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July 17, 2012 permalink
A hearing is under way in Winnipeg to determine the fate of Lori Douglas, a judge who has caused a scandal because pictures of her in erotic poses were posted to the internet.
About a dozen of the nude pictures were widely available on the internet a year ago, as of this posting a few can still be found easily.
Lori Douglas employed one of Canada's top law firms, Torys LLP, to ask fixcas to remove our set of Lori Douglas nude photos. We presume the relative paucity of those pictures on the internet today is the result of Torys' efforts. Here are two threats from Molly Reynolds of Torys, June 13 and June 21, both in 2012 (pdf). What's wrong with these threats? Since a website with no revenue stream can hardly justify the expense of defending against judge Douglas's legal juggernaut, the pictures were removed before either of the written legal threats were issued. Courts occasionally treat unfounded legal threats such as these as an actionable form of harassment.
When the scandal first broke, fixcas defended Lori Douglas as a victim. Our opinion changed quickly when she used the powers of her office to attempt to seize copies of the offending images. She has continued with more of the same, including the redundant threats addressed to fixcas and Robert T McQuaid. The public grants enormous powers to judges so that they can administer the law on behalf of the entire community and provide vital services, such as keeping the peace. Those powers are not granted so that judges can use them for their private purposes. Judge Douglas has put herself in the same position as a policeman who uses his gun for stick-ups. She is unfit to exercise the powers of a judge. Not for sex, something that interests every normal person, but for the way she uses her powers.
A news article by Christie Blatchford gives the current state of this proceeding.
Blatchford: Despite attempts at propriety, little can hide tawdry nature of Manitoba judge's sex trial
WINNIPEG — At the request of the inquiry chair, independent counsel Kirsten Crain, one of two prosecutorial equivalents in the curious proceeding unfolding at the Federal Court building here, very delicately fetched a blank sheet of white paper and handed it to the man in the witness box.
Alex Chapman was to use it, please, as a cover sheet as he flipped through 35 pages of sexually explicit photographs of a Manitoba Queen's Bench judge.
By then, of course, Chapman had already zipped past the first couple of pages, briefly exposing parts of the offending pictures, and the lady in them, to the public gallery.
And in any case, these same photographs, or some of them, were and apparently are still available on the web — indeed, the fact they were and are forms one of the complaints in the case — so the horse had long ago bolted the barn on this one.
Yet when it came time to make the photos exhibits, the committee nonetheless had them labelled as confidential, as ineffective and ostentatious a bit of window dressing as there could possibly be.
As a metaphor for the Canadian Judicial Council hearing itself, the committee's handling of explicit intimate photos of a fellow judge is not half-bad: The entire business is as salacious as hell and everyone knows it, but it has been gussied up as a woeful necessity worthy of grave mien and serious affect.
The five-member committee is probing the conduct of Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas.
She faces four allegations — the most serious that she knowingly participated in the plan of lawyer husband Jack King to entice Chapman, his former client, into having sex with her or them — any one of which could see her deemed unfit and removed from the bench.
In 2003, King, then apparently in mid-mental breakdown, posted the intimate pictures on the Dark Cavern website, which caters to white couples looking for black male partners.
He has admitted doing this, and to sexually harassing Chapman, who is black, but has always maintained he did it all without Judge Douglas' knowledge and that it was a grotesque betrayal. And at the time, King paid Chapman $25,000 for his silence and to return the pictures and emails he'd sent him, a deal Chapman reneged on seven years later, when it appears he'd decided another judge, in another of his court matters, was being influenced by Douglas, and went to the CJC and the CBC.
Indeed, Chapman himself Monday acknowledged that he had no direct personal knowledge, even from King in full fantastical flight, that Douglas ever knew what her husband was up to.
But, he said, and he said it a number of ways a number of times, "the impression I got was that him and his wife are into this crazy sex stuff but he want to go further . . . all these pictures, she's posing for them, with all these labels, labels like 'waiting for black c--k' . . . He didn't tell me she knew the pictures were on the Internet, but they had a splash page on the website, they were married 25 years or whatever . . .
"But that's just my opinion," Chapman said. Suffice to say, he was happy to give his opinion, and volunteered it frequently.
He maintained that King — who had represented him in his divorce, the case just wrapping up when the weird overtures began — was a magnetic bully who was controlling him, and whom he feared.
He agreed that when King suggested he check out the Dark Cavern website, or talked about how he was trying to persuade his wife to be more sexually adventurous, or sent him explicit pictures — tried essentially to pimp Douglas out to Chapman — he never explicitly told him he wasn't interested.
He was disgusted by the pictures, Chapman said, repelled. He wondered if King wasn't trying to set him up; after all, he was then suing the Winnipeg Police and he figured maybe the cops were behind it. King "got into my head" and he hated it.
"It was so scary," Chapman said once. "I never told him no because he had control over me."
A tentative settlement agreement in his divorce had been reached, he said, admitting King had done well for him, and he figured if he could "just hang on for a couple of weeks," he'd have the divorce. As he put it once, "I wanted him (King) to believe I was interested, but I wasn't interested."
At least once, when he talked about King's Svengali-like hold on him, Chapman grew teary. He was at the lowest point of his life — his marriage was over, he was out of his house, his lawyer was harassing him — and he was afraid, he said. He even considered that perhaps "people were going to try to kill me. I was paranoid. My skin is black and I'm in a society where minorities don't get favours, you know."
Yet in the witness stand, he was occasionally bellicose, and often aggressively confident.
When Crain was taking him through his datebook for 2003, and pointing out how some of the entries reporting meetings or conversations with King were in black ink while the rest of the notes on the pages were in blue, she repeatedly suggested Chapman had added the damaging notes at a later time.
He at first appeared not to understand the inference, and kept answering that he had pens of many colours on his desk.
But when the penny dropped at last, he snapped, "If you don't believe me, let's all go take a polygraph test because I don't like this witch hunt."
Several times, when Crain pressed him, he launched into unrelated lurid descriptions of what King had posted on the Dark Cavern sites, at one point saying of Douglas, "She's not even my type anyway. She was this hairy woman. I'm sorry, but she was." At another juncture, Chapman snapped, "I mean, come on! She (Douglas) had to, ought to, have known. Back then, I didn't know my rights. I thought my lawyer was to protect my interest. He raped my mind, basically."
The evidence has just begun to be heard, but it is hard to imagine that all it took to kick-start this entire process was for this strange man to shout, "J'accuse!"
Source: Montreal Gazette
Addendum: As of November 2012 naked pictures of Lori Douglas are returning to the internet. For example, Lori Douglas "Defense" is a Disgrace. To reduce the threat of litigation, fixcas is posting only the link, not copying the actual picture. There are many more copies of her photos, many on Chinese language websites.
Addendum: As of July 2013 the judge is collecting $250,000 per year and the hearings are on hold, possibly forever.
Disciplinary hearing on hold after Federal Court ruling
Justice issues warning to Harper government
BURIED in Friday's Federal Court order is a terse challenge to the Harper government: Speak up on the Lori Douglas case.
Federal Attorney General Rob Nicholson is the respondent in Federal Court matters related to Douglas's disciplinary hearing. When the judicial review begins, it will be the attorney general who will argue the Canadian Judicial Council's process has been fair and unbiased.
But, in the preliminary matters before the Federal Court, including Douglas's application to put the disciplinary hearing on hold, Ottawa has maintained an "overwhelming silence," Federal Court Justice Judith Snider wrote Friday.
That better not be a pattern that carries on into the judicial review itself, she warned.
"Indeed, I would view such an abdication as irresponsible, totally contrary to the public interest and close to contemptuous of this court," Snider wrote.
The disciplinary hearing into the conduct of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas is on hold, maybe forever.
The hearing, which gripped the province's legal community last summer thanks to its titillating details, may not resume for months or years, if ever, pending the outcome of a judicial review. It's possible the matter will end up before the Supreme Court of Canada.
A Federal Court judge ruled Friday continuing the highly charged disciplinary hearings into Douglas's conduct would compound the irreparable harm to her reputation and career.
Friday's ruling, seen as a victory for Douglas, inches the tortuous matter forward, paving the way for a full judicial review of the disciplinary hearing, which is on hold.
Douglas has alleged the hearing by a Canadian Judicial Council panel is biased because the panel allowed improper and adversarial cross-examination of her husband, lawyer Jack King, which revealed private details about their sex life. Douglas is also alleging bias because the CJC's panel refused to allow Douglas's lawyer to cross-examine complainant Alex Chapman about his credibility.
Three years ago, when the scandal first erupted, Chapman filed a complaint with the CJC accusing Douglas of sexual harassment. Chapman alleged King sent him nude photos of Douglas and wanted Chapman to have sex with her. At the time, King was representing Chapman in a divorce case. King has admitted to giving Chapman sexually explicit photographs of his wife that were posted on the Internet, all without his wife's consent, and to paying Chapman $25,000 to settle the complaint.
University of Manitoba law Prof. Karen Busby did not want to prejudge the outcome of the upcoming judicial review but said there is merit in Douglas's claim the CJC's panel is biased.
"Allegations of bias are easy to make but hard to prove and rarely successful," she said. "There is a strong case for bias here."
And, given that it's taken a year to settle the preliminary matters, she said it could be six to nine months at best before the review is held and a decision emerges.
It's possible -- some say even likely -- the judicial review will spawn further appeals, possibly all the way to the Supreme Court.
It's also possible the judicial review will call a permanent halt to the CJC's disciplinary hearing.
Staff at the CJC are more optimistic about a speedy outcome, saying they are hopeful the judicial review will be concluded in time for the disciplinary hearing to resume as planned this fall.
"I am more optimistic than others," said Norman Sabourin, the CJC's executive director and senior general counsel. "To the extent I have anything to do with it, things are going to move quickly."
He said he also believes a judicial review will confirm the disciplinary panel has acted without bias.
"I'm confident that the council has a process that is fair and will withstand scrutiny," said Sabourin.
Also Friday, the Federal Court refused to grant intervenor status in the judicial review to the CJC's disciplinary panel. It also refused to expand the intervenor role granted to the independent counsel in the case.
It's possible those orders could spark appeals, further delaying the judicial review.
Douglas has been on paid leave from the bench since 2010, pending the outcome of the inquiry.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Addendum: Efforts to avoid a hearing have failed as of November 2014.
Manitoba judge who had nude photos posted online loses bid to end disciplinary hearing
WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge whose nude pictures were posted online has lost a bid to quash a disciplinary hearing that could result in her removal from the bench.
A panel of judges appointed by the Canadian Judicial Council has dismissed a motion from the lawyer for Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas to throw the case out. Sheila Block compared Douglas to celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence or Scarlett Johansson, whose nude photos were hacked, or to a rape victim who is subsequently shunned.
Block argued the panel shouldn’t put Douglas through more trauma because she was a victim of cyber sexual assault.
The panel rejected Block’s argument, along with one that suggested they shouldn’t see the racy photos because that would violate Douglas’s privacy.
The panel is expected to post written reasons for its decision within days.
“We will deal with the pictures, the photographs, at the beginning of the hearing on Nov. 24,” chair Francois Rolland told a hearing into the matter last week, according to transcripts posted on the council’s website.
The panel is reserving its decision on whether to dismiss the allegation that Douglas altered her personal diary when she discovered the council investigation into her conduct, Rolland said.
“We’re going to do our best to render our decision as quickly as possible,” he said. “It’s going to be done very, very soon.”
The disciplinary panel is examining whether the photos are “inherently contrary to the image and concept of integrity” of the judiciary and undermine public confidence in the justice system.
The panel is also looking into whether Douglas disclosed the existence of the photos before she was appointed to the bench in 2005.
Douglas’s late husband, lawyer Jack King, posted the intimate photos of his wife online over a decade ago and showed them to a client, Alexander Chapman, to try to entice him to have sex with her. Chapman later alleged the behaviour was sexual harassment.
He was paid $25,000 to destroy the photos and drop the complaint. But he held on to copies and made them public in 2010.
Douglas and King always said she had no part in King’s actions, which he later described as “bizarre, ridiculous, stupid, self-indulgent, grotesque.” King died of cancer last spring and Douglas has been on paid leave since 2010.
A previous panel that was investigating Douglas only heard a few days of testimony and got bogged down in technical arguments. Its members resigned en masse following allegations that the proceeding was biased against Douglas and three new people were appointed.
Block had urged the new panel not to go ahead with another evidentiary hearing, which she said runs counter to a bill on the verge of becoming law. The bill before Parliament would make it criminal to distribute or publish intimate photos of someone without his or her consent.
Photos taken of marital sex don’t throw the justice system into disrepute, but continuing to prosecute the woman who never consented to making them public does, Block suggested.
Independent counsel Suzanne Cote argued the case should be investigated “on its merits.” She said there is plenty of evidence to warrant a hearing and judges are held to a higher standard than their fellow citizens.
Perfectly worthy candidates may be rejected because of an element in their past, she said. Cote also disputed that committee members who vetted Douglas’s application knew about the photos, saying they “almost fell from their chairs” when the nude photos were made public.
The panel is expected to reconvene in Winnipeg at the end of November.
Source: National Post
Addendum: The judge has agreed to resign.
Judge Lori Douglas's offer to retire early accepted by judicial panel
Nude photos of Manitoba judge appeared on internet
A Canadian Judicial Council panel has accepted an offer from Lori Douglas, a senior Manitoba judge, to retire early in exchange for avoiding a hearing on whether she should be kicked off the bench over nude photos of her that appeared on the internet.
The decision by the three-person panel hearing Douglas's case was announced Monday afternoon in Winnipeg.
Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, said the agreement was struck with the council to stay the proceedings in return for the judge's offer to retire in May 2015.
In accepting Douglas's offer, the panel said it was unrealistic to expect a conclusion to her case before then.
As a result of the settlement, the hearings are adjourned until May 2015. Assuming that the conditions of the deal are met and Douglas retires, the hearings will formally conclude.
Douglas faces allegations that she failed to disclose the photos when she 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 graphic sex photographs during the hearing.
Photos posted without permission
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 when she 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.
Statement from Lori Douglas's lawyer
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 ACJ Douglas, 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.