Up in Canada, judges have no problem with cameras in the courtroom. As Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin explained in a recent discussion with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Canada’s high court has had cameras in the courtroom for over 20 years, and they haven’t caused any problems. [FN1]
Some Canadian judges don’t have a problem with cameras outside the courtroom, either. As reported by CBC News, naked photographs of a senior judge from Canada engaging in bondage, playing with sex toys and performing oral sex were previously posted on the internet. These nude pictures are now part of ethics complaints filed in July against the judge, Lori Douglas, associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, and her husband, Winnipeg family lawyer Jack King.
And the pics are just the tip of the iceberg. The complainant, a 44-year-old computer specialist named Alexander Chapman, claims that Jack King, Chapman’s lawyer at the time, sexually harassed Chapman by pressuring him to have sex with King’s wife, Lori Douglas (still a lawyer at the time).
So… many… questions. Let’s learn more — plus ogle a bigger and better photo of Madam Justice Douglas….
The allegations are strange and troubling. We’ll offer a rough summary and hit the highlights; you can read a more detailed account in the lengthy CBC News article.
Here’s what happened, according to Alex Chapman. In 2002, Chapman hired Jack King and King’s law firm, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, to represent him in divorce proceedings. A few months after they first met, King invited Chapman out for drinks and mentioned a porn site called DarkCavern.com, focused on interracial sex, especially between white women and black — or should that be African-Canadian? — men. CBC News reports:
King supplied him with a password, Chapman said, and told him to look at a section called “Our White Princesses,” where white women post photos to attract black men. Numerous nude photos of King’s wife, who was a lawyer at the same firm her husband worked at, were posted there, Chapman said.
“I wanted to puke,” Chapman said. “[The pictures] were disgusting. I couldn’t believe my lawyer was doing this to me.”
Of course you couldn’t believe it. Your lawyer let you see naked pictures of his wife. Have you ever heard of an attorney so committed to making his clients happy?
Make that very happy. King didn’t limit himself to photo sharing, according to Chapman:
Over the next few weeks, Chapman said King sent him more pictures of his wife and continued to encourage him to engage in a sexual relationship with her….
It apparently wasn’t the first time King sought out a black man to have sex with his wife. An ad on the Darkcavern site, seen by CBC News, shows nude photos of Douglas and seeks a “smooth black male or Mexican” to join the couple during an trip to Cancun in February 2002.
Sometimes angry litigants will say things like “f**k that judge,” but how many get to do so quite literally?
(Of course, it should be noted that Lori Douglas at the time was pre-robescent, i.e., not yet a judge. These events allegedly took place around 2002, and she wasn’t appointed to the bench until 2005.)
For better or worse, nothing ever came of Jack King’s attempts to pimp out his wife:
As Chapman’s divorce was wrapping up, he said he eventually agreed to meet King and his wife at a Winnipeg restaurant, fearing his lawyer would not properly represent him if he didn’t comply. King left Chapman alone with Douglas, and they chatted, according to Chapman’s July 14, 2010, complaint to the Manitoba Law Society. In his complaint, Chapman described the meeting as feeling like “a first date.”
Chapman said the couple invited him to their home in Birds Hill, northeast of Winnipeg, but he never went and he denies ever having sexual relations with Douglas.
When his divorce concluded, Chapman said he filed a complaint to the managing partners at Thompson Dorfman Sweatman. Soon after the complaint, King left the firm.
According to King’s lawyer, King was suffering from depression at the time of these events.
Chapman received a $25,000 cash payment from King in return for promises not to take legal action against King and his partners. As part of the settlement, Chapman said he was required to not speak about the matter and to destroy all emails, photos and other materials sent to him by King. He said he signed, but kept the material.
After seven years of silence, however, Chapman decided to come forward, saying he felt distraught about the matter for a long time and worried it may have influence in civil court cases he’s involved in, which is related to the divorce he obtained in 2003. CBC News has seen no evidence of such influence.
And Chapman may have another reason for coming forward. Despite receiving the $25K, it seems that Chapman wants to take a bite from a second apple (because, as Elie recently noted on TV, who doesn’t like two apples?):
Chapman said he plans to sue both Douglas and King for sexual harassment and discrimination.
“I decided I’m tired of protecting Lori Douglas, Jack King and all these people in a legal field who conduct themselves inappropriately and get away with it,” Chapman said.
Regardless of his claims against Jack King, does Alex Chapman have a case against Justice Douglas? In fairness to Her Honor, it appears that she was unaware of her husband’s alleged activities, in terms of both encouraging a client to have sex with her and posting nude pictures of her on the internet. As Jezebel argues, the judge should be seen as the victim here.
(Speaking of “seeing” Justice Douglas, if you’re hoping to peek at those nudie pics, we have some disappointing news for you: her photos have been removed from the Dark Cavern website, according to CBC. Justice Douglas declined to comment for CBC’s story — so we don’t know why she agreed to pose for these pics in the first place, even if she never expected them to wind up online.)
Even if Douglas didn’t know about or consent to the activities of her (soon-to-be-ex?) husband, the situation could still present problems for her:
An Ottawa legal expert said that even if Douglas, who was appointed a judge in 2005, was the unwitting victim of a scheme, the presence of the photos on the internet raises issues about her ability to perform as a judge.
(Even if the pics dispel issues about her ability to perform in other contexts….)
“If pictures of you naked end up on an internet site, it’s quite difficult to say you have the credibility to be a judge,” said Sébastien Grammond, dean of civil law at the University of Ottawa.
Can a judge retain her full credibility and authority in the courtroom, even if litigants and members of the public have seen what lies underneath her robes?
UPDATE: For some subsequent developments, see here.
[FN1] To check out video of the full discussion between Justice Ginsburg, Chief Justice McLachlin, Judge Robert Henry, and NPR’s Nina Totenberg, surf over to C-SPAN.
Nude photos of judge contained in complaint [CBC News]
Manitoba judge featured on porn website, report says [Toronto Star]
Winnipeg judge embroiled in sex scandal [Toronto Sun via ABA Journal]
Manitoba judge, lawyer face probe over past personal lives [Winnipeg Free Press via ABA Journal]
Judge’s Husband Puts Nude Pix Online, Screws Them Both [Jezebel]
In Canada’s Supreme Court, Cameras are No Big Deal [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Life in the Federal Judiciary [C-SPAN]