Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Disciplinary hearing on Douglas flap OK, should continue, court rules

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A Federal Court has ruled a disciplinary hearing into the conduct of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas was not biased and ought not to be suspended.

The ruling, released Friday, is the latest procedural twist in the confusing case of the judge accused of sexual harassment after her husband, lawyer Jack King, took and distributed nude photos of her and tried to arrange a tryst with his client, Alex Chapman.

The Federal Court's ruling is, to some degree, moot, because the Canadian Judicial Council's disciplinary panel has already resigned.

The panel stepped down shortly before the Federal Court was slated to delve into accusations lodged by Douglas that the CJC panel was biased against her.

Douglas argued the CJC's panel was biased because it allowed improper and adversarial cross-examination of King, which revealed private details about their sex life. That occurred back in the summer of 2012 when the committee first convened in Winnipeg for the start of the high-profile hearing.

Because the disciplinary panel resigned, much of the bias issue was set aside in Federal Court.

In Friday's decision, the Federal Court did side with Douglas on one key matter -- the release of what's believed to be a damning letter of resignation penned by the CJC's former independent counsel. The letter, which has been sealed, is believed to be highly critical of the CJC's process and the panel. The CJC argued the letter ought to remain confidential under solicitor-client privilege, but the court ruled no such privilege exists and ordered the letter released.

The CJC recently created a new disciplinary panel, but it's not yet clear whether it will now begin hearings anew or whether either side will appeal the Federal Court's ruling.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 29, 2014 A14

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