Today in kw, I was suppose to testify in regards to community service that someone did with the spot collective. Its a long story about how they got into court so I wont bore you with all the details other then the probation officer did not agree that the KWCCSJ was a legitimate place for them to do community service hours. In the past I myself have given many people community service hours for work around harm reduction, peer counselling that deals with poor on poor violence, alcoholism, etc.
In the past, the courts, John Howards society and other agencies have validated the social work we do while condemning the political by doing such things as making exceptions on bail orders to allow The Spot to function or give us the power to grant people community service hours etc. as long as it was for our social programs and not protests etc.
This case arose from a failure of communication between us, agencies etc.and we felt that we could sort this out in court. Since I worked with this youth in terms of publishing his prison experience in a local magazine, peer counselling where his negative experience with Alcohol and other such things could be used positively by teaching others to learn from his mistakes and other such things, it was agreed that I would testify. This trial took two days and this morning, after I talked to his lawyer I was prepared to take the stand. Lo and behold, before the proceedings started, the lawyer handed me a binder from the crown which was part of my disclosure for the charges I am facing around the blog. I was then told that I would not take the stand but rather someone else who worked at the KWCCSJ would. I felt that this was a bad idea for two reasons, 1.that this persons experience working with this particular youth was minimal, 2. That this person was not there when we tried to contact the social agencies and could not document that and 3. My charges that I am facing are irrelevant to the work that I am doing working with street youth around issues of harm reduction, preventing poor on poor violence etc.
The other main reason was that I felt that this was an attack on ground that we have fought and won through struggle which has shown the necessity for the social work that we do which stems from our political convictions that the people themselves must come up with solutions to the problems that we face. The crown, I knew did not get this information to sit on it and not putting me on the stand would allow them to make any allegations they want about me in court, slandering my name not giving me a right to respond.
Now the issue is not whether or not my name is slandered, im pretty use to it by now, but rather the fact that when my name is slandered in court it has nothing to do with my spelling or the fact that I am a slob or any of that but rather it is an attack on my politics and by default an attack on the politics of the organizations that I am a part of. I felt that these attacks need to be fought head on, not only because of the impact that this would have on the case of the accused, but also on the impact that this would have on other people in the future who have done hours there or want to do hours there. Regardless of what one thinks of what I believe, we should not hide our politics but rather meet political attacks head on and not give any ground to those who want to slander us on the work we do based on what our politics we have.
As this other person testified, giving their experiance with the accused, it became obvious that the crown was preparing to launch an attack and lo and behold, the crown began an attack on the basis of what my involvement was with the KWCCSJ, what my relationship with the youth was etc. At this point in time I asked the lawyer if he could still bring me up and excused myself hoping that I could testify. After it became obvious that was not the case, cursing the lawyer in the hallway (later I apologized), I re entered the court and listened to the sentencing, the judge stuck to the fact that he disobeyed his probation officer,giving a verdict of guilty. In the sentence it became obvious that he was not ruling on the validity of us doing hours, but took into account the fact that he did do something, as well as positive changes in their lives, giving him a $400 fine instead of jail. I was happy at the verdict but still felt that a ruling of not guilty could have been reached had I explained the reason for the failure of communication between us and John Howards etc. and felt that my present charges and political slander should have been met head on not to show any fear to the state that we are ashamed or must apologize for the fact we are political. This judge has dealt with me in the past and has ruled fairly around political issues so I felt that this would not have had an impact on my friend’s case but rather could have totally got him off. Still there was something that was bothering me. I apologized to the lawyer for cursing him in the hallway and we chit chated for a bit. Only later did it hit me what was wrong.
It was the fact that the OPP sent documents relating to my charges to the crown. These documents looked exactly like m,y disclosure and where part of my disclosure. Based on this and the fact that it was directly out of my disclosure and not the notes of the police officers in question but rather guilty plea synopsis etc. that I assume that it is my disclosure. I confirmed later from the lawyer that indeed the KW crown received these documents from the anti racketeering branch of the OPP. Is this even legal? My understanding is that the so-called conspirators, myself included did not have access to the disclosure (and later those that did had to sign a document that they would not share it) specifically so that we dont share it. What gives them the right to share it? With who else have they shared it with and to aim or purpose? I am not convicted yet and I assume that the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty still applies in this country (maybe last night when i was sleeping Harper snuck in his omnibus bill that this no longer applies). Why are these court documents being circulated by the OPP? If the OPP feels that I am not in a place to give community service hours, then the burden of proof is on them and they should have sent someone in a position of authority to testify to this effect, not mail documents which will be used against me in court which I can’t respond to yet because my case is not yet in front of a judge during trial. By doing this, they are putting me in a position where I cant testify, giving them cart blanche to say whatever they want and not have me respond. legally all the court needed to know was that I am up on charges, which I have done nothing to hide, nor have i denied this. I have not yet agreed to any of the facts and leaking these documents to the KW Crown is not just an attack on my person but an invasion of privacy and screwing with my right to a fair trial. Where is the accountability? Where is the justice? where is the fairness?
What would happened to me if I decided to mail my court documents to other people such as the globe and mail because I feel it is important for them to know whats going on. This whole affair, like my charges and the g20 in general reeks of injustice and unfairness. No im not surprised at this at all, what I am surprised at was that the kw crown had no problem openly displaying this violation of trust showing that the new order of things is the state can do whatever they want and get away with it