Simpson J

2.22: Self-represented litigants
2.23: Assistance before the Court
9.4: Signing judgments and orders
14.5: Appeals only with permission

Case Summary

The Court had previously determined that the Respondent, McKechnie’s, Court activities may require management by a Court access restriction Order. This Decision related to whether or not such an Order was appropriate, and what its parameters should be. Simpson J. first noted that McKechnie had previously commenced abusive, improper and hopeless claims; engaged in “busybody” litigation on behalf of other parties; sought “impossible or excessive remedies”; and threatened to kill or harm a number of individuals within Court proceedings. He had been instructed to submit written submissions regarding whether or not he should be subject to Court restrictions, and if so, what those restrictions could be. However, “McKechnie did not make written submissions… Instead… he left a voice mail message with the Court indicating he would kill [Simpson J]”.

Next, Simpson J. noted that since his prior hearing, McKechnie had improperly attempted to file an additional “Originating Application – Notice of Appeal/Reference Under an Enactment” naming Simpson J. personally as the Respondent. Simpson J. also noted that McKechnie was currently incarcerated and facing numerous charges, was diagnosed with a number of psychiatric disorders, and had made “explicit threats” to other justice system participants in addition to Simpson J. while in Court.

His Lordship then explained that the Court’s authority to impose access restrictions stems from its inherent jurisdiction to control its own processes. Restrictions may be appropriate in a number of circumstances, including where a litigant has indicated “indicia” of abusive conduct, including collateral attacks, hopeless proceedings, escalating proceedings; where a litigant has persistently engaged in inappropriate behaviour in Court; and where the litigant has previously used the “Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument” strategies (such as “sovereign citizen” or “freeman-on-the-land” rhetoric). Courts may refer to a litigant’s activities inside and outside of the courtroom, and review his or her “entire public dispute history” including Actions brought in other jurisdictions or in non-judicial proceedings. Court intervention is generally favoured where multiple indicia are present, but the presence of any indicia presents a basis for the Court to evaluate whether intervention is warranted to prevent future abusive litigation.

In most cases, Courts merely impose restrictions that require an abusive litigant to seek leave before initiating a new action or application, or before continuing an ongoing action. However, Courts will sometimes go further, by requiring that the abusive litigant be represented by a lawyer in order to submit a leave application or pay Security for Costs prior to initiating a new action.

Given the degree of McKechnie’s abusive conduct, Simpson J. held that he should be required to retain a lawyer to initiate or continue any Action in Alberta. His Lordship noted that such Orders are only appropriate where they are proportionate to the abusive litigant’s “plausible future misconduct”. Simpson J. also ordered that McKechnie was prohibited from being “inside or within 300 meters of any Courthouse in Alberta” unless authorized to do so by Court Order. Here, McKechnie had a history of using the Courts to initiate hopeless proceedings in order to intimidate others or cause harm to them. He also subscribed to the “freeman-on-the-land” ideology, and had a history of making serious threats against police officers, Judges, and others.

His Lordship also ordered that McKechnie could only commence proceedings with leave from the Court, and could only commence an appeal by obtaining permission pursuant to Rule 14.5(1)(j). Simpson J. also ordered that McKechnie be prohibited from acting as an agent or next friend of another individual pursuant to Rules 2.22 and 2.23, or from acting as “any other form of representative in Court proceedings”, along with a number of other restrictions on McKechnie’s litigation activities. Lastly, His Lordship held that McKechnie would not be required to approve the form and content of the Order pursuant to Rule 9.4(2)(c).

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