September 7, 2016 4:22 pm
Updated: September 7, 2016 4:23 pm

21 other judges have made offensive comments to complainants without removal, so Robin Camp should stay: lawyer

Justice Robin Camp is under fire for comments made when he was a provincial court judge in Alberta.

Provincial Court of Alberta
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The fate of Justice Robin Camp, whose comments to a sex assault complainant drove her to contemplate suicide and sparked public outrage when first published in November 2015, is in the hands of a Canadian Judicial Council committee hearing that started Tuesday.

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In his opening submissions, Camp’s lawyer appears to put forward the notion that other judges have gotten away with insensitive, offensive, bigoted comments—so his client should, too.

Scroll down to read the full opening submissions from Frank Addario

Frank Addario wrote whether Camp’s conduct warrants removal “should be based on a comparison with prior similar cases of judicial misconduct.”

He then cited 21 examples of judges showing “bigotry or antipathy towards a person or antipathy towards a person or category of people” who were not removed from their positions, and two cases in which removal was recommended.

READ MORE: Alberta judge who asked sex assault complainant about keeping her knees closed has changed, says mentor

Watch below: Global’s past coverage of the controversy surrounding Robin Camp

One instance involved a judge who terminated a trial upon learning the victim was a lesbian.

“The Review Panel concluded the judge exceeded his jurisdiction and interfered in court proceedings, giving rise to a real apprehension of bias, and the judge should have stopped and declared a  mistrial, having apprehended the bias,” according to Addario’s citation from the Ontario Judicial Council 1998-1999 annual report.

READ MORE: Looming inquiry into federal judge exposes flaws with Canada’s judicial appointment process

Another described a judge who, despite medical evidence, refused to continue a sex assault trial with an HIV-positive complainant who had hepatitis C until the complainant “wore a mask and/or the matter was moved to another courtroom.”

“The judge rejected medical evidence from the Crown without submissions from the parties and indicated the court would have to be reconfigured so he could sit further from the witness,” the document reads. “He dismissed the Crown’s application for a mistrial. Several organizations filed complaints.”

The documents also listed a case involving a Quebec judge whose comments appeared to condone domestic violence, saying: “…on Saturday morning, I had three arraignments and they were all for three men accused of beating women, so to have one who slaps her boyfriend, it feels a bit good, it’s comforting.”

The judge apologized, but his comments were found to be “symptomatic of a sexist attitude.”

“In many cases the comments made by the judges were insensitive, rude, offensive, and evincing of stereotypes,” Addario wrote in his statement. “The judges were not removed either because the comments were not sufficiently serious, or because the judge had apologized and/or had learned from the experience.”

In 2014, Camp berated a sexual assault complainant and asked her why she didn’t “keep [her] knees together” in addition to questioning her morals. Court transcripts show he suggested her attempts to fight off her attacker were feeble and described her as “the accused” throughout the trial.

READ MORE: Sex assault complainant testifies at review of Alberta judge who asked her why she couldn’t keep her knees together

His lawyer is arguing Camp’s behaviour was “qualitatively different” from two additional cases outlined in the documents in which removal was recommended for the judges.

One case involved New Brunswick Judge Jocelyne Moreau-Berube, who suggested during a sentencing hearing that the majority of Acadian Peninsula residents were dishonest.

“The Judicial Council recommended that she be removed from the bench due to an apprehension of bias and loss of public trust,” said the documents.

The second case involved statements made by Superior Court of Quebec Justice Jean Bienvenue during a murder trial for a woman who killed her husband. Justice Bienvenue compared women to men, saying “even the Nazis did not eliminate millions of Jews in a painful and bloody manner. They died in the gas chambers, without suffering.” He also made sexually inappropriate comments, including in relation to a juror’s sexual orientation.

READ MORE: ‘Victim-blaming is still alive and well,’ says Sheldon Kennedy on Alberta judge

Not listed in the opening documents was a consent-related case involving Court of Appeal Justice John McClung, whose comments came under fire in the 1999 case of Steve Ewanchuk, a man who brought a 17-year-old woman into his van for a job interview, then made a series of sexual advances. She said no each time, but he persisted. She testified she was afraid, which is why she didn’t leave or try to fight back, and he was acquitted after arguing her behaviour amounted to “implied consent.”

“It must be pointed out that the complainant did not present herself to Ewanchuk or enter his trailer in a bonnet and crinolines,” McClung said. “The sum of the evidence indicates that Ewanchuk’s advances to the complainant were far less criminal than hormonal.”

The ruling was overturned and Superior Court Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dube criticized McClung’s words as enforcing myths and stereotypes about sexual assault.

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