Justice Robin Camp to make final plea to judicial watchdog

Justice Robin Camp has decided to respond to a report from Canada's judicial watchdog that recommends he lose his job as a Federal Court judge.

Justice Robin Camp to make submission over recommendation he be removed from bench

A five-member inquiry panel recommended Federal Court Justice Robin Camp be removed from the bench over comments he made during a 2014 sexual assault trial when he was an Alberta provincial court judge. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Justice Robin Camp has decided to respond to a report from Canada's judicial watchdog that recommends he lose his job as a Federal Court judge. 

The Canadian Judicial Council told CBC News that Camp is expected to make his submission early in the new year, as he is entitled to do within 30 days of the release of the report from its inquiry committee.

CBC News was unable to reach Camp's lawyer for additional details, but the choice to make further submissions suggests the judge does not intend to resign.

Last month a panel of senior judges and lawyers wrote that Camp's conduct at a 2014 sexual assault trial, when he was an Alberta provincial court judge, was so bad that the public no longer has confidence in him and he should be removed from the bench.

Camp had asked a woman during the rape trial why she couldn't just keep her knees together.

The inquiry committee said Camp blamed the 19-year-old victim for the alleged rape, displayed ignorance and antipathy for sexual assault legislation and was disrespectful to the Crown prosecutor.

Camp made several apologies for his conduct, pursued extra education and underwent therapy.

The Canadian Judicial Council, which is made up of more than two dozen judges, will consider Camp's submission before making a final recommendation about his fate to the federal justice minister.

University of Calgary law professor Alice Woolley describes the process as a kind of appeal. She was among a group of lawyers who made the first complaint to the council about Camp last year. Woolley said she respects his procedural right to make a few more points.

"They [Camp and his lawyer] could argue that there was a legal error. That strikes me as a difficult case to make here. They could argue that the panel didn't take enough account of some facts. He might argue that they should have taken his apology more seriously and just invite them to look at the case in a different way than the review panel did," Woolley said.

Even so, Woolley said, she doesn't think the report gives the council much wriggle room.

"I was very impressed with the quality and thoroughness of the report and I would be very surprised if it wasn't upheld by the second body; that's the outcome that I would expect of this review," Woolley said.

Since the council issued its report, Camp has made only one statement through his lawyer Frank Addario, saying that he's grateful to the inquiry for considering his arguments.

Camp, who was elevated to Federal Court in 2015, has not heard a case since he was effectively suspended with pay over a year ago.

Once the council completes its review, it will make a formal recommendation about Camp's future to the federal minister of justice.

In its history the council has only twice recommended the removal of a judge. In both cases the men resigned before Parliament could officially dump them.