Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sometimes the Law Really is an Ass

"Is there not a possibility that a very unhappy thing happened here? Two young people made love, and somebody came afterwards and poisoned the girl’s mind?"
"[If the alleged victim] knew she was drunk … was not an onus on her to be more careful?"
"She certainly had the ability, perhaps learned from her experience on the streets, to tell [him] to fuck off."
"Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the [bathroom] basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?"
"Certainly the complainant and the accused are amoral people ... the complainant and the accused’s morality, their sense of values, leaves a lot to be desired."
"The accused hasn’t explained why she allowed the sex to happen if she didn’t want it."
Alberta Justice Robin Camp
"I have come to recognize that things that I said and attitudes I displayed during the trial of this matter, and in my decision, caused deep and significant pain to many people," wrote Federal Court Justice Robin Camp.
Federal Court Justice Robin Camp -- Alberta Justice/Calgary Herald
"[Although it is] the right of everyone in the Canadian legal community to insist on high standards in the administration of justice [one can only be] troubled by the public campaign for Justice Camp's removal. He cannot defend himself or rebut these attacks in the media."
"This is why professional conduct rules across Canada place 'special responsibility' on lawyers criticizing judges."
Frank Addario, lawyer for Justice Camp
The complaint against him, filed by four law professors from the University of Calgary and Dalhousie University states: "at numerous points during the proceeding, Justice Camp was dismissive of, if not contemptuous toward, the substantive law of sexual assault and the rules of evidence. [He was] frequently sarcastic and disrespectful to Crown counsel when she attempted to explain to him how these rules work, [and his] articulated disrespect for these legal rules was, in some instances, combined with a refusal to apply them."

Such wisdom handed down by an Alberta provincial judge hearing a case of a 250-lb. belligerent man sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in the bathroom of his apartment where a casual get-together was taking place. Why didn't she resist, why didn't she scream for help, why didn't she fight off her attacker? All questions that the esteemed justice put to the complainant, busy demolishing whatever self-esteem the young woman had left to her. Obviously, women are willing accomplices to violent rape. Well, that happened in 2014.

Since then this man's judicial wisdom and folksy recommendations (in his finding of not guilty, Justice Camp informed the rapist that men must be more gentle and careful with women, something he should tell his friends to enable them to "protect themselves" not "get into trouble".) have been awarded the kind of recognition that someone in his profession salivates over; an appointment to the Federal Court. And then, someone got upset and spilled the beans that Justice Robin Camp had strewn all over his reputation, and the details hit the news and women were very, very agitated. Some of those women are law professors, and they were troubled enough to lodge an official complaint.

And now, belatedly, but perhaps never too late, the Canadian Judicial Council has placed Justice Camp's professional conduct of that trial under investigation. While remonstrating with the young woman who brought her complaint of rape against her attacker that she must surely have invited the rape and she would do better to behave in a more seemly fashion in future, he admonished the man, and giving him the credit of the doubt, acquitted him of sexually assaulting the complainant.

Thankfully, that verdict was overturned on appeal and another trial will ensue, to ensure that the young woman who must surely have the courage of her conviction that she should have something to say about whether or not she is interested in having carnal relations with some brutish lout, will undergo another reprise of the horror, fear and disgust she felt when she was attacked. For his even-handed pains in acquitting the rapist and blaming the victim, Justice Camp has been removed from cases.

It seems that the more sober-minded within the august legal community to which this man had been elevated in June after his distinguished career as a provincial court judge in Calgary, thought better of the qualifications of a man who would address a woman on the witness stand by asking: "When your ankles were held together by your jeans, your skinny jeans, why couldn't you just keep your knees together?" Needless to say, once all of this disgraceful behaviour was brought to light, Justice Camp apologized.

And he is slated to attend sensitivity training sessions. Will they really help a man who has grown to maturity in the legal profession no less, and still retains such antediluvian theories? "There is a significant public interest in raising awareness about judicial attitudes and perspectives that are wildly out of sync with modern thinking and dramatically inconsistent with the values reflected in laws addressing problems such as sexual violence" reads in part the letter that Alice Woolley, one of the four law professors complaining to the CJC wrote to the Canadian Judicial Council.

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