.
King had been acting on his own, without Judge Douglas’s knowledge or consent.
Christie Blatchford: Justice Lori Douglas’s real sin seems to have been creating
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But in the latest procedural step, her lawyer, Sheila Block, argued this week in Federal
Court in Ottawa that not only did the inquiry panel muck up the hearing itself, the CJC
by claiming it has a solicitor-client relationship with its “independent counsel” has also
vitiated the broader duty of fairness it owes the more than 1,000 federally appointed
judges it governs. The claim of privilege stands in sharp contrast to the CJC’s own bylaws and policies,
which emphasize that the independent counsel doesn’t report to the CJC, take
direction from it or owe it the traditional lawyer’s duty of loyalty and confidentiality.
The position is also diametrically opposed to what the CJC itself said just three years
ago in a report on another disciplinary hearing involving another judge, Paul
The solicitor-client claim is critical because it means the CJC can give independent
counsel “a secret mandate,” or marching orders, and then protect the communications
detailing the secret orders from disclosure.
The strongest case possible
In fact, Ms. Block told Judge Richard Mosely, that’s pretty much what happened in the
The first independent counsel, appointed by the vice-chair of the CJC’s judicial
conduct committee Neil Wittman, was Guy Pratte.
Even before the hearing began, Mr. Pratte had reason to be concerned: In a ruling, the
inquiry committee had ordered him to present “the strongest case possible” against
Mr. Pratte objected, noting his role was to act impartially and in the public interest,
not as a prosecutor or hired gun.
He was also directed to add to the formal “notice of allegations” Mr. Chapman’s
complaint, though it had not been referred to the inquiry panel by the review panel.
(Mr. Chapman, as his testimony at the hearing revealed, is a deeply suspicious, highly
litigious man who once sued his own mother and who has a criminal record for arson,