B.C. judge's partner hit with libel penalty of $250,000
Lawyer asks court to overturn transfer of assets into the name of the Supreme Court judge
July 09, 2006
Vancouver, B.C. (Canada)
A man who lives with a B.C. Supreme Court judge is alleged to have transferred assets into her name while facing defamation proceedings in the U.S.
Justice Mary Marvyn Koenigsberg lives in a west-side Vancouver house with Lubomyr Prytulak, a self-described "educational consultant" whose writings were the subject of a Canadian Human Rights Commission investigation into a hate-speech complaint.
In a writ of summons filed in B.C. Supreme Court but not yet formally served on the couple, attorney Gary Kurtz of Los Angeles alleges Prytulak's conveyance of his interest in the $903,000 home to Koenigsberg in 2004 should be declared void so Prytulak can pay the U.S. defamation judgment, now more than $250,000 US.
A court action on the allegation, in which Koenigsberg is named as a co-defendant, is pending.
Kurtz has filed a certificate of pending litigation against the property, essentially freezing it until the issue is resolved.
In the meantime, Kurtz is expected to be in a Vancouver courtroom Monday to argue that the Los Angeles Superior Court judgment against Prytulak stands in B.C. because of reciprocal enforcement legislation between the province and the State of California.
Kurtz successfully sued Prytulak in 2004 after Prytulak, the writer behind the ukar.org website, sent a series of defamatory letters to California judges, lawyers and legal organizations.
Reached at his Los Angeles office, Kurtz told The Province Koenigsberg's relationship with Prytulak and her position with the court could be of concern to British Columbians.
Kurtz said he anticipated that the people of B.C. could be distressed to see the connection between a B.C. Supreme Court justice and a person who has created, maintained and updated a website that resulted in a hate-speech complaint.
Steven Rambam, a U.S.-based investigator who has unearthed Nazi war criminals, has also squared off against Prytulak in a separate defamation case. Represented by Kurtz, Rambam won the case but the ruling was thrown out on appeal due to jurisdictional concerns. Prytulak began sending his letters defaming Kurtz during the Rambam case.
Rambam says he is "extremely concerned" about what may happen in the court tomorrow, though he has faith in the Canadian judicial system.
Prytulak's website (which is no longer online) was investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2003 on the basis of a Canadian Jewish Congress complaint. Prytulak launched the site in 1994 in response to a CBS 60 Minutes report that outlined anti-Semitism in the Ukraine, his birthplace. A CJC investigation in 2005 requested that Prytulak respond to concerns that the site engaged in Holocaust denial, promoted anti-Semitism and was likely to expose Jews to hate. The CJC and Prytulak settled before the file made it to the tribunal stage. CJC Pacific Region chair Mark Weintraub declined to comment this week on the latest allegations.
In April of this year on an online discussion forum called the "Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust," a segment of an e-mail Prytulak wrote to Paul Fromm was posted explaining the removal of ukar.org from the Internet. Fromm is a far-right politician and former schoolteacher who founded the Canadian Association for Free Expression, an organization active in the defence of Holocaust deniers.
In the e-mail, Prytulak insisted the website removal was the result of a "non-aggression pact" reached between himself and the Jewish Congress.
"I decided that 10 years on the front lines, without pay, had brought me to the limit of my contribution to writing on Ukrainian issues," he wrote. "As the objected-to materials constitute only a small proportion of UKAR . . . I am free to leave most of it up, but decided to remove the entire site so as to leave me unencumbered and undistracted to pursue other interests, mainly education and scientific method."
Prytulak answered the door of his home yesterday, but declined to comment.
"I won't be answering any questions," he said.
Rambam said he would like to purchase Prytulak's website and use it to post information about Ukrainian war criminals.
Prytulak's brief biography states he received a BA in experimental psychology from the University of Toronto in 1966, a PhD from Stanford in 1969 and worked as an assistant and associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Western Ontario from 1969 until his retirement in 1980.
Koenigsberg was called to the bar in Ontario in 1976 and in B.C. in 1981. She represented the attorney-general of Canada in the high-profile native-rights Delgamuukw case in 1991 before she was appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court in 1992. In recent years, Koenigsberg dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against broadcaster Rafe Mair but her ruling was overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal. Koenigsberg came under fire in 2001 over her decision to release an alleged terrorist on bail.
Speaking in 2005 about Koenigsberg's ruling that the legal-services tax was unconstitutional as it pertained to low-income people, Attorney-General Wally Oppal, a B.C. Court of Appeal justice at the time, said he had the "highest respect" for the judge, referring to her as a "stellar jurist, well-experienced in the law."
Oppal declined comment yesterday, saying it would be inappropriate as the case is now before the courts.
Prytulak at centre of 2004 hate complaint
Published: Sunday, July 09, 2006
The Canadian Human Rights Commission investigated a complaint last year that writings about Jews on Lubomyr Prytulak's Ukrainian Archive website were "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt based on religion and national or ethnic origin."
The commission launched its investigation in 2004 following a complaint lodged by the Canadian Jewish Congress.
Among the materials referenced in the eight-page final report, which was sent to Prytulak's Vancouver home Jan. 30, 2005, the commission highlighted a 1998 piece in which Prytulak, commenting on a book by Richard Glazar about the Treblinka death camp, questioned the existence of "Ivan the Terrible."
John Demjanjuk was accused of being "Ivan the Terrible" and sentenced to death in Israel in 1988, but was acquitted in 1993. Ivan the Terrible reputedly operated the camp's gas chambers and was responsible for the deaths of as many as 900,000 Jews.
"The conclusion invited by a reading of Richard Glazar's account of Treblinka . . . is that Richard Glazar never mentioned any Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka simply because there had never been any Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka," Prytulak wrote.
In another entry, Prytulak wrote: "My experience pushes me toward the conclusion that the real and tragic history of the Jewish Holocaust has been hijacked by the Holocaust fabulists who have perverted it beyond recognition."
Prytulak also railed against accounts of the involvement of Ukrainians in the attempted extermination of European Jews.
"[W]hy should it be the case that the leading slanderers of Ukrainians are Jewish?" he wrote. "How can it be that Jewish leaders are so prone to lying and have such palpable intellectual shortcomings, and sometimes even remarkable character defects?"
The website ukar.org also featured links to anti-Semitic and revisionist websites such as the Institute for Historical Review, Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust and Campaign for Radical Truth in History.
Published: Sunday, July 09, 2006
- U.S.-based Nazi war-crimes investigator Steven Rambam files a defamation suit in 2002 against Lubomyr Prytulak, claiming damages arising from defamatory information posted on Prytulak's ukar.org website.
- Rambam is represented in the California case by Los Angeles attorney Gary Kurtz.
- In 2003, the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles, rules in Rambam's favour, ordering Prytulak to pay $50,000 US in damages.
- Prytulak appeals on jurisdictional grounds. The appeal succeeds in 2004 and the ruling is thrown out. But as the Rambam case proceeds, Prytulak sends a series of letters and e-mails to other California lawyers, legal associations and L.A. Superior Court Judge James Dunn defaming Kurtz, the bar association and supervisory judges. The communications include claims that Kurtz lied in court on two occasions, engaged in conduct worthy of a criminal contempt conviction, engineered the judicial assignment system with Dunn, that his legal work was reckless, desperate and impotent and that the lawyer had a "feeble respect for evidence and for truth."
- Kurtz sues for defamation on March 26, 2003.
- The court issues a summons and complaint for damages and injunctive relief on Nov. 19, 2003. The first amended summons, first amended complaint and statement of damages are served on Prytulak on Dec. 5, 2003. Prytulak later applies to the court to quash the summons, again on the basis of jurisdiction. His application is denied on Feb. 3, 2004, and he is given 30 days to file a defence. Prytulak fails to enter a defence.
- The B.C. Land Title Office receives an application on April 26, 2004, that shifts ownership of a house jointly owned by Prytulak and B.C. Supreme Court Judge Mary Marvyn Koenigsberg solely into the name of Koenigsberg, Prytulak's partner. Koenigsberg is listed as the sole owner of the $903,000 home as of May 5, 2004.
- The judgment in Kurtz's favour is finalized Nov. 2, 2004. Prytulak is told to pay the lawyer $225,000 US, plus $467.55 US in costs. Interest on the unpaid judgment is calculated at 61.77 per day, for a total of $247,210.67 US by October 2005.