Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cash ordered in the court

-- Chapman told to pay King $7,500 in costs -- Coughs up money to avoid going to jail

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It was a day filled with threats, raised voices, allegations of wrongdoing and corruption, a deadline for arrest -- all capped off with a run to the bank and hostile delivery of $7,500 cash to a Winnipeg courtroom.

In other words, just another episode in an ongoing Manitoba legal case that has the dramatic twists of a soap opera.

The latest episode occurred Wednesday when Alex Chapman got into a heated argument with Queen's Bench Justice Donald Bryk over a judgment with which Chapman has failed to comply.

Chapman was ordered earlier this year to pay back a $25,000 settlement he received from his former lawyer, Jack King. Chapman was found to have breached terms of a 2003 confidentiality agreement by going public in 2010 with sexual-harassment allegations against King and his wife, Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas. Chapman was also ordered to pay $7,500 in legal costs to King, which was the subject of Wednesday's hearing.

Chapman had yet to hand over a single penny, claiming his current financial situation left him unable to comply. So he was hauled into court for the purpose of allowing King's lawyer, Bill Gange, to question him under oath on that issue.

That's when the fireworks began. Chapman went into a lengthy diatribe, claiming his civil rights were being violated again. He had just fired his most recent lawyer and claimed he wanted to be self-represented, yet argued Wednesday he should be entitled to find new counsel before being forced to take the stand. And he became defiant when a clearly perturbed Bryk refused to delay proceedings.

"You're abusing your authority. I am asking you to recuse yourself," he shouted at the judge. Bryk responded by threatening to cite him for contempt of court and have him arrested on the spot, which only caused Chapman to become more irate.

"You just want to show your might. You're making up the rules now," said Chapman. He claimed he was "tricked" into the hearing, even though it concerns a judicial order made months ago and of which Chapman and his now ex-lawyer, Paul Walsh, had been given plenty of notice.

Bryk didn't budge, telling Chapman he had exactly one hour to make a decision -- either testify as required and pay the outstanding money to King, or be hauled away in handcuffs.

"I'm not prepared to put up with any more of your tactics," said Bryk.

When court reconvened later in the afternoon, Chapman was standing in the room with a massive bundle of bills he'd just withdrawn from his bank. He handed them over to Gange, bringing an abrupt end to the matter.

However, there may be more trouble on the horizon. Chapman has yet to pay back any of the $25,000 judgment, and Gange could file the same motion for that money.

The ongoing civil court battle has been trumped in recent weeks by the Canadian Judicial Council inquiry into Douglas, which will determine whether she can return to the bench. Two weeks of public hearings were held last month in Winnipeg and included sordid testimony from both Chapman and King. Douglas, and other members of the Manitoba judiciary, are expected to take the stand when the matter resumes in December.

In 2003, King was Chapman's divorce lawyer and tried to solicit him to have sex with his wife, Douglas, also a lawyer at the time. King admits sending explicit bondage photos of his wife to Chapman. When the plan was exposed, King agreed to pay Chapman $25,000 to drop the matter. In exchange, Chapman was to turn over any photos of Douglas he might have and never speak about the subject.

But in 2010, Chapman filed a $67-million lawsuit against the couple and the law firm where they worked.

Photos of Douglas were leaked online. The lawsuit was later dropped, and King pleaded guilty to a Law Society of Manitoba charge of professional misconduct. He was reprimanded and ordered to pay $13,650 in legal fees. He has since returned to his law practice. Douglas has been on leave from the bench since August 2010.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2012 B1

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