Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chapman goes to law school

Repeatedly interrupts U of M forum

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Alex Chapman forgot to bring his company manners and indoor voice to school Thursday.

The belligerent attention-seeker repeatedly interrupted a University of Manitoba law school forum held so students could discuss what effect the Canadian Judicial Inquiry into Justice Lori Douglas's behaviour could have on their careers.

At one point, Chapman accused ethics Prof. David Asper of slander. He claimed law Prof. Karen Busby was lying. Despite repeated efforts to get the meeting back on track and the microphone returned so students could ask questions, Chapman continued.

"I am the victim here," he said vehemently.

Chapman was accompanied by two acolytes, one of whom attends the CJI inquiry devotedly. She informed the captive audience her three children had been taken away because of a female judge's decision. It didn't appear Lori Douglas was the judge, but she had plenty of opinions about her.

Before the open meeting, Asper said in an email he wanted to know whether students and faculty think the inquiry is the appropriate way to resolve the issues.

Those issues include the existence of graphic photos of Douglas taken by her husband, Jack King, and later put online by him. King was Chapman's divorce lawyer.

The latter claims King tried to get him to have sex with Douglas, that he emailed him the lewd photos and that he and the judge met twice. On one occasion, he claims, there was "touching."

In 2003, after threatening to make photos of Douglas public, he accepted a $25,000 cheque from King to shut up and go away. He'd been asking for $100,000.

Seven years later, he returned to sue the couple and their law firm for $67 million.

But on Thursday, Chapman denied his complaint had anything to do with the graphic photos of Douglas King sent him.

"I don't care about the photos," he said loudly.

He cared plenty in 2003 when he cashed King's cheque and he cared in 2010 when he released the photos to the media, unleashing the scandal. Douglas is on the CJI hot seat not just because of the photos and the allegation she knew King was trying to set up a threesome with Chapman.

When Douglas completed a personal history form as part of her application to be a judge, she checked "no" to a question asking if there was anything in her past that could negatively affect herself or the judiciary. Douglas's job is on the line.

Chapman's reputation as a loose cannon is well-established. Last month, he tussled with Queen's Bench Justice Donald Bryk. Chapman was ordered to pay back King's $25,000 because he breached their confidentially agreement. He was also ordered to pay $7,500 in legal fees to King. He was in court because he hadn't paid up.

In a story by Free Press justice reporter Mike McIntyre, Chapman claimed his civil rights were being violated because he'd fired his lawyer and didn't have a new one. When Bryk refused to delay the proceedings, Chapman got lippy.

"You're abusing your authority. I am asking you to recuse yourself," McIntyre reported Chapman shouted at the judge. The judge offered to cite him for contempt of court and have him arrested. Chapman ponied up that afternoon.

The law students got an education Thursday, both from their professors and from Chapman. Busby said not only is Douglas's livelihood at stake, so is her "constitutional right" to tenure. Asper asked rhetorically if answering affirmatively to a question about skeletons in the closet would doom a judicial applicant.

The students' questions were perceptive. Why do the Douglas and Phoenix Sinclair inquiries seem like circuses? How will this process affect future judges? What are the limits for lawyers in discussing cases?

When Chapman paused for breath, Asper offered the meeting's epigram. We should probably lead our lives with the belief what is private will remain so. If you assume everyone will know your secrets, he said, you'll never leave the house.

Chapman, the self-portrayed victim of the day, finally had nothing to add. He was probably just out of breath. It's unlikely he learned anything at law school.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 14, 2012 B1

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About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

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