I had a long night on Monday working early into Tuesday morning finishing off my story analysing Toronto city councillor’s expense reports. It was nearly daybreak when I got into bed- exhausted, I slept like a log. I was awakened by someone telling me the police were at the front door- quickly throwing on my clothes I went downstairs to see what was happening. The was a miscommunication, Victim Services told me they would send a notice before I was called to testify but it appears it was never sent.
After taking a few minutes to straighten myself up I went outside to meet the officer again. He was gracious enough to offer me a ride to the court in his police cruiser only with one catch, there was no room in the front passenger seat so I had to sit in the back. It wasn’t a comfortable ride, the police car’s steel barrier reminded my why I always hated New York taxi cabs- both can be highly unpleasant experiences if you’re tall, my knees banged into the steel every time we hit a pothole.
I read through the messages on my phone as we made our way to the court; emails, Facebook, Twitter and comments submitted to this site. One of the comments got my heart beating more quickly; it appeared to have come from someone at the courthouse, and was a direct reference to a video where I was previously assaulted by Black Bloc anarchist thugs. It felt like a classic scene in a mob movie where the defendant’s allies try to shake-up the witness – but, as I’d learn a couple hours later, real-life can sometimes be more surreal than Hollywood.
When one writes critically of people whose job and/or hobby is marching in crowds broadcasting their anger, it’s pretty much a given some of them will start broadcasting anger towards the writer. People who get recruited into the anarchist obedience cults are often angry or hurt before they arrived- having often been the target of this anger, I was a little bit shaken up, but did my best to try and not let it affect me.
If you were following this site in 2012 you may already be familiar with the “Black Bloc chant” that was quoted in the message. I caught it in a video during a Toronto march “in solidarity” with the Quebec student
strike riots, when a masked thugs attacked me on Bloor street. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it- notice how Toronto police intervene and let my assailants walk away- this happened just a couple of days before my June 2012 assault.
It was a relief finally getting out of the police car when we arrived at the courthouse. My chauffeur in blue took me through the back door and we made our way to the Crown Attorney’s office- we were joined by the cop who was handling my case. I showed him the message while in the conference room and he wrote it down into his little black notebook- I didn’t figure much would come out of it, but it’s always a good idea to get this sort of incident on the record.
The court wasn’t set to resume for another hour so I left the building and wandered through the Eaton Centre. A phone call came in just as I got inside, the officer managing my case asked if I could come back five minutes early because “something has come up”. He wouldn’t tell me what it was over the phone, so I had to wait wondering. When we met, 5 minutes before the hearing was set to resume, he once again refused to tell me what was going on. He led me up to the courtroom, but I was asked to sit outside with him until the Crown had a discussion with the judge. A few of my assailant’s anarchist friends walked by, most trying to unnerve me with evil stares.
The Crown came out of a few minutes later to share the news of what happened in the courtroom, explaining “the defence attorney just admitted that he sent the message you received”. My jaw dropped down to the ground, first in astonishment, then the fear crept-in. Many of the defendant’s friends in the courtroom advocate violence, watching the defence behave like that could only embolden them.
I walked into the courtroom – more intimidating stares from the defendant’s friends – and was guided to sit in the witness box. It was repeated to me how the defence admitted to sending the message, the defence stood up and explained that his message was “only a joke”.
If you’ve ever read one of those lists about how to identify an abusive relationship, you’re probably aware about how loaded the phrase “only a joke” is. This tactic is one of the danger signs of abuse- psychologists call it minimisation, a manipulative technique abusers often use to deflect their bad behaviour.
The judge allowed me to leave the courtroom after the exchange. I checked my website when I got home (the email and IP address aren’t visible on WordPress’ Android app) and I was curious to see if the defence used the court’s network when he sent the message. He didn’t, it was posted through a Bell connected mobile phone, but there was one more shock for me- the email address. It appears the defence forged his message to make it appear it came from a crown attorney.
I’d find it hard to believe that anyone who graduated law school could think it was a joke to misrepresent themselves as another member of the court. It’s equally difficult to imagine the Law Society’s rigorous standards would allow someone who didn’t understand how inappropriate it is to send ominous harassment to a witness he was about to examine on the stand. Perhaps the defence is telling the truth , maybe he’s that utterly stupid – if so, it’s time to start an investigation into how the Law Society is allowing such idiots to pass through.
People I’ve spoken about this with have shared theories about why a defence attorney would be compelled to behave this way. The one most common speculation is that the longer a case is delayed, the more likely the court will decide it was “too long ago”- minimizing penalties against the accused. Regardless of the defence’s intention, it’s a more potential scenario now.
There’s a lot of information I’d like to share about the case but I’m prohibited until my testimony is finished. I’ve learned a lot about the weaknesses of our legal system, its ineptitude working with victims, and how Toronto Police’s processing of assault evidence is anything but CSI.
Until then, I have another three months left to sit in the waiting room of Ontario justice. Expect reports on what it’s like to file a complaint about a lawyer at the Law Society in the near future.