November 14, 2017 7:46 am
Updated: November 14, 2017 6:15 pm

Former Alberta judge Robin Camp seeks to practice law again in reinstatement hearing

WATCH: Robin Camp, the federal judge who stepped down after inappropriate comments he made during a 2014 sexual assault trial, wants to practise law again. On Tuesday, he made his case before the Law Society of Alberta. As David Boushy reports, Camp said he’s a better man now.

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A former judge who resigned over his treatment of a sexual assault complainant made his case Tuesday for why he should be allowed to practise law again.

The Law Society of Alberta held a day-long reinstatement hearing for Robin Camp in Calgary.

READ MORE: A look at the legal career and trial that led to judge Robin Camp controversy

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Camp stepped down from Federal Court in March following a Canadian Judicial Council recommendation that he be removed from the bench.

Court transcripts from the 2014 sexual assault trial show that Camp – a provincial court judge in Calgary at the time – called the complainant “the accused” numerous times and asked her why she didn’t resist by keeping her knees together.

READ MORE: Mandatory sex assault training for judges will fix gap in Canadian justice system: Rona Ambrose

Camp found the accused, Alexander Wagar, not guilty, but the Appeal Court ordered a new trial that resulted in him being acquitted for a second time.

Bell said the headlines calling Camp the “knees-together judge” don’t reflect the person he knows.

“He’s just a very, very good person.”

After he stepped down from the bench, Camp spent some time consulting for The Rebel, but was ultimately not employed by the online conservative website.

“I don’t speak for Camp,” Rebel founder Ezra Levant said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

“He did some work for me back when he was a lawyer. Over several weeks, we explored whether there could be a role for him at The Rebel. During that time, he helped with some administrative work but did no legal work. We both agreed the was no role for him at the Rebel and ultimately, he was never employed by us.”

Karen Hansen, representing the law society at the hearing, said the group is taking a neutral stance. She said the panel has to make a very difficult decision.

“The question of the panel is whether Mr. Camp’s reinstatement would tend to harm the reputation of the legal profession,” she said in her opening remarks.

Camp has apologized for his remarks as a judge and has undergone training and counselling.

When law society members become judges, they are automatically no longer part of the organization.

The law society said that when a former judge applies to be reinstated as a lawyer, the steps taken depend on whether he or she retired in good standing or was otherwise removed from the bench.

The application may be approved quickly if the person satisfies competency and conduct requirements, but in other cases it’s more complicated.

“If there are concerns around credentials and education or competency to practise law, the individual may be referred to various committees comprised of benchers (law society board members) and volunteers for further review,” the society said in an emailed statement earlier this month.

“The law society may investigate to see if the individual has previous disciplinary proceedings or criminal convictions, and may refer the application to the conduct committee if such concerns are identified.”

Camp, who was born in South Africa, originally had a legal-aid practice which included some criminal law. As he became more senior, he took on mostly litigation cases.

An agreed statement of facts said he was involved in the anti-apartheid movement and represented members of the African National Congress.

After moving to Calgary in 1998, his practice focused mainly on contractual, bankruptcy and trust law, as well as on oil and gas litigation.

He was named an Alberta provincial court judge in 2012, but did not receive training or judicial education on sexual assault law or how to conduct sex assault trials.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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