For most of the time that she has been in the public spotlight, coming up on two years, Madam Justice Lori Douglas — the Canadian judge featured in pornographic pictures showing her engaging in bondage, playing with sex toys, and administering oral sex — has maintained a steady silence. Her husband (and the man who got her into this mess in the first place), lawyer Jack King, has spoken out, publicly apologizing for his misconduct. But Justice Douglas has been quiet.
Until now. Justice Douglas has come forward to share her side of the story — and to refute the allegations made against her in a Canadian Judicial Council inquiry that will determine if she will remain on the bench.
What does Justice Douglas have to say in her defense?
We aren’t going to repeat all of the background about Justice Douglas, a member of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench; her husband, Jack King (who took racy photos of Justice Douglas that wound up on the internet); and Alex Chapman, the former client of Jack King who (bizarrely) sued Justice Douglas and Jack King for sexual harassment. All of this has been amply discussed in our prior coverage.
Let’s focus on what’s new, namely, Justice Douglas’s defense. Here’s a report from CBC News:
In a written response to the Canadian Judicial Council obtained by CBC News, Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas says she “has been the victim of wrongdoing” by her husband, lawyer Jack King, and by Alex Chapman, the man who filed the complaint against her….
“The notice of allegation states that Ms. Douglas knowingly participated with King in the sexual harassment of Chapman. This charge against Douglas … is a complete fabrication. She has been the victim of wrongdoing by both her husband (King) and Chapman,” the statement says.
“Her husband, in acts of unimaginable betrayal, in pursuit of a mad and undisclosed fantasy, solicited Chapman to have sex with … Ms. Douglas,” it adds.
I’ve seen photos of Chapman and Douglas, and the idea of them getting together in a chocolate-and-vanilla swirl doesn’t really float my boat. But to each his own in this wild and wacky world of ours.
One of the allegations against Justice Douglas is that she failed to disclose potentially embarrassing information about herself during the process of applying to become a judge. Here’s Justice Douglas’s response, as noted by the Winnipeg Free Press:
Douglas defended that charge, saying the facts of what happened “were well known in the legal community” and even by the judicial committee which appointed her — right down to details about the nude photo which Douglas describes as “graphic, explicit pictures including bondage.” Even the Chief Justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench was aware of the issue and supported her bid to become a judge, the documents state.
“Senior members of the bench and bar made it clear to Ms. Douglas that her husband’s conduct did not reflect negatively on her. She was urged by them to apply for judicial appointment,” her lawyers say. Douglas believed the nude photos of her had been destroyed as a result of the 2003 settlement between King and Chapman and had no reason to think otherwise.
This is a nice jujitsu-style move. Justice Douglas is taking a weakness — widespread gossip in the legal community about her nude photos — and turning it into a strength.
Over at Canada.com, Christie Blatchford has some excellent commentary on L’Affaire Douglas. She writes:
If it looks like a witch hunt and stinks like a witch hunt, it’s probably a witch hunt, however it’s dressed up. So it is with the Canadian Judicial Council’s release Thursday of the formal allegations against Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas.
Blatchford points out that Chapman, the accuser of Justice Douglas, “was convicted of arson, theft and uttering death threats in 1993, but legally changed his name and got a pardon.” He doesn’t sound like the most trustworthy complainant, does he?
Here’s how Blatchford’s column — you can read the whole thing here — concludes:
[W]hen the CJC’s inquiry committee first ruled on this, last month, it found that “it is in the public interest that even very weak claims be publicly tried,” legal politesse for, “This is a really crappy case but we’re moving on with it anyway so we don’t seem to be hiding anything.”
Finally, as [Douglas's lawyer Sheila] Block put it so magnificently in part of her response, “a candidate is not measured by the conduct of his or her family members.”
Nor should a judge be so measured, or to put it in plainer English, fitted for the stake.
Indeed. If Justice Douglas enjoys being tied to a stake, in the privacy of her own home, that’s nobody’s business but her own (and her husband’s). It has no bearing on her fitness as a judge.
Quite frankly, I’m surprised at why this has become such a big deal in Canada. I have always viewed our neighbors to the north as being less uptight and less puritanical about matters of sexual morality than we are. See, e.g., their stance on gay marriage.
As we have previously stated, we are also on Justice Douglas’s side in this dispute. We wish her the best of luck in the hearings taking place next month.
Probe of Justice Lori Douglas’s nude pics scandal smacks of witch hunt [Canada.com]
Douglas denies charges ahead of hearing [Winnipeg Free Press]
Manitoba judge denies sex allegations against her [CBC News]
Notice of Allegations to Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas [Canadian Judicial Council]
Response of Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas to the Notice of Allegations [Canadian Judicial Council]