Canada Disgraced ex-judge Robin Camp said he's learned his lesson

05:07  15 november  2017
05:07  15 november  2017 Source:   Calgary Herald

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Saying he’s a changed man since questioning the conduct of a sexual-assault complainant, former judge Robin Camp said Tuesday he should be allowed to return to life as a lawyer.

Camp, who resigned as a federal judge last March in the face of expulsion for asking a 19-year-old woman in 2014 why she didn’t “keep her knees together” during an alleged sexual assault, told an Alberta Law Society panel that he’s grown from the experience, aided by counselling.

“I learned I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was, I learned there was a whole area of life I knew nothing  about … I learned kindness,” said the South Africa-born Camp, 65.

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“I still have contributions to make as a lawyer, I have a good five or 10 years in me.”

He also said he wanted to deliver a personal apology to the woman in the contentious case but was advised not to.

And while he said the Canadian criminal justice system is similar to that of South Africa’s, his native country’s approach to sexual assault was more archaic.

The Canadian Judicial Council had recommended Camp be removed from the bench for making a number of controversial statements in the Calgary sexual-assault trial, including asking why the complainant didn’t push her bottom into a bathroom sink to avoid intercourse with the accused.

He also referred to her several times as “the accused.”

Those comments led to the retrial of accused Alexander Wager, who was subsequently acquitted a second time last January.

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Five witnesses testified before the three-member panel that Camp was a competent legal practitioner and man of upstanding character.

Legal administrator Laureen Alar said he was an exemplary boss during his time as a provincial court judge.

“He was always polite, always gentlemanly and respectful,” said Alar.

Though he voiced frustration over the complaint over the sexual-assault trial, she added “he never said anything you could consider nasty, discriminatory or hostile.”

Camp’s legal acumen was solid and his character equally so, said Justice Brian Bell, who was a colleague on the Federal Court.

“I have seen nothing to lead me to believe Camp harbours homophobic or sexist sentiments,” Bell said in response to queries by Camp’s attorney, prominent defence lawyer Alain Hepner.

“He chooses his words carefully.”

Camp told the panel if reinstated as a lawyer, he’d prefer to practise commercial, corporate and environmental law, and ruled out the criminal field.

A law society lawyer asked Camp and the witnesses no questions, adding the body is neutral on the matter.

But society executive director Don Thompson said the case would be weighed carefully, though admitted the body has no guidelines on handling it.

“No one has any recollections of a judge returning to practise under these circumstances,” said Thompson.

The main question confronting the society, he said, is whether reinstating Camp “will bring the legal profession into disrepute.”

Hepner and the law society will produce legal submissions over the next month with a decision on reinstatement coming in the new year.

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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