Legal Ethics

Judge to end case over nude photos posted online by her husband by retiring from bench

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As a 10-day hearing was set to begin Monday in a legal ethics case over nude photos of a senior Canadian judge, a lawyer for the Manitoba jurist asked that the case be dropped because her client plans to retire in May.

Although the graphic photos were posted on the Internet by her late husband without Justice Lori Douglas’ permission, the Queen’s Bench judge is facing a charge that the photos, by their nature, undermine public confidence in the judicial system. Douglas also is charged with failing to disclose the photos were posted on the Internet when applying for a seat on the bench a decade ago and allegedly altering a personal diary after she learned the Canadian Judicial Council was pursuing the ethics case.

A ruling is expected Monday afternoon from the three-judge panel in Winnipeg hearing the ethics case, as to whether it will proceed following the settlement between the council and Douglas, reports the Canadian Press. The Winnipeg Sun also has a story.

Once Douglas retires, the photos in the council’s possession will be returned to her.

The ethics case has ignited controversy over the extent to which Douglas should be held responsible, if at all, for her husband’s admitted misconduct concerning lawful photography that some consider demeaning to women. Recently, Douglas won a temporary federal court order banning the three-judge ethics panel from viewing the photos as part of the hearing, arguing that doing so was unnecessary and humiliating to her, the Canadian Press reported.

“This was classic revenge porn,” said her lawyer, Sheila Block, in a Toronto court hearing last week. “Suppose the judge was raped and somebody put it on YouTube?”

Some observers have also questioned whether the case reflects a bias against women, and say Douglas is being publicly shamed concerning a matter in which she is the victim.

Related coverage: “Judge Faces Disciplinary Hearing Over Photos Posted by Attorney Husband on the Internet” “Lawyer Apologizes to His Wife, a Prominent Judge, for Pressuring Ex-Client to Have Sex with Her” “Legal Ethics Trial of Canadian Judge Could Be Doomed By ‘Incontestable’ Bias of Tribunal Counsel” “New Fireworks in Ethics Trial of Prominent Canadian Judge, as Quasi-Prosecutor Steps Down”

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