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Alberta judge in ‘knees together’ case should be removed from bench: lawyer

Click to play video: 'Closing arguments heard in ‘knees together’ hearing'
Closing arguments heard in ‘knees together’ hearing
WATCH ABOVE: Closing arguments were heard Monday as a hearing for Alberta Justice Robin Camp continues. Global’s Jill Croteau reports – Sep 12, 2016

A lawyer presenting the case against a federal judge over comments he made to a sexual assault complainant says there’s sufficient evidence to remove Robin Camp from the bench.

Scroll down to follow along live with Global’s Jill Croteau

READ MORE: Alberta Justice Robin Camp in ‘knees together’ case admits ‘non-existent’ knowledge of criminal law

Marjorie Hickey told a Canadian Judicial Council hearing Monday that Camp’s remarks — including his asking the woman why she couldn’t keep her knees together — are enough to “shock the conscience and shake the confidence of the public.”

In her closing submissions to a five-member panel, Hickey noted some mitigating factors such as Camp’s apology and his willingness to educate himself.

However, she said, there’s reason to question how much Camp actually learned.

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Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the case

Hickey pointed out that Camp called the complainant a “fragile personality” earlier in the hearing — even though she had the courage to participate in her sexual assault trial and the inquiry.

Camp’s lawyer suggested the judge had an “education problem, not a character problem.” Frank Addario also said Camp has gone to great lengths to learn about the issue of sexual assault.

Removing Camp would send the wrong message to other judges who seek to improve themselves, Addario said in his written submissions filed to the panel.

“The easy thing for the committee to do is remove Justice Camp. It sends a simple message to equality seekers, frustrated by decades of slow progress in changing attitudes,” he wrote.

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“It responds to the calls for the judiciary to separate themselves from this individual and make a statement that Canadian judges are ‘better than this.’ But it is not the most effective result. Nor is it the result that will most improve long-term public confidence in the judiciary.”

Below: Follow along with Global’s Jill Croteau, who is in court Monday. Story continues below.

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Addario argued that Camp is not alone in the judiciary in having a “knowledge deficit” around the issue of sexual assault.

“The social problem is ubiquitous. The effect on the judiciary of the social problem is likewise widespread. It is not realistic to imagine that a parliamentary decision removing His Honour will correct all knowledge deficits.”

Hickey sought to poke holes in Camp’s argument that he was ignorant.

“Justice Camp knew the law,” she told the panel, yet his attitudes “shone through in a pervasive and glaring manner.”

READ MORE: Alberta Justice Robin Camp apologizes at hearing over ‘knees together’ comment

Some of Camp’s commentary during the trial `”smacks of paternalism and sexism” and reflects a “boys will be boys” mentality, she said.

Camp has apologized for his “rude and insulting” attitude toward the then 19-year-old woman when he was a provincial court judge in Calgary in 2014.

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

Court transcripts from the trial show he told the woman that “pain and sex sometimes go together” and referred to her as “the accused” — a mistake he repeated during the disciplinary hearing before quickly correcting himself.

Camp acquitted the man, but the verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.

READ MORE: Retired justice weighs in on training for judges amid Alberta Justice Robin Camp hearing

Hickey said the case is about whether public confidence can be maintained if Camp stays on the bench. She acknowledged the threshold for removal is high and the option has seldom been used.

The panel will report to the full Canadian Judicial Council, which will make a final recommendation to the federal justice minister.

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