Canadian Judge Doesn’t Understand HIV

Apparently Judge Jon-Jo Douglas believes that HIV can live in a “dried state,” reactivate and then infect at will. In an effort to avoid infection, Douglas insisted that an HIV positive witness wear a mask while testifying. He then moved the case to a larger courtroom so that he wouldn’t be so close to said witness. Absolutely insane, right? Activists and legal types think so, too:

In their Jan. 17 letter of complaint, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario) say Douglas’s response to the witness, a complainant in a sexual assault case, reveals “shockingly discriminatory thinking” and is a “particularly extreme example of unacceptable conduct by a judicial officer.”

The organizations say the case also raises questions about the extent to which judges are informed about HIV/AIDS and related human rights issues.

Their complaints target not only Douglas, but two courts – his own and the Superior Court of Justice, for failing to clearly condemn the behaviour.

The Crown applied to the Superior Court of Justice to have Douglas removed from the case for creating an appearance of bias. But Justice Margaret Eberhard declined, saying while his approach may have been wrong, Douglas had jurisdiction to take the steps he felt necessary to ensure courtroom safety.

Ontario’s Criminal Lawyers Association has also lodged a complaint with the judicial council. The lawyers’ group contends Douglas did not bring a judicial temperament to trial proceedings and treated a witness differently on the basis of irrelevant personal characteristics. Contacted yesterday, association president Frank Addario declined to discuss the allegations. The complaints are being investigated by a judicial council subcommittee, which will determine if a public inquiry into Douglas’s fitness to remain on the bench is warranted.

We think it’s safe to say that Douglas ain’t fit for the bench. Not only does he not understand HIV/AIDS, but he looks bat shit crazy.