Jack King, the Winnipeg lawyer whose nude photos of his wife, Justice Lori Douglas, triggered a judicial scandal, died Tuesday morning.
King, 67, was recently diagnosed with cancer and deteriorated quickly. He was widely known as a top divorce attorney who specialized in litigation.
"It is with great sorrow that we confirm that our beloved husband, father, and friend, Jack King, died peacefully early this morning after a short bout with cancer," said King's family in a statement. "We would ask that our privacy be respected during this difficult time."
His death adds a new layer of limbo to the already long and fraught disciplinary process involving Douglas. King was a key witness in hearings nearly two years ago, held by the Canadian Judicial Council's disciplinary committee tasked with figuring out whether Douglas can continue to serve as a judge despite the existence of the naked photos online.
One of King's former clients, Alex Chapman, alleged King tried to coerce him into having sex with Douglas in 2003. Chapman said King also sent him explicit nude photos of Douglas, who was a lawyer at the time in the same firm as King. Following an allegation King had sexually harassed Chapman, King agreed to pay Chapman $25,000 as a settlement.
Whether Douglas knew of King's intentions, whether she disclosed the publication of the naked photos and the settlement when she was being vetted to be a judge and whether the scandal now damages her ability to serve on the bench are at issue before the CJC.
The CJC's initial round of hearings, in the summer of 2012, collapsed amid accusations the panel of judges and lawyers hearing the case were biased against Douglas. The matter went to Federal Court and is headed for the Court of Appeal, likely later this year. This week, as part of the appeal, Douglas asked the courts to end the disciplinary process outright.
Instead, staff at the CJC have said they hope to resume the disciplinary hearings.
Staff at the CJC declined to comment on how King's death will affect the hearings, which could resume this summer despite the Federal Court appeals. Staff at the CJC offered their condolences to King's family and said procedural matters are best left to the new disciplinary panel, created last month.
Douglas argued some of the aggressive questioning of King on the witness stand was unfair. The new panel will have to decide how much of King's testimony and pre-hearing interviews it can use as evidence in the new hearings, if they proceed.
Douglas, associate chief justice for the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, remains under suspension.