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article imageJudge Robin Camp, the 'knees together judge,' resigns from bench

By Arthur Weinreb     Mar 10, 2017 in Crime
Ottawa - Justice Robin Camp, known as the “knees together judge,” announced his resignation from the Federal Court of Canada. The resignation came after the Canadian Judicial Council recommended to Parliament he be removed from the bench.
Yesterday, Camp issued a statement saying he was resigning from the bench effective today. The statement, released by the justice’s lawyer, read, “Effective March 10, I will resign as a member of the Federal Court of Canada. I would like to express my sincere apology to everyone who was hurt by my comments.”
Jody Wilson-Reybould, Canada’s Minister of Justice, was in the process of preparing documentation to place before Parliament to follow the Canadian Judicial Council’s recommendation when she was informed of Camp’s decision to resign. Wilson-Reybould told the media gender-based violence and sexual assault are never acceptable and the government will always stand up for victims.
Camp made offending comments while a judge on Alberta’s Provincial Court
In 2014, while Camp was a provincial court judge, he presided over the trial of Alexander Scott Wagar. Wagar faced one count of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman.
During the course of the trial, Camp repeatedly referred to the complainant as “the accused.” The woman had testified she was raped over a sink. Camp then asked her why she could not have simply sunk further into the sink to avoid penetration. In a question that had the media around the world refer to him as the “knees together judge,” Camp also asked the woman why she did not just keep her knees together, again to prevent penetration.
The woman testified she was drunk when she was assaulted. During the trial, the judge asked the Crown Attorney whether, because she was drunk, any special words were necessary to give consent, necessary words as are found in a marriage ceremony.
Camp also said pain was not necessarily bad and wondered why the woman did not scream.
As a result of those comments, the Crown appealed and complaints were made to the CJC. The Alberta Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal and ordered a new trial. In a later trial before another judge, Wagar was again found not guilty of the charge.
SEE ALSO: Hearing begins for judge who demeaned sex assault victim
Committee of the Canadian Judicial Committee recommended removal
The year following Wagar’s initial trial, Camp was elevated to the Federal Court of Canada. This gave jurisdiction over his matter to the federal judicial committee. A hearing was held and late last year, a committee of the CJC recommended Camp be removed from the bench. The report of the committee was then forwarded to the entire council to issue a recommendation to the Minister of Justice.
The committee found Camp relied on “myths and stereotypes” that had long been discredited. Committee members also found the comments Camp made during the trial showed “an antipathy towards laws designed to protect vulnerable witnesses, promote equality, and bring integrity to sexual assault trials.”
The committee also said Camp’s comments made during the trial were incompatible with the requirements set out in the Judges Act and therefore Camp should be removed from the bench.
SEE ALSO: Inquiry finds ‘knees together judge’ should be removed from the bench
What the CJC said in report to Minister of Justice
During the proceedings before the CJC, Camp fought to keep his job. His main argument was the remarks he made were made in ignorance rather than from animus. He argued since the 2014 trial he has taken courses in gender sensitivity and learned the law on sexual assault.
While the CJC did not disbelieve what Camp testified to, the judicial body said his argument “missed the most serious point.” The CJC found Camp’s remarks were antithetical to the contemporary values of our judicial system.”
According to the report, in addition to knowing the law judges are expected to be aware of changing social values and possess humility, empathy, tolerance and consideration and respect for others. Judges must also be able to recognize personal beliefs they hole that may prevent them from acting fairly and be able to deal with that.
The CJC concluded Camp failed to meet these high standards and his actions and comments “seriously undermined public confidence in the judiciary.” For those reasons he must be removed from the bench.
The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of 23 members. Four of the judges on the committee dissented and agreed with Camp his removal was not warranted.
Since the Canadian Judicial Council was created in 1971, Camp was only the third judge whose removal from the bench by Parliament was recommended. In all three cases, the judges resigned before they could be removed.
The report of the Canadian Judicial Council to the Justice Minister can be read here.
More about justice robin camp, knees together judge, canadian judicial council, judge resigns from bench, jody wilsonreybould
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