'Knees together' former judge Robin Camp to ask for return to law practice

'Knees together' former judge Robin Camp to ask for return to law practice

CALGARY — A former judge who asked why a rape complainant didn't resist by keeping her knees together says he would like to rejoin the legal profession, telling a Law Society of Alberta reinstatement hearing that he still has a great deal to contribute.

"I have five or 10 good years in me," Robin Camp, 65, told the three-member panel on Tuesday.

Camp said he has no interest in criminal law, but hopes to go into corporate, commercial, construction, oil and gas or environmental practice.

"I hope to build a practice in Alberta. Canada is my home," said Camp, who came to Canada from South Africa nearly two decades ago.

However, he said he is also exploring the possibility of setting up shop in the Persian Gulf region. He said he does not believe he would need to be a law society member to do so, but that it would help.

Camp stepped down from Federal Court in March following a Canadian Judicial Council recommendation that he be removed from the bench.

Court transcripts from the 2014 sexual assault trial show that Camp — a provincial court judge in Calgary at the time — called the complainant "the accused" numerous times and asked her why she didn't resist by keeping her knees together.

Camp found the accused, Alexander Wagar, not guilty, but the Appeal Court ordered a new trial in which he was again acquitted.

He said being publicly shamed for his remarks has not been a pleasant experience.

"I was a caricature. Many people in Canada reviled me."

But he said the training and counselling he received from a superior court judge, a psychologist and an expert in sexual assault law have shaped him into a better, more sensitive person.

"I learned I'm not as clever as I thought I was," he said. "I learned I am not as kind a person as I always imagined I was."

After he stepped down from the bench, Camp spent some time consulting for The Rebel, a far-right website.

"I don't speak for Camp," Rebel founder Ezra Levant said in an emailed statement Tuesday. 

"He did some work for me back when he was a lawyer. Over several weeks, we explored whether there could be a role for him at The Rebel. During that time, he helped with some administrative work but did no legal work. We both agreed the was no role for him at The Rebel and ultimately, he was never employed by us."

The panel heard testimony from a former colleague on the Federal Court, three lawyers and a legal assistant, who described Camp as gentlemanly, respectful, tolerant and eager to learn.

The Law Society said it was taking a neutral stance on Camp's reinstatement and asked no questions during the hearing.

Panellists had a few questions regarding Camp's background and future plans, but did not grill him on any contentious matters.

Justice Richard Bell, a friend and former colleague, said the headlines calling Camp the "knees-together judge" don't reflect the man he knows.

"He's just a very, very good person."

When law society members become judges, they automatically leave the organization.

Executive director Don Thompson said he's expecting written submissions to be filed within the next month or so and for a decision to be rendered at least a month or two after that.

 

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had Brian Bell