Canadian Judicial Council: update on Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas

Ottawa, 5 January 2011 – The Canadian Judicial Council gave an update today about two complaints made against Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba.

In accordance with the Complaints Procedures of the Council, a complaint made by Mr Alex Chapman was considered by the Vice-chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee of Council, the Honourable Neil Wittmann, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. The complaint alleges sexual harassment and discrimination on the part of the judge.  These are allegations only: no conclusions have been drawn so far about them.

After considering all the available information in the case, Chief Justice Wittmann has decided that this is a matter that warrants further consideration.  The complaint is therefore referred to a Review Panel of five judges.  Referring a file to a Review Panel is one of various options available to the Council as part of the early remedial stages of the complaints process.  The Review Panel of five judges (three Council members and two other judges) will review the matter and decide if the file should be closed or whether other measures should be taken.  This could include: referring the matter to a lawyer for further inquiries; pursuing remedial measures; expressing concern to the judge; referring the case to a public inquiry committee.

A second complaint, which was publicized in media reports, was also considered by Chief Justice Wittmann.  The complainant, whose name was not divulged publicly, claimed that Associate Chief Justice Douglas had a personal relationship with the complainant’s ex-husband and that she should not have heard the divorce case involving the complainant and her ex-husband.  After a review of all available information,  Chief Justice Wittmann found that there was no evidence to support the allegations, which were based on speculation, hearsay and assumptions.

Because the complaint involves a Council member, an outside lawyer was asked to review the matter, as required by the Council’s Complaints Procedures.  After completing her review, Ms Wendy Harris, Q.C., of the Vancouver firm Harris and Company, agreed that the second complaint was unsupported by evidence.  Accordingly, the file has been closed.

As part of its mandate, the Canadian Judicial Council works to foster ongoing public confidence in the judiciary.  Information about the Council, including its Complaints Procedures, can be found on the Council’s website at www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.

Contact:

Norman Sabourin, Executive Director and Senior General Counsel

613-288-1566

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