The Canadian Judicial Council’s “inquiry” into allegations against Lori Douglas, the Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba (Family Division), has been falling apart for weeks. By now, serious questions about the behaviour of the three judges on the five-person panel are being asked.
The panel has, to put it bluntly, engaged in reprehensible, unethical conduct that should be the subject of another CJC inquiry—if we could only be assured that the entire council wouldn’t end up serially putting itself on trial.
The most recent of a series of damning revelations includes the panel’s attempted interference with independent co-counsel Karen Carin’s cross-examination of the complainant, Alex Chapman—and its bizarre refusal to consider key evidence that goes directly to his credibility.
Chapman claimed to have been disgusted and traumatized when Douglas’ husband showed him nude pictures of her.
But the shrinking violet, it now turns out, was previously a sex performer for hire. This information is surely crucial to the case—but the panel didn’t want those facts presented, nor Chapman to be cross-examined on them.
Independent counsel Guy Pratte, a highly-regarded officer of the court appointed by the panel, quit on August 28. Clearly frustrated with the railroading of Justice Douglas, he had filed for judicial review of panel decisions a week earlier.
In particular, the panel’s own counsel, George Macintosh, had been instructed to conduct aggressive, hostile interrogations of witnesses favourable to Douglas. Given that the panel is supposed to be impartial, this was an obvious and serious conflict of interest. And that conflict was exacerbated when the panel criticized Pratte’s co-counsel, Karen Crain, for being “too aggressive” in her questioning of the complainant, and told her that she should “tone it down.”
Unbelievably, this message was passed on to Crain and to Pratte by Macintosh. Just as incredibly, this was all done ex parte—Douglas’ counsel was not present during any of these discussions.
Two weights, two measures.
No wonder Douglas’ lawyers have filed their own application for judicial review of this grossly tainted proceeding.
Over to Christie Blatchford, whose coverage of this case has been excellent:
In the affidavit, filed in support of an application for judicial review that the judge’s legal team is seeking, lawyer Sarah Whitmore bluntly described the panel’s conduct as “attempted interference in the Chapman cross”.
What’s more, Whitmore said, coupled with the way the panel has conducted the entire hearing — at one point, telling Pratte he must present only “the strongest case possible” against Judge Douglas, a direction he fought and had modified, and ordering Macintosh to aggressively question two witnesses whose evidence was favourable to the judge — the panel has been applying “two different standards”.