The Canadian Judicial Council has partly cleared a Manitoba judge caught up in an embarrassing dispute involving sexually explicit pictures of her on the Internet.
On Wednesday, it threw out a complaint that Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas improperly presided over a divorce case, calling the allegation groundless.
However, the council ruled that a separate complaint related to the photographs of Judge Douglas posted online will move to the next stage of the disciplinary process - a full review by a five-judge disciplinary panel.
Judge Douglas's husband, Winnipeg lawyer Jack King, posted the pictures seven years ago. Mr. King maintains that his wife had no idea what he was doing - either his posting the pictures or sending a former client, Alexander Chapman, suggestive e-mails about her.
The CJC said that the five-judge panel "will review the matter and decide if the file should be closed or whether other measures should be taken. This could include: referring the matter to a lawyer for further inquiries; pursuing remedial measures; expressing concern to the judge; referring the case to a public inquiry committee."
The Law Society of Manitoba made inquiries concerning the photos in 2003. Mr. King took a medical leave and returned to his law practice the next year.
Last August, Mr. Chapman went public with allegations that Mr. King had showed him sexually explicit photos of Judge Douglas and tried to persuade him to sleep with her.
Mr. Chapman, a 44-year-old computer programmer, has since been fired from his job at Great-West Life Assurance Co. and has been required to turn his computer and computer files over to the court.
Judge Douglas temporarily stepped down from the Queen's Bench and is working in the court in an administrative capacity.
In the complaint that was thrown out, an unidentified person alleged that Judge Douglas had a personal relationship with the complainant's ex-husband, and that she should therefore not have heard their divorce case.
The CJC said that an initial review of the complaint by a single member of the council "found that there was no evidence to support the allegations, which were based on speculation, hearsay and assumptions."
Disciplinary actions range from ordering a judge to undergo counselling or recommending his or her removal from the bench.
Editor's note: An earlier online version of this story said that Jack King was on medical leave when he posted photographs of Judge Lori Douglas online. This version has been corrected.