Monday, February 1st begins with a judicial pre-trial. His Honour, Justice B------ has some preliminary remarks before the negotiations can begin. Counsel are not permitted to relate any of the facts, whether or not they are in issue. They are to present their positions proactively. They are not to say what cannot be done or what their clients will not accept, because this would be unproductive. I feel like an anthropologist: does His Honour always kick off JPTs this way, or is it because I'm here? Have I changed the gorillas' habitat?
Well-intentioned though it might be, His Honour's request that counsel not refer to the facts goes out the window pretty early in the discussion. It's hard to present your case as strong and your opponent's case as weak if all you can say is "my case is strong and my opponent's case is weak". The facts are referred to obliquely and a picture of the case begins to materialize.
It's another dispute between house-mates in a rooming house. Toronto rooming houses are hard places. Is it the same pair from last week, fighting about the TV remote? No -- in this case somebody got stabbed in the chest.
It seems the accused might have a legitimate claim of self-defence. The complainant was a "problem tenant". He is alleged to have threatened the accused, then made good on the threats by kicking down the accused's bedroom door, weapon in hand. Defence counsel refers to the weapon as a "morning star". The investigating officer, seeing my eyes widen and my head jerk up at the back of the room, clarifies that it wasn't a medieval spiked club but a heavy, knotted rope.
There's a surveillance video that will reveal the complainant kicking down the door. Unfortunately, it takes a year for police to search a surveillance computer for footage, even when they know the relevant time frame. If it's a homicide, the tape gets priority and jumps the queue -- so if the victim had succumbed to his wounds, the accused might have been able to get out quicker.
The crown makes an offer. Defence counsel rejects it in light of the prospect of a viable defence. This violates His Honour's rules of JPT decorum. He tells defence counsel, "That's not helpful." But what is the man supposed to do, string them along? The pretrial ends without a resolution.
It's followed by two more pretrials: a stabbing at a bar at Keele and Wilson (enough said), and an armed robbery. In the latter, the female accused (currently pregnant! classy) allegedly lured people to the public washroom at the Nathan Phillips Square skating rink -- right next door to the courthouse! -- where she and her friends swarmed and robbed them.
... I guess I'm done skating at Nathan Phillips Square this year.
- Is that a French collar, Your Honour? Are you aware that the French collar has been shorthand for 'douchebag' since 1987?
- What's a peace bond? The crown is opposed to it.
- "Provocation is not the same as self-defence, Your Honour." Good point. Counsel isn't going to let his defence slip away because His Honour mischaracterizes it.
- Dear God, MF DOOM shouldn't try to sing.
- Wikipedia says that a morning star is also known as a "holy water sprinkler". Thanks, Wikipedia, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!
Some handwritten notes to myself
- "When was the last time I did a good job of anything?"
- [Regarding a fourth pretrial not worth relating:] "This lawyer is making some bizarre requests. The officer wants to tell him to go fuck himself. ... The lawyer thinks that because the officer's notes refer to another matter, [the officer] might have been confused. ... This is a Hail Mary defence. ... This guy sucks. ... The Crown is really sweaty. ... K----- J. wouldn't stand for this bullshit."