WINNIPEG — For a time, Jack King kept a set of intimate Polaroid photos of his wife buried in his sock drawer.
These were the first of the approximately 100 to 150 photos King snapped of Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas between 1996 and early 2003, the Winnipeg lawyer testified in his brief first appearance before the Canadian Judicial Council inquiry on Monday.
Dressed in a dark grey suit and leaning on a cane, King walked slowly to the stand for the first of what will almost certainly be hours of questioning. The questions he will face, inquiry lawyer Guy Pratt acknowledged, “will not be easy” to discuss.
Still, King answered the first round of questions quietly but with detail, occasionally gazing out at the roughly 25 reporters and observers seated in the Broadway courtroom.
As for the photos in the sock drawer, King said, he never told Douglas they were there; she never mentioned knowing about them. “From that,” King quietly told the inquiry panel, “I deduce that she did not know.”
Not all of the photos, of course, would stay in the sock drawer. In 2003, King approached Alex Chapman, whom King was representing in a divorce case, and urged him to view nude photos of Douglas on a website that fetishized sex acts between black men and white women.
That act would lead to a $25,000 settlement between King and Chapman, which the latter breached in 2010 when he went public with his story.
That triggered a chain of events that led to King being disciplined by the Law Society of Manitoba, and the judicial council striking an inquiry to determine if Douglas herself committed any wrongdoing.
The judge has stated in an affidavit that she was completely unaware her husband had posted the photos online before Chapman approached King for a settlement. To this point, witness testimony at the inquiry has largely supported that claim.
King will resume his testimony today at 9:45 a.m.
Most of Monday’s proceedings were dominated by cross-examination of Ian Histed, who negotiated the 2003 settlement as Chapman’s lawyer, and represented Chapman in two lawsuits against Winnipeg police.
Histed said he warned Chapman at that time to destroy all copies of images of Douglas, as per the terms of the settlement, and not to discuss the issue with anyone.
In 2005, after Douglas was appointed to the bench, Histed learned that there was an unwritten rule in court scheduling that he was not to appear in her courtroom.
But that was “probably a good idea,” Histed noted. “The concern was, obviously, (having seen photos of) her without her clothes on.”
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 24, 2012