When is a procedure judicial and when is it administrative? It's a bit of a legal fine point, but it came up the other day when Judge Krahn handed down her decision in my criminal case.
You could say it was a huge victory for me; I was acquitted of the criminal charges against me (the mischief charge, that is: the forcible entry charge was withdrawn by the crown on the very last day of the trial.) She found me guilty of trespassing, but let me off with a mere reprimand. So I "won".
But it didn't feel like a victory when I read her decision. She bitch-slapped me up and down for anything and everything I ever did at the university, and said they were fully justified in both of the trespass orders they imposed on me - the one-year order imposed in 2012, and the lifetime ban imposed in 2013. I'll have more to say about that later, but today's topic deals with a legal fine point.
The Judge wasn't impressed by my argument that they never told me the grounds for the trespassing order, so I didn't have the opportunity to dispute them. In my argument, I cited Stinchcombe, the leading Canadian authority which deals with the right of an accused person to know the case against him. The judge said that I wasn't entitled to Stinchcombe rights because the process was "more administrative than judicial."
It's an interesting observation because in a separate case, I am suing the University for defamation in regards to the exact same trespassing order. Defamation doesn't have to be words: it can be an action or gesture which gives a defamatory message. A well-known example was the lady who sued a shopping centre for defamation when she was marched under restraint by security through the store in view of the general public. The courts found that the spectacle carried defamatory meaning. I argued the same about the trespassing order. The university moved two strike out my claim on the basis that the disciplinary actions against me were part of a "quasi-judicial process", and therefore they had absolute immunity against any defamatory claims.
And the judge agreed with them. That's the law...if someone slanders you as part of a judicial proceedings, you can't sue them for slander. It's called absolute privilege. Notice that it goes much farther than "qualified privilege", which you can overcome if you show malice. Absolute privilege protects them no matter what. And the University's internal star chambers are generally accorded the status of "quasi-judicial proceedings."
Here's what I don't get. It was the same trespassing order both times. Master Berthaudin (in the civil case) found the University was protected by absolute privilege because it was part of a "quasi-judicial process". And Judge Krahn (in the4 civil case) found the University wasn't responsible for giving me my Stinchcombe (disclosure) rights because it was "more administrative than judicial."
I'm appealing both decisions. We'll see if the University can have it both ways.