POLITICS

Manitoba judge in nude photos case faces review of expenses

08/20/2013 03:43 EDT | Updated 10/20/2013 05:12 EDT
WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge under review after nude photos of her ended up on the Internet is now facing questions about expenses that include $6,400 in therapy she says she claimed to deal with stress.

Justice Lori Douglas's lawyer says the new complaint, which comes from Manitoba Queen's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal, is without merit and everything was approved through proper channels.

The Canadian Judicial Council confirmed Tuesday a member of the judicial conduct committee will review the matter to determine if further action is required.

The council would only say the review deals with a "representational allowance."

"Basically, it allows for chief justices and associate chief justices to be reimbursed for travel expenses incurred by the judge when they are travelling representing the court," said council spokeswoman Johanna Laporte.

In a statement, Douglas's lawyer, Sheila Block, says the expenses in question are for therapy to deal with stress from the nude photo hearings and for four plane tickets to Toronto to meet with counsel representing Douglas.

"The $6,400 for medically prescribed treatments related directly to the stress of the CJC proceedings, including the distribution to her peers of intimate pictures of the judge," the statement says. "This distribution, which has caused great stress, was against her will and over her vigorous objection to the CJC."

Block says all of Douglas's expenses were approved by the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, who handles administrative services for judges and reports directly to the federal justice minister. Douglas offered to repay some of the expenses if they raised a "retrospective concern," but that offer was refused.

Laporte said the review of Joyal's complaint is a first step and is done any time someone makes a complaint to the council. Typically, such reviews are not acknowledged publicly, but this one was because there were media reports about Joyal's concerns and because of the "high degree of interest" in the Douglas case.

A disciplinary hearing into the photos, which has dragged on for three years, has stalled while another judge determines whether the council panel hearing the case is biased against Douglas.

The saga began when Alex Chapman filed a complaint with the council accusing Douglas of sexual harassment. Chapman alleged that the judge's husband, Winnipeg lawyer Jack King, sent him nude photos of his wife before she was appointed to the bench and wanted Chapman to have sex with her.

King was representing Chapman in a divorce case at the time. Chapman complained to King's law firm and King settled the matter within weeks by paying Chapman $25,000 to return all the photos and to never discuss the matter.

The inquiry is supposed to examine whether Douglas failed to disclose the photos when she was appointed a judge in 2005 and whether their very existence should disqualify her from continuing as a judge.

Douglas, who rose to become associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, has denied all allegations. Both she and King have said he acted alone without her knowledge and was suffering from depression at the time.

Douglas is currently on paid leave and is still married to King.

Her lawyers and the former independent lawyer leading the inquiry both accused the council of bias and asked the Federal Court to stay the disciplinary hearing.

— By Tim Cook in Edmonton