Justice Robin Camp resigns following CJC report

Justice Robin Camp resigns following CJC report
Justice Robin Camp has resigned as a member of the Federal Court of Canada.
Justice Robin Camp has resigned following a report to the Minister of Justice from the Canadian Judicial Council recommending he be removed from office.

“I have advised Chief Justice Crampton that effective March 10, 2017 I will resign as a member of the Federal Court of Canada,” Camp said in a statement released by his lawyer.

“I would like to express my sincere apology to everyone who was hurt by my comments during the Wagar trial. I thank everyone who was generous and kind to me and my family in the last 15 months, particularly my legal team. I will not be answering any media inquiries today. If you have questions I ask you to direct them to my lawyer, Frank Addario.”

He signed the statement Robin Camp.

Camp is the judge who asked a sexual assault complainant in a trial why she couldn't "keep her knees together." Transcripts from a 2014 trial showed he called the complainant "the accused" several times and told her "pain and sex sometimes go together."

The CJC recommendation, dated March 8, follows a public inquiry conducted under the Judges Act.

“From the time they are considered for appointment to the Bench, and every day thereafter, superior court judges in Canada are expected to be knowledgeable jurists,” reads the report’s introduction.

“They are also expected to demonstrate a number of personal attributes including knowledge of social issues, an awareness of changes in social values, humility, fairness, empathy, tolerance, consideration and respect for others.”

The council found Camp failed to meet these high standards and “seriously undermined” public confidence in the judiciary.

“We applaud the CJC majority report to the minister that properly confirms that the question here was not whether the judge was apologetic, but rather whether the conduct under review is of such a nature that a reasonable person would lose confidence in the judiciary,” says Kim Stanton, legal director at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, which was an intervener in the case.

“Here, the CJC determined that Justice Camp’s disrespectful treatment of the complainant was so antithetical to the values of the judicial system that his removal was the only manner in which to maintain public confidence in the system.”

Four of the 23 members who deliberated disagreed with the decision. In the reasons for voting against the recommendation for removal the dissenting members argued Camp’s request to appear before the council should have been honoured and that, while his comments do amount to judicial misconduct as the majority found, they wanted a sanction short of removal.

The dissenters noted in their reasons that “the full record of proceedings before the Inquiry Committee quite clearly leads to the inference that the Judge's words reflected an unconscious bias, which is remediable, and do not reflect animus or antipathy toward the complainant, women, or the law. The record demonstrates that the Judge was fully apologetic and apologized promptly, sincerely and appropriately.”

The majority disagreed, however, and in their recommendation said:

In our view, the statements made by Justice Camp during the trial and in his decision, the values implicit in those statements and the way in which he conducted himself are so antithetical to the contemporary values of our judicial system with respect to the manner in which complainants in sexual assault case should be treated that, in our view, confidence in the system cannot be maintained unless the system disassociates itself from the image which the Judge, by his statements and approach, represents in the mind of a reasonable member of the public. In this case, that can only be accomplished by his removal from the system which, if he were not removed, he would continue to represent.

“In this instance, the Judge’s misconduct was evidenced over a continued period during the trial,” the report states.

“Some of the Judge’s most egregious comments were repeated in his reasons for decision, issued much later. The reasonable person’s confidence in the Judge’s ability to discharge the duties of office is seriously undermined.”

The recommendation was reached following the unanimous decision the inquiry committee tasked with reviewing Camp’s conduct arrived at on Nov. 29, as Legal Feeds previously reported.

In the inquiry committee’s report Camp’s misconduct in R. v. Wagar, a 2014 sexual assault case in which Camp acquitted the accused but not before making questionable comments to the 19-year-old complainant.

The committee concluded “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.”

A judge may be removed from office only through a joint resolution of Parliament. Because Camp has resigned, it will no longer have to vote on his removal.

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