Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Counsel in Douglas inquiry resigned due to potential bias in process

  • Print

The independent counsel involved in the case of a Manitoba judge photographed in the nude resigned because he felt the disciplinary process was tainted by bias.

"In my respectful view, by confounding the role of committee counsel and independent counsel, the committee is not only acting beyond its jurisdiction, but risks tainting the entire process with an appearance of bias," wrote Guy Pratte, the Ottawa lawyer meant to operate at arm's-length during Douglas’ disciplinary inquiry. "Should that happen, nothing can be done retroactively to cure the damage done."

Pratte’s letter, one of several kept secret until now, was released Friday by the Canadian Judicial Council as part of an ongoing federal court case that was meant to delve into the fairness of the CJC’s process. But, before a federal court judge could rule on that question, the CJC’s disciplinary committee resigned, rendering much of the matter moot.

Now, the CJC is appealing that ruling, prompting more delays and confusion in a case that has dragged on for nearly four years.

Douglas went on leave as the associate chief of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench after it was revealed her husband, lawyer Jack King, posted naked photos of her online without her knowledge. The CJC committee was tasked with determining whether Douglas can continue serving on the bench following related allegations of sexual harassment lodged against her by Alex Chapman.

At issue now is the role of the independent counsel, and whether the CJC’s own lawyer tarnished that role by aggressively questioning King during the displinary hearing. As independent counsel, Pratte’s role was to marshal the evidence and cross-examine all witnesses, acting as the public’s lawyer. Pratte and Douglas have both argued that the CJC’s own lawyer, stepped on that role and overstepped his own with his aggressive questioning, sparking the accusations the CJC was biased.

Pratte resigned as independent counsel in August and appealed to the federal court, with the disciplinary hearing incomplete.

"I take this step with great reluctance, for it has been a great and singular honour for me to serve in the capacity of independent counsel," wrote Pratte. "To be asked to serve the public interest, independently and solely, is a challenging task in and of itself – the more so in the unusual circumstances of this case."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Huge vigil held in support of Tina Fontaine, Faron Hall

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS STANDUP - pretty sunflower in field off HWY 206 near Bird's Hill Park Thursday August 09/2007
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the mandatory helmet law for cyclists under 18?

View Results

Ads by Google