Thursday, July 26, 2012

Who's zoomin' who

The contrast between Heather Mallick's coverage of the Douglas inquiry and Christie Blatchford's is getting wider every day.
Blatchford decided before the hearing even began that Lori Douglas is virtuous and innocent, while the complainant Alex Chapman is a slimy and duplicitous nutcase.  Mallick, in contrast, has sympathy for Chapman's circumstances and questions how Douglas could have been so ignorant for year after year of everything her husband Jack King was doing.
They agree on only one thing -- that King was and is an offensive buffoon.
I find Mallick to be the better reporter overall -- I get a clearer picture of the inquiry from her stories.  Still, it was in Blatchford's tenth story about the inquiry that we finally found out that Chapman had reason to complain about the cosy-wosy world of Manitoba justice:
Two years ago, when Mr. Chapman decided the confidentiality agreement he’d signed and reaped $25,000 for in 2003 wasn’t worth the paper it was written on and went public with his story, Mr. King was belatedly charged and pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at the Law Society of Manitoba and was reprimanded.
In fact, there’s at least the possibility that had TDS [Thompson Dorfman Sweatman] and the Law Society not so firmly closed ranks around if not Mr. King then Ms. Douglas back in the day, and charged Mr. King with misconduct in a timely way, Mr. Chapman might have been satisfied that he had been properly heard.
As the testimony of Ian Histed, the lawyer who handled Mr. Chapman’s complaint (as well as two of his civil lawsuits against the Winnipeg Police), Mr. Chapman had some reason to regard the Manitoba justice system with suspicion.
Sharp on the heels of Mr. Histed filing Mr. Chapman’s first lawsuit against the police, Mr. Chapman was again arrested in what the lawyer says was a clear tit-for-tat; sharp on the heels of Mr. Histed demanding money from TDS, Mr. Histed was hauled before the Law Society on a complaint from another client and found himself facing a discipline committee with two TDS lawyers on it and one ex-TDS lawyer.
It is, in other words, pretty clear that the Manitoba bar and judiciary is a closed little club, with Mr. Chapman, as a litigious black man, and Mr. Histed, as a John Candy-like character with a big mouth, regarded as crass outsiders.
Mr. King may have been thrown under the bus by his firm — he was fired — but it was a quiet disposal.
Lawyers at the firm were just told Mr. King was leaving (they were shown a prepared statement, which left the room when the managing partners did, presumably to limit the rumour mill), no one reported Mr. King to the Law Society, and though he was treated for depression for almost a year, he nonetheless bounced back and started practicing again.
As for Ms. Douglas, less than two years after the scandal had emerged in its then-discreet and nicely contained way, she was appointed to the Queen’s Bench on her third try, and later elevated to associate chief justice.
From Mr. Chapman’s perspective, it must have looked as though no one much gave a damn that his then-lawyer had, in his words, tried to get him into bed.

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