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Matter of privilege - the Jag.

It has been widely reported in Esprit de Corps and in the mainstream press that Judge Advocate General Jerry Pitzul once advised the Ombudsman to handle his cases by "investigating the complainant first." The genesis for those reports was the detailed minutes of a meeting which took place between Gen Pitzul and Andre Marin's staff in the fall of 1998. We had originally been denied official access to these notes by the JAG's office who cited their release would violate the strict "client-solicitor privilege." Marin's staff maintained that they had never asked to invoke such an exemption and, furthermore, they rejected the notion that the JAG was ever their legal counsel. Only once the Ombudsman's mandate had been authorized and Marin had control over his own Access to Information requests were the contentious notes released to the public. In September 1999, the JAG's revealing remarks were exposed in the national media without a peep of protest being heard from General Pitzul. In fact, it wasn't until January 2000 that the JAG penned a missive to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen. It read in part: "The quotes attributed to me are both inaccurate and misleading; they are purportedly taken from notes of a meeting between the Ombudsman and myself. They have been taken out of context and do not reflect the full discussion which took place." Upon reading this contradictory claim, Esprit de Corps immediately contacted Pitzul's PR hack to request an interview with the JAG in order for him to provide the Canadian public with "the other side of the story" (i.e., the context Pitzul `purports' is missing).

Not only did Pitzul refuse to provide us with any comment, his office still refuses to release their notes of the disputed meeting as per the Access to Information legislation. (They maintain that a client-solicitor exemption exists!)

Andre Marin has recognized that one of the first barriers he must shatter -- if his office is to effectively combat top level abuses -- is the JAG's alleged abuse of client-solicitor privileges. We wish the Ombudsman all the best in his endeavours and we intend to keep readers posted on the Pitzul vs Marin bout as it develops.

(p.s.: Jerry Pitzul, thanks for the great Christmas card! It showed us that you -- or someone on your staff -- still has a sense of humour.)
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Publication:Esprit de Corps
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:390
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