JUSTICE REPORTER — From Monday’s Globe and Mail Last updated on Monday, Jul. 06, 2009 03:53AM EDT
An Ontario Superior Court judge has ordered a crusading fathers’-rights activist to pay $20,000 to the federal government as punishment for mounting an ill-founded challenge to federal child-support payment guidelines.
Mr. Justice Alan C.R. Whitten ruled that Lucien Khodeir’s negligence lawsuit amounted to a delaying tactic designed to forestall him having to pay support orders of $1,230 – including arrears – for Mr. Khodeir’s 12- and 14-year-old children.
Several weeks ago, Judge Whitten dismissed the lawsuit after a brief hearing.
"Access to justice does not mean an absence of consequences or responsibilities," he said in the costs ruling. "It is trite to say that no one wishes to discourage meritorious claims, but it would be naive to think that all claims are per se meritorious."
Judge Whitten said that Mr. Khodeir is not a hero, but a public nuisance. He likened Mr. Khodeir to a citizen who phones the fire department to report an emergency: "Having so accessed this service, we should be prepared to face the consequences – costs or otherwise – if we phone in a false alarm or something we can readily extinguish ourselves."
However, Mr. Khodeir said in an interview that the cost ruling is another example of judges shutting the courtroom doors to self-represented litigants who display the audacity to attack a sacred legal shibboleth such as the child-support guidelines.
Mr. Khodeir said that he is in debt "up to my eyeballs," but he will not be deterred from his campaign to overturn guidelines that he regards as unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory toward men.
"I’m not going to give up until I’m either dead or something else stops me from proceeding," Mr. Khodeir said. "They are trying to say that I’m just bitching about my child support, but that is not what I’m doing at all."
Mr. Khodeir – a self-employed Hamilton tax auditor – accused Judge Whitten of making up his mind before ever hearing any arguments in the case.
"Every time I opened my mouth, he would shut me up," Mr. Khodeir said. He added that, out of a total of approximately 50 court appearances he has made, only on one occasion was he treated fairly by a judge.
"I don’t expect to win every argument, but I’m fairly intelligent and educated, so I should be able to win one or two arguments along the way," he said. "Generally, judges don’t like to hear from self-represented litigants because they consider them a waste of time."
In addition to his failed lawsuit, Mr. Khodeir has been pursuing a separate case in family court that also alleges that the child-support guidelines are an unconstitutional add-on to the Divorce Act.
He claimed that the guidelines were improperly drafted by a group of bureaucrats and family-law experts, and that they fail to take into consideration an individual’s ability to pay.
The presiding judge in the family-court motion has reserved his ruling.
In his ruling on the costs award, Judge Whitten conceded that Mr. Khodeir is an intelligent man who is adept at citing past judgments and precedents.
However, Judge Whitten said that he was not impressed by the purported novelty of Mr. Khodeir’s submissions, nor by his elaborate attempt to present himself as being "the model of reasonableness."