Last Friday was the one-thousand and eighteenth day since Gregory Alan Elliott was arrested and charged for alleged criminal harassment of three politically connected social justice activists. The arrest caused Elliott to lose his job after over a decade of employment as a graphic artist with the City of Mississauga. Elliott’s bail terms have restricted him from using the internet ever since.
In our last story about Elliott’s prolonged trial we covered an unscheduled hearing on August 5th. Crown prosecutor Marni Goldenberg had made a serious mistake handling the case. Elliott’s charge was that he “knowingly” harassing his alleged victims, but Goldenberg changed her story during closing remarks stating that he “either knowingly or recklessly” harassed them. The judge responded saying “there can be no conviction for something for which Elliott is not charged.”
With Elliott’s defence away on holiday, dialing in on a speakerphone and unable to see the judge’s facial expressions, the August hearing was a complete waste of time. With everyone was in the courtroom last week one would expect there would be some progress on resolving the problem. But after three hours debate, with the Crown relentlessly defending her mistake, the trial abruptly ended after she fell into tears.
The Crown defended her mistake, labelling her omission of the word “recklessly” as human error, and took the position the court should accept it was originally intended. She used instances of case law to back her argument; one where police mislabelled “marijuana resin” as “marijuana”, and another where a defendant’s charges were changed mid-trial from “assault” to “assault with a deadly weapon”.
The Crown’s argument wasn’t very convincing, watching the judge’s facial expressions, it seemed he was also unimpressed. Interrupting at one point, the judge called her out on the marijuana citation- explaining how the example of forms of marijuana is radically different than differences in an accused mens rea (their mental state: knowingly vs recklessly).
A short recess was called to allow the defence to speak with his client to discuss how they should proceed. It didn’t take long after court was back in session for it to become clear there wouldn’t be any progress. The judge confirmed this declaring his concern there was a logjam.
Elliott’s defence argued that it was an injustice to subject his client to the extra costs related to defending against the Crown’s mistake. He explained to the court that Elliott has already paid him $50,000, is in debt for another $30,000. and that “it’s unlikely he’ll ever be able to repay”. At one point the defence indicated it might be an Abuse of Process to put Elliott into this position.
Ignoring claims of injustice, the Crown argued against the defence’s request. At one point the judge kindly ask her if she was sure about her decision, but she stood unwavering.
Then suddenly, after almost three hours into the day’s hearing, the Crown started crying. She grabbed a tissue from across the table, dabbed her eyes and apologized to the judge saying she was upset over a personal issue. The judge shut-down the hearing to reconvene on October 6th- the date originally scheduled for the final ruling on Elliott’s innocence or guilt.
Detective Banglid testified in court that Eliott’s tweets were never threatening. One of his alleged victims bragged in court about her vigilante Twitter attacks against people she deems to be “misogynists”. Evidence was introduced into the court that two of the alleged victims spread misinformation that Elliott was a “pedophile”. A large number of Elliott’s tweets used in evidence against him were purely political- what many observers see as protected speech. Elliott’s most offensive tweet was to accuse his alleged victims of having “fat asses”.
It would be easy to say that justice was delayed last Friday, but that would mean we’d have to assume that justice is still achievable. Even if Elliott is found guilty on all counts, the punishment he’s already faced in no way fits the crime he’s been accused of. Elliott has lost his long term job, life savings, right to communicate online- and has endured cruel, inaccurate, and humiliating media coverage (much from the alleged victim’s friends and associates).
If you’re one of the people out there wondering how and why this case was allowed to get so far down the rabbit hole you’re not alone. I’ve been digging into the details and will continue to between now and the next hearing in October. Upcoming stories will explore more about the alleged victim’s relationships with city councillors, and their already established working relationships with the police.
Click here for a a larger version of the interactive relationship map below: