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Douglas inquiry adjourns following objection over questioning

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Concerns about an aggressive line of questions have suspended the Canadian Judicial Council's hearings on Justice Lori Douglas until tomorrow.

Just after lunch, inquiry panel lawyer George MacIntosh told media that the five-member panel would adjourn until 9:45 Friday to consider charges that the inquiry has been "tainted" by MacIntosh's tough cross-examination of Douglas's husband Jack King.

The panel may hear more witnesses tomorrow if the inquiry continues.

But Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, called on the inquiry to fold.

While the inquiry panel is able to ask questions through their lawyer, Block argued that MacIntosh's questions -- which largely dealt with Douglas's knowledge of the nude photos King took of her -- were "aggressive" and could make it appear as if the panel had a bias against King and his wife.

"The continuation of this hearing is now poisoned," Block told the five-member inquiry panel. "It brings the Canadian Judicial Council's administration of justice into disrepute."

The inquiry's independent lawyer, Guy Pratte, agreed with Block's objection, saying that MacIntosh appeared to act as a prosecutor, instead of merely clarifying evidence.

"One news report called it 'withering,' and he certainly was," he said. "The issue is not for you to descend into the arena. But you did."

Pratte suggested he might resign his position if the aggressive questioning from the panel's lawyer continued.

The tussle over the inquiry's future came just as the inquiry wrapped up hearing evidence on its first charge against Douglas, which is the issue of whether or not she was complicit in her husband's attempt to use nude photos of Douglas to entice a client to try to "seduce" her.

The dispute caused a two-hour delay in the start of the inquiry on Thursday.


Updated on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 1:52 PM CDT: updates with full write-thru

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