|Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas. (QMI Agency files)
WINNIPEG -- Justice Lori Douglas is guilty of nothing more than indulging her husband’s “strange tastes,” a judicial inquiry was told Tuesday.
Douglas -- who is fighting possible removal from the bench -- should not be punished for the misdeeds of her lawyer husband Jack King or accuser Alex Chapman, her lawyer Sheila Block told the inquiry panel in an opening address.
“To say the public interest means you fire the exploited woman -- the one betrayed and abused at the hands of unscrupulous men -- cannot be right,” Block said. “It’s not the victim who is a disgrace -- it’s a system of justice that could further harm the victim that is a disgrace.”
Douglas had no idea King posted naked pictures of her on the Internet or that he used the same pictures in 2003 to try and lure client Alex Chapman into having sex with her, Block said.
Douglas “had no interest in extra-marital encounters (and) certainly had no interest in her husband’s client,” Block said.
Chapman, whose complaint prompted the inquiry, claims Douglas fully participated in King’s plan and flirted with Chapman after meeting him for drinks at a Winnipeg bar.
Douglas is accused of failing to mention the pictures when she applied to become a judge in December 2004. She answered no when asked if there was anything in her past that would reflect badly on her or the judiciary.
Block said existence of the pictures was common knowledge in the legal community and Douglas knew she had done nothing wrong.
“She was not defined by her husband’s wrongdoing,” Block said. “Her conduct was not at issue.”
Among the issues the inquiry is to consider is whether the existence and knowledge of the online photos has made it impossible for Douglas to carry out her duties as a judge.
Block said firing Douglas would be the same as firing a rape victim whose assault had been videotaped and “set loose” on the Internet.
“If the video resurfaced, would the system of justice ever say she had to be removed from the bench?” Block asked.
“To say yes to that question ... is the antithesis of the public interest, it is the antithesis of what the administration of justice stands for.”
Inquiry counsel Guy Pratte promised to remain impartial and “retain a completely open mind” until all the evidence is in.
“This process has not been, is not, and will not become. .. either a witch hunt or a white wash,” Pratte said. “It will be rigorously thorough but scrupulously fair.”