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Douglas's lawyer says Joyal's complaint over expenses 'without merit'

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Sheila Block is representing Judge Lori Douglas.

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Sheila Block is representing Judge Lori Douglas. Photo Store

A lawyer for Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas said today a complaint by Chief Justice Glenn Joyal to the Canadian Judical Council about Douglas’s expenses claims is without merit.

A media report today said Joyal, Douglas’s boss, complained to the judicial council (CJC) in the spring about $6,400 in claims she made.

Douglas has not sat as an active judge for more than three years in connection to a sexual harassment complaint that is the subject of an ongoing hearing also before the CJC.

Douglas is still collecting a full salary of more than $315,000 annually and has access to an annual $5,000 expense account.

Douglas’s lawyer Sheila Block said in a statement that Douglas’s expenses have all been approved by the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, which administers the expense account.

"The chief justice (Joyal) has no role in or access to another judge’s expenses," Block said in the statement. "It is entirely a matter between the judge and the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs."

Block also said the expenses in question are for medically prescribed therapies over four years, totaling $6,400, plus four economy fare trips to Toronto to see her counsel acting in the CJC proceedings.

"All expenses are related to the consequences of the CJC proceedings brought against Douglas," she said.

The CJC confirmed Joyal’s complaint said in a statement released today.

It said Joyal’s complaint included questions about the use of a "representational allowance" by Douglas.

"Council takes seriously all allegations of possible misconduct made about Superior Court judges," the CJC said. "This matter is now being reviewed by the vice-chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee, in accordance with the provisions of the Complaints Procedures of Council. In keeping with these procedures and the rules of fairness followed in all complaints, the judge has been given an opportunity to make representations about the allegations."

Block said in the statement Douglas’s expenses were approved.

"The $6,400 for medically prescribed treatments related directly to the stress of the CJC proceedings, including the distribution to her peers of intimate pictures of the judge. This distribution, which has caused great stress, was against her will and over her vigorous objection to the CJC.

"Seventy-five per cent of the $6,400 in medically related expenses had in fact been preapproved by the commissioner before they were submitted. All of the expenses were approved on proper documentation."

She also said when the issue was first raised by Joyal, Douglas contacted the commissioner directly to see whether he now had concerns about the expenses previously approved.

She also volunteered to repay any expenses about which he might have a retrospective concern.

"The commissioner said that none of the expenses needed to be repaid. They had all been submitted under existing policies of the commissioner’s office and had been properly approved and reimbursed accordingly."

Joyal was informed of this before he filed his complaint, Block said.

"Travel expenses in connection with the CJC proceedings continue to be paid by the Commissioner’s Office. He has asked that they be booked through a different account going forward."

A spokeswoman for Joyal said in a email that concerns or questions of an ethical nature as raised by a chief justice concerning another judge’s conduct may be referred to the Canadian Judicial Council for consideration.

"Consistent with the responsibilities and ethical obligations set out in commentary 7 of the Ethical Principles of Judges, published by the Canadian Judicial Council, in respect of the principle of 'INTEGRITY,' the concerns raised in this case relate to the use of public funds, about which no chief justice can or should be indifferent. Commentary 7 states:

"7. Judges also have opportunities to be aware of the conduct of their judicial colleagues. If a judge is aware of evidence which, in the judge’s view, is reliable and indicates a strong likelihood of unprofessional conduct by another judge, serious consideration should be given as to how best to ensure that appropriate action is taken having regard to the public interest in the due administration of justice. This may involve counselling, making inquiries of colleagues, or informing the chief justice or associate chief justice of the court."

History

Updated on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 1:51 PM CDT: adds link to statement

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