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

Justice Horner's statement about a single paragraph Consent Order, written by the father: "I'm sure it included a million other clauses..." Fathers are bad, and Justice Horner is really sure about that

How to exploit the inherent bias in Alberta courts, fuel the conflict, and make fathers look really bad

Executive summary

In Alberta courtrooms, the bias against fathers is palpable and overriding the Court's duty to look at evidence, make findings of facts, and apply law to those facts. In this example, Ms. Rensonnet, the mother, gave Mr. Uttl, the father, an envelope at front of the children. Few months later, the father gave the mother an envelope, immediately after the child exchange. The mother objected that the father should not serve her "in front of the children". Therefore, I, the father, on three separate occasions, sent the mother a consent order so we can serve each other by email. The mother never replied, and instead made an impromptu application to Justice Horner that I am not allowed to serve her "at front of the children". I requested that Justice Horner orders that we serve each other by email. Both requests were granted, and when I attempted to bring to Justice Horner's attention that I have tried to resolve this same issue by Consent Order, Justice Horner was sure that my Consent Order "included a million other clauses that were objected to", and refused to hear anything from me, the father, to contradict her misapprehension of the facts.

The Consent order contained a single paragraph:

Both parties are at liberty to serve on each other all documents arising out of this action by delivering true copy of same by email to and respectively, and by sending the documents by regular mail.

It was sent to Ms. Christopher, the case management counsel, twice. Justice Horner should have seen this order at least twice. Here is how she reacted:

35   MR. UTTL:                                  I just want to bring to your attention that I sent
36     that consent order to Ms. Rensonnet a couple of months ago --
38   THE COURT:                                  Okay and I’m sure you did, but I’m sure it
39     included a million other clauses that were objected to. Never mind Mr. Uttl, that doesn’t
40     require a response. Thank you. We’ll see you on June 16th. We’re adjourned.
The order of Justice Horner granting service by email was practically identical. Given the Court's willingness to be "sure" about the father doing bad things (including "a million other clauses" not acceptable to the mother) and the Court's failure and even refusal to look at the evidence, one has no option but to conclude the Court was biased beyond reasonable doubt.

The Details

Part of Ms. Rensonnet's strategy was to fuel the "high conflict", because the court is less likely to order shared parenting. Ms. Rensonnet decided to utilize the fact that I had served her with court documents, that is given her a plain manila envelope. The short story is, Ms. Rensonnet gave me an envelope at the children exchange, I took it and thought nothing of it. So when I needed to give Rensonnet some documents, I did the same. Rensonnet wrote a letter to the case management counsel, Ms. Christopher, that she does not want to be served at front of the children. I sent a single paragraph consent order to serve each other by email both to Ms. Rensonnet and Ms Christopher on March 20, 2015, again to both Ms. Christopher and Ms. Rensonnet on March 30, 2015, and to Ms. Rensonnet again on May 28, 2015, day before the hearing. Rensonnet never executed the consent order, which, before this hearing, she received total of 3 times.

Note that in the transcript, my argument proceeds about half sentence at the time, being constantly interrupted by Justice Horner. Transcript, October 9, 2014, starting at page 22 follows:

18   MS. RENSONNET:                               And one small matter, yesterday again -- when
19     Mr. Uttl picked up the children in the morning, he once again served me documents
20     ostentatiously in front of the children, with a camera suction cup to the car window, the
21     whole bit. Can I please have an order that he can’t serve me with the children present? I
22     know my address for service is my house, but there are so many other ways to serve than
23     in front of the children, please?
25   THE COURT:                                   Can there possibly be a concern with that,
26     Mr. Uttl?
28   MR. UTTL:                                    Yes there is. Ms. Rensonnet --
30   THE COURT:                                   You need to serve Ms. Rensonnet with legal
31     documents in front of your children?
33   MR. UTTL:                                    No (INDISCERNIBLE) --
35   Order (Service in Front of Children)
37   THE COURT:                                 Okay. Then that’s fine. Then there will be an
38     order that you not serve Ms. Rensonnet in front of the children.
40   MR. UTTL:                                    My Lady, I (INDISCERNIBLE) the consent
41     order, this has been done three times.
 2   THE COURT:                                 What has been done three times?
 4   MR. UTTL:                                  I served Ms. -- I have to drive there, to
 5     Ms. Rensonnet’s residence so it’s a convenient time to give her envelope with papers.
 7   THE COURT:                                 Okay, well it isn’t anymore. You’re not
 8     serving Ms. Rensonnet with legal documents or any documents in front of your children.
 9     It’s harmful to your children Mr. Uttl. They do not need any further confirmation that
10     their parents are fighting.
12   MR. UTTL:                                      My Lady, Ms. Rensonnet served -- gave me an
13     envelope, this is a year ago, in front of the children, was a non-issue. She gave me --
15   THE COURT:                                 Mr. Uttl, I don’t -- this isn’t a tit-for-tac court
16     hearing --
18   MR. UTTL:                                  I know --
20   THE COURT:                                 -- you just did it last week, correct?
22   MR. UTTL:                                  No?
24   THE COURT:                                  No, you did not serve Ms. Rensonnet with
25     documents in front of your children this week or last week? Sorry when was it?
27   MS. RENSONNET:                             Yesterday.
29   THE COURT:                                 Yesterday?
31   MR. UTTL:                                  Two weeks ago I --
33   THE COURT:                                Yesterday, yesterday Mr. Uttl, did you serve
34     Ms. Rensonnet with documents in front of your children yesterday?
36   MR. UTTL:                                  I    gave    Ms. Rensonnet   an   envelope    with
37     documents --
39   THE COURT:                                 M-hm --
41   MR. UTTL:                                  -- and asked her to take it and she took the
 1      envelope and that was the end of it.
 3   THE COURT:                                  And did you videotape that or record it in some
 4     way?
 6   MR. UTTL:                                   Both parties are recording every child exchange
 7      --
 9   THE COURT:                                  No, did you -- Mr. Uttl, did you --
11   MR. UTTL:                                   I did.
13   THE COURT:                                 You did, okay. No more. Ms. Rensonnet, I
14     don’t know if you’ve ever served Mr. Uttl, but please do not. So there will be a mutual
15     clause, Mr. Uttl, no service documents on either biological parent of any kind in front of
16     the children for any reason.
18   MR. UTTL:                                   My Lady, Ms. Rensonnet, has a order she can
19     send by email. Can I get the same order, serve Ms. Rensonnet by email --
21   THE COURT:                                  Yes?
23   MR. UTTL:                                  -- she already agreed in some writing of hers
24     that she wants to be served any other way --
26   THE COURT:                                  Sorry, is there any concern with Mr. Uttl
27     serving you by email, Ms. Rensonnet?
29   MS. RENSONNET:                              No I’ve already told him he can.
31   THE COURT:                                  Yes --
33   MS. RENSONNET:                              He just wants an order and I said just go ahead.
35   MR. UTTL:                                   There wasn’t an order --
37   THE COURT:                                  Fine, we’ll put it in the order Mr. Uttl.
39   MR. UTTL:                                   -- that both parties can serve each other by
40     email.
 1   THE COURT:                                   Yes.
 3   MR. UTTL:                                    Ms. Rensonnet never consented.       I sent the
 4     orders three times.
 6   THE COURT:                                     Okay, don’t serve documents and involve your
 7     children in this litigation in any way Mr. Uttl, it’s harmful to them. You’re a very bright
 8     man, I can tell that, you’re very articulate. Do some research online, what this kind of
 9     fight does to children, is now sociologically and psychologically documented. It’s
10     harmful. This isn’t -- I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a social worker, it’s not my place
11     to --I can’t give you all the verbiage, but please do some research on your own. They
12     will have long lasting effects from what is going on here. Exerting your rights is one
13     thing, but dragging your children into it, is quite another.
15   MR. UTTL:                                    I never drag my children into it.
17   THE COURT:                                   Okay. We’ll don’t --
19   MR. UTTL:                                    I’d --
21   THE COURT:                                   -- I’m going to believe you Mr. Uttl, don’t then.
23   MR. UTTL:                                    So can you put a clause in the order that I can
24     serve Ms. Rensonnet by email?
26   THE COURT:                                   Yes, yes.
28   MR. UTTL:                                    Thank you.
30   Order (Email Service)
32   THE COURT:                                   You will both be allowed to serve each other
33     by email from this day forward. Okay.
35   MR. UTTL:                                  I just want to bring to your attention that I sent
36     that consent order to Ms. Rensonnet a couple of months ago --
38   THE COURT:                                  Okay and I’m sure you did, but I’m sure it
39     included a million other clauses that were objected to. Never mind Mr. Uttl, that doesn’t
40     require a response. Thank you. We’ll see you on June 16th. We’re adjourned.


There are two possibilities:

(a) Ms. Christopher, the case management counsel, concealed from Justice Horner my letters and never gave a copy of the consent order to Justice Horner, even though she received it two times. Justice Horner, not having read it, was so prejudiced as to be "sure it included a million other clauses that were objected to".

(b) Ms. Christopher did give the copies of the letters she received to Justice Horner, and Justice Horner did read the single paragraph consent order for mutual service by email the two times I have sent it. Her bias and prejudice did not allow her to agree that I made the effort to settle the service issue amicably, and she made up the nonsense about "million other clauses".

Whatever had taken place between Ms. Christopher and Justice Horner, at this point, I was acutely aware how biased Justice Horner is, but had to grin and bear it to get to the trial, so the children have reasonable access to their father. The option to appeal any of Justice Horner decisions was hollow, as it would have delayed the trial, and extended the status quo which Rensonnet established unilaterally and surreptitiously.

Lesson Learned

There was never any issue of passing the envelope to Rensonnet being harmful to the boys, whether it was the envelope Rensonnet gave to me, or the envelopes I later gave to her. Rensonnet accepted the envelope without any fuss the first time, but after she refused to accept the envelope second time, I parked my car forward enough so the envelope passing happened behind the car, where kids could not even see it.

However, I was too slow realizing what Rensonnet was up to -- sending letters to the case management counsel complaining bitterly about service "at front of the children", yet completely ignoring the three consent orders I prepared and sent her, which would allow us to serve each other by email. I was also too slow in realizing that Justice Horner probably never got the consent order from Ms. Christopher. On the other hand, Justice Horner ended up the hearing rather abruptly, obviously not wanting to know what I was trying to bring to her attention.

When you suspect or know your ex-partner is borderline or a sociopath, expect the unexpected. Record everything, preferably on video. One of the reasons Rensonnet never made any accusations of violence at the exchanges was that she knew the exchanges are recorded, by both parties.

Note: There are some judges who believe recording your interaction with your ex-parther is harmful, increases the conflict, etc. While this belief is incredible, they sometimes make orders that the parties do not record. In that case, your best option is to interact with your ex-partner only in presence of reliable witnesses, e.g., at a police station, and ask the police person to take notes.