‘Knees together’ judge Robin Camp wins bid to be reinstated as lawyer in Alberta
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated on the evening of May 23, 2018 to include details about what happened at the retrial of a man whom Robin Camp acquitted of sexual assault.
A former judge who resigned from his position after coming under fire for asking a rape complainant why she couldn’t keep her knees together has won the right to practise law in Alberta again.
“Following a public hearing on Nov. 17, 2017 and careful consideration through a public hearing process, Robin Camp’s application to be reinstated as a lawyer in Alberta was approved on May 22,” the Law Society of Alberta said in a news release issued on Wednesday.
“Mr. Camp has learned from his mistakes,” reads the decision of the three-member committee that was reviewing Camp’s application.
The committee pointed out practising as a lawyer is different than being a judge and “those differences are significant to the outcome of this application, particularly when considered in light of the evidence of Mr. Camp’s rehabilitation.”
“Parties before the court do not choose their judge. Judges must be impartial and unbiased in adjudicating upon the rights of the parties before them and deciding the outcome of their case. In contrast, parties typically have the ability to choose their own counsel. Moreover, the lawyer’s role is to advocate his or her client’s position to the fullest extent of the law and to advance his or her best interests.”
Watch below: In November 2017, David Boushy filed this report about Robin Camp wanting to practise law again.
In 2014, Camp acquitted Alexander Wagar, a man accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman, after ruling the man’s version of events was more credible than hers. Camp’s verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.
Court transcripts reveal Camp questioned the complainant’s morals, said her attempts to fight off an attack were ineffectual and on multiple occasions referred to her as the “accused.”
In January 2017, Wagar had charges dismissed for a second time at his retrial. The judge said the decision came down to reasonable doubt because there was no forensic evidence and citing inconsistencies from both the complainant and the accused.
Camp stepped down from Federal Court in March following a Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) recommendation that he be removed from the bench.
Watch below: In March 2017, Jill Croteau filed this report after Robin Camp resigned from being a judge.
In November, Camp told a law society hearing he has changed and would not return to criminal law.
The three-member committee that heard Camp’s application to be reinstated as a lawyer was made up of two lawyers and a member of the public.
“The committee heard and considered the in-person evidence provided by Mr. Camp and his witnesses, and reviewed the written evidence and written submissions provided by the Law Society of Alberta and Mr. Camp,” the law society said on Wednesday. “It also considered evidence and submissions related to rehabilitation, including evidence from three expert witnesses who testified before the Canadian Judicial Council.”
The committee’s decision said it “does not condone Mr. Camp’s conduct in the Wagar trial or that carried through to his written decision — far from it.”
“The committee also does not condone conduct among lawyers which demonstrates — or perpetuates — inequality or gender bias or treats marginalized or vulnerable members of society with disrespect,” the decision goes on to say. “All of those were issues before the CJC when considering the conduct of Mr. Camp — as a judge — and the effect of his conduct as such on the reputation of the judiciary and administration of justice at large.”
The decision to readmit Camp to the Law Society of Alberta is conditional on him engaging with the “Practice Management Department prior to practising law, to support him in his return to practice.”
“It is important to note that as a reinstated lawyer, Mr. Camp will be held to the same professional and ethical standards of all lawyers in Alberta,” the law society said.
Camp had to apply to be reinstated because former judges cannot appear in court without the approval of the law society.
When the details about Camp’s controversial actions while presiding over the Wagar trial surfaced, a public outcry followed and prominent politicians spoke out about the need for judges to receive additional training about sex assaults.
Watch below: In 2017, Rona Ambrose tabled a private bill calling for judges and lawyers to receive training when it comes to sexual assault cases.
-With files from The Canadian Press and Erika Tucker
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