In the 19th Century, English Philosopher Jeremy Bentham warned against secrecy in the administration of justice: “Where there is no publicity there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial.” Those words still ring true today. In countries sharing the common law tradition, the open courts principle is a fundamental, indeed a constitutional principle.

Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C.
Chief Justice of Canada

Did Ms. Christopher, the Case Management Counsel, improperly provide legal advice?

Executive Summary

Ms. Christopher was assigned to be the Case Management Counsel.

I and Ms. Rensonnet have attended "case management meeting" with Ms. Christopher on January 27, 2015. At the meeting, Ms. Christopher told me bluntly that I should just accept the interim order, because the trial judge will be unwilling to disturb the status quo Ms. Rensonnet created. This amounts to improper legal advice to the parties, obviously favoring Ms. Rensonnet and her desired outcome.

I tried to get the transcript of this meeting. Ms. Christopher wrote I can order the transcript. Transcript Management Services did not produce it and referred me back to Ms. Christopher.

I have requested the transcript before Justice Horner, and Ms. Christopher who was also present, mis-represented to Justice Horner that I want the transcript for improper purpose, and either Ms. Christopher or Justice Horner blocked production of any transcripts thereafter.

After writing to Members of Legislative Assembly, Minister of Justice, Honourable Kathleen Ganley intervened, and I got all transcripts of Court hearings, but not the transcript from January 27, 2015.

Ms. Christopher has changed her mind several times whether I have paid the $600 trial fee. Key parts of the court file went missing.

Trial fee paid/not paid issue threatened to delay the trial

Trial fee was paid on December 12, 2014

Justice Horner ordered on December 9, 2014 that I pay the trial fee, even though I was the defendant. I paid the fee and filed the pleadings on December 12, 2014.

Trial fee was not paid yet?

On January 6, 2015, Ms. Christopher sent a letter regarding the $600 trial filing fee. With the letter was order of Justice Horner, prepared by Ms. Christopher. Rensonnne't lawyer, Ms. Davies, wrote letter on January 12, 2015, requesting that form of Order be circulated prior to its being signed by Madam Justice Horner and filed. This had never happened, and Ms. Christopher prepared and had Justice Horner sign Orders which were not pronounced. Ms. Christopher claimed that it is her responsibility to listen to the recording and prepare the orders (quote last letter). Unfortunately, Ms. Christopher's ability to write orders which reflect what Justice Horner pronounced is decisively lacking.

On January 15, 2015, I replied to Ms. Christopher regarding the $600 filing fee. I paid it on Decmeber 12, 2014, as ordered (wrongly, according to the rules, it is paid by plaintiff) by Justice Horner on the December 9, 2014 hearing. I encountered difficulty as the fee is to be paid on filing of the order, which was filed by Ms. Davies, but then mysteriously disappeared. I also filed the pleadings, which have also mysteriously disappeared.

On January 20, 2015, Ms. Christopher requested a reply to her January 6, 2015, letter.

I wrote to Ms. Christopher on January 26, 2015, attached the letter I sent on January 15, 2015, and informed Ms. Christopher that I attended at the courthouse, and confirmed that the pleadings are on file, and that the clerk confirmed that the cash register imprint is on one of the pleadings, which are now located on the 10th floor.

Ms. Christopher confirmed trial fee was paid, she had seen the cash register imprint

I have attended the case management meeting on January 27, 2015. Present were Ms. Rensonnet, Ms. Christopher, and myself. Ms. Christopher stated that the $600 fee was paid, and that she personally seen the imprint of the cash register on one of the filed documents.

Ms. Christopher was told by Clerk they have no record of payment, Ms. Christopher claimed her eyes deceived her

Ms. Christopher wrote on February 3, 2015, that she had attended at the clerk's office, and that they do not have any record of payment of the $600 filing fee, and that she mis-read another document and believed that the filing fee was paid.

Half the court file went missing

Finding this kind of disorder in the courthouse unbelievable, and having noted that the courthouse communicates with Ms. Davies using post-it sticky notes, I started suspecting foul play with the intent to delay the trial somewhere. I attended at the courthouse on February 9, 2015, and requested to see the file, with the intent to locate the pleadings I filed on December 12, 2014 containing the cash register imprint. I discovered that all documents filed after August 6, 2014 were missing. The Clerk promised to make a request to search the basement of the courthouse and advise me. They never did. The Clerk also refused another $600 payment, as there order to trial of Justice Horner pronounced on October 9, 2014 was also missing.

I wrote back to Ms. Christopher on February 10, 2015, requesting advice how to deal with the missing files, and the missing order I have last seen in Ms. Christopher's hands.

Ms. Christopher told me to just accept the status quo

On February 12, 2015, I wrote to Ms. Christopher regarding points discussed at the case management meeting on January 27, 2015, which were not adressed in her letter of February 3, 2016. I have adressed a clear bias on part of Ms. Christopher: (1) The trial date has been ordered by Justice Horner. Yet, Ms. Christopher asked Ms. Rensonnet at length, if the trial date was acceptable to Ms. Rensonnet. (2) More significantly, Ms. Christopher told me bluntly that I should just accept the interim order, because the trial judge will be unwilling to disturb the status quo Ms. Rensonnet created. This amounts to improper legal advice to the parties, obviously favoring Ms. Rensonnet and her desired outcome.

At the Trial, Justice Poelman increased my parenting time to about 46% from the pre-trial 20+%. Ms. Christopher was wrong.

Ms. Christopher replied on February 20, 2015, and stated:

Mr. Uttl, I did not give any legal advice at any time to either party. I was mistaken in my earlier information to both parties that transcripts of case management meetings were not available. I now understnad that trancripts can be ordered. If you do so, you must pay for the cost, and also order a copy for me as well as for Ms. Rensonnet at your own cost.

This is truly astonishing statement - I am not surprised Ms. Christopher denied that she gave any legal advice, but I am astonished that she would ask that I order a copy for her and Ms. Rensonnet at my cost.

Naturally, on February 24, 2015, I went and ordered the trancript of the January 27, 2015 case management meeting. I did not get it, so asked again on March 6, 2015. Instead of the transcript, I got the following email from Transcript Management Services:

Hi, Justice Horner is looking into this please contact Ms. Christopher - case management counsel for more information as she knows all about it. Transcript Management Services

So on March 9, 2015, I wrote again to Ms. Christopher, requesting an explanation.

On March 12, 2015, Ms. Christopher replied:

Mr. Uttl queried information from Transcript Management regarding his request for a transcript of the January 27, 2015 case management meeting. Please note that Justice K.M. Horner wishes to give further direction regarding Mr. Uttl's request at the case management hearing.

Sadly, Justice Horner never did.

At a hearing on October 26, 2016, I reminded Justice Horner that I want the transcript of the January 27, 2015 meeting (transcript, page 18):

35   MR. UTTL:                                 Okay. And I do have one more matter. In
36     March 12th, 2015 I have asked to get a transcript from a case management meeting with
37     Ms. Christopher.
39   THE COURT:                                  Sorry? You what? What happened on March
40     12th, 2015?


17   MR. UTTL:                                  And the transcript management services says
18     that I can’t get it, so I wrote to Ms. Christopher and she indicated in a letter, which I
19     received -- sorry, on March 12th, that you will -- you will give her direction in all the
20     case management meetings. So the question is, can I get the transcript or not?
22   THE COURT:                                  Of what? Of March 12th, 2015?
24   MR. UTTL:                                 Of the hearing -- not the hearing, of the case
25     management meeting of January 27, 2015.
Ms. Christopher did not want the transcript to be produced. The notice to the profession came to effect well after I have requested and been denied the transcript the first time.
21   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                             Madam Justice, thank you so much. It is
22     actually prohibited for transcripts of case management meetings to be produced. I was
23     just looking at the new June 27th notice to the profession, but I can’t locate it, it might be
24     in the rules. I do not recall at all any discussion relative to costs. In any event, at the
25     time the gentleman first made his request for a copy of the transcript, costs were not even
26     on the table because the family law matter had not been heard.
28   THE COURT:                                    Right.
30   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                              There had been no determination.
32   THE COURT:                                    And no appeal.
34   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                              And --
36   THE COURT:                                    Yeah.
38   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                          -- it would be my respectful submission that the
39     transcript would only be used for the purpose not necessarily that transcripts are often
40     intended for.
 1   THE COURT:                                  Right.
 3   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                            Thank you, Madam Justice.
Ms. Christopher resorted to mis-representing the facts. Contrary to my letter dated February 12, 2015, which she definitely received (as she had replied to it on February 20, 2015), where I wrote on page 3:

You counselled me that I should just accept the interim order as a final order, because the trial judge may be unwilling to disturb the status quo Ms. Rensonnet created for the children by abusing the Ex Parte process. I believe this amounts to legal advice which will make Ms. Rensonnet even less willing to discuss the parenting outside the court.

Ms. Christopher boldly told Justice Horner the following:
16   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                         Madam Justice, just to (INDISCERNIBLE)
17     further. I believe that -- as I am recalling this long ago, I believe that Mr. Uttl’s
18     complaint put in writing was that I had some bias towards Ms. Resonnet because she
19     called me Cathy.
21   THE COURT:                                    Okay.
23   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                              That -- and that would come up --
25   THE COURT:                                    So this --
27   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                              -- in the transcript.
29   THE COURT:                                    -- this meeting is with myself or with yourself?
31   MS. CHRISTOPHER:                              Just with myself.
It is true that Ms. Rensonnet did refer to Ms. Christopher as "Cathy", as she immediately recognized Ms. Christopher became her negative advocate. However, the reason I requested the transcript is described in my letter. Justice Horner denied the transcript, which will now (a) clearly demonstrate the improper legal advice given, (b) impeach Ms. Christopher's statements before Justice Horner. It would not be surprising at this point if the recording becomes "lost".

Side Effects of my Request for the Transcript of January 27, 2015

After each court hearing, I routinely ordered the transcripts, as I find I am not able to take notes during the hearings. Suddenly, I was not able to get a transcript of this hearing which happened on October 26, 2016, nor of any subsequent hearings before Justice Horner. I have exchanged several letters with Ms. Christopher sent a letter dated December 19, 2016, stating that the transcript for one of the actions will be made available, because the decision of Justice Horner has been appealed, but that:

As a case management counsel, it is my role to listen to the recording of the application and ensure that the Order has been accurately prepared.

Ms. Christopher obviously refuses to acknowledge the existence of the open court principle in canadian justice system, and wrongly believes that I have to justify any need for transcripts:

Thus, there is no reason for you to require the transcript from the November 24, 2016 application in this action.

There was nothing further I could write to Ms. Christopher, and Justice Horner was clear that anything I write to her will be shredded and not read. I wrote an email to all Members of Legislative Assembly, and Minister of Justice, Honourable Kathleen Ganley, intervened. Finally, I got all transcripts of Court hearings, but not the transcript from January 27, 2015. Ms. Ganley sent me an email on February 24, 2017, correctly outlining the transcript production procedure. After the fiasco dealing with Ms. Christopher, it is encouraging that the person in charge of Justice is knowledgeable and astute.

After I received the above email, and after I received the transcripts, I got yet another letter from Ms. Christopher, letter, dated March 6, 2017, even more bizzare than the previous ones. Ms. Christopher writes, that on direction of Justice Horner, she is sending me a copy of decision, 2016 ABCA 419. The decision is from Alberta Court of Appeal, about production of a transcript from hearing before Court of Appeal. Court of Appeal is not a court of record. Court of Queen's Bench is, and transcripts must be provided.

One would ordinarily think that it is inconceivable that Justice Horner would not know the difference between the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of Appeal.

It is unfortunate that self-represented litigants are treated with this kind of contempt from various officers and justices of the Court.