Alberta judge says his removal from bench would be ‘counterproductive’

Alberta judge says his removal from bench would be ‘counterproductive’
Justice Robin Camp is asking to oral submissions through his lawyers to the Canadian Judicial Council. Photo: Canadian Press

An Alberta judge heavily criticized for remarks he made during a sexual assault trial has asked again to make oral arguments to the Canadian Judicial Council, in his fight to remain on the bench.

Federal Court Justice Robin Camp — who made controversial remarks during a 2014 trial at the Provincial Court of Alberta — has been at the centre of an inquiry by the council, and is battling to keep his job.

Last November, an inquiry committee for the council in charge of reviewing Camp’s conduct unanimously recommended that he be removed from the bench.

However, in a response to the committee made available on Jan. 6, Camp has asked the council “to find that his misconduct was the product of unconscious bias and remediable ignorance.”

“Justice Camp’s misconduct was the product of ignorance, not animus. His legal decision making was reasonable,” said the submission, submitted by Camp’s counsel.

“He apologized and rehabilitated himself. In the circumstances, the ultimate sanction of removal is counterproductive.”

In the submission, Camp reiterated a request to make oral submissions through his counsel.

“The notoriety, the evidentiary and policy issues, and the extent of remorse and rehabilitation make this a highly unusual case. Justice Camp is the first judge to fight for his office and his reputation since the Council amended its bylaws in 2010 to remove the express right to oral submissions,” said the submission.

The 25-page submission notes that Camp made “instant, repeated and sincere apologies” and was “quick to acknowledge that he had failed in his judicial duty.”
“He apologized as soon as he was confronted with the law professors’ complaint.

As he came to understand the depth of his error, he apologized again and more fully,” said the submission.

“His apologies developed in exactly the way one would expect from an ethical jurist confronted with an unknown personal failing, who gradually comes to understand the nature of the problem.”

However, in its findings released last fall, the committee stated “that Justice Camp’s conduct in the Wagar Trial was so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judicial role that public confidence is sufficiently undermined to render the Judge incapable of executing the judicial office.”

“Accordingly, the Inquiry Committee expresses the unanimous view that a recommendation by Council for Justice Camp’s removal is warranted,” said the report and recommendation of the Inquiry Committee to the Canadian Judicial Council.

Kim Stanton, legal director for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, said Camp “had a fulsome opportunity to make his case before the Committee during the hearing in September.”

“The question for the Council is not whether the judge is sorry, but whether public confidence in the judge is sufficiently undermined to render him or her incapable of executing judicial office in the future in light of his or her conduct to date.”

“The test is to be considered from the perspective of a reasonable and well-informed person,” she said.

“As stated by the Coalition (of which LEAF was a member) in our submission to the CJC Committee that conducted the inquiry in this matter, the reasonable person must include the perspective of survivors of sexual assault, and marginalized women generally, as they are entitled to a judiciary that rejects sexual myths and stereotypes and understands and respects equality.”

Frank Addario, a Toronto-based lawyer acting for Camp in the matter, said he no additional comment on the matter.

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