TORONTO, Ontario, September 7, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Thursday September 2 court hearing on the charges against pro-life prisoner of conscience Linda Gibbons ended with unexpected setbacks for the defence. A September 30 date was set with provincial court justice Mara Beth Greene for her next hearing on the case.
Gibbons defence lawyer, Daniel Santoro was interviewed Friday by LifeSiteNews about the hearing outcome. Santoro stated, “Yesterday was a very strange day in court. We got an answer but we did not get reasons so, I’m in the dark.” He added,”Our constitutionality motion was dismissed. Our disclosure motion was dismissed. We won’t know why until we receive Justice Greene’s reasons.”
Santoro related that he is still bringing an application for abuse of process on the 30th in order to have the charges against Linda thrown out. The abuse that the defence lawyer has been referring to is the exceptionally long delay of 16 years by the Crown in proceeding to trial on the “temporary” injunction under which Linda Gibbons has been arrested. She has been imprisoned for a total of 8 years to date because of her repeated attempts to counsel women against abortion within the restricted zone in front of Toronto’s Scott abortion center.
There have been some statements circulating that a civil, rather than criminal, hearing has finally been scheduled on the injunction following the Sept. 2 hearing, but Santoro refuted the misinformation. He said the September criminal hearing will continue on the 30th with the same judge as last Thursday.
Santoro expects to have Justice Greene’s written reasons for her decisions against the defence’s constitutionality and disclosure motions possibly as early as this week. He is delaying comment on her decisions until that time.
Last Thursday’s 10 a.m. hearing produced a lively, almost constant back and forth exchange between Santoro and Justice Greene. Greene especially questioned and challenged the defence’s emphasis upon the relevance to the case of full disclosure of communications between the Crown and the Attorney General in 2001 when the injunction finally went to trial and was then suddenly withdrawn from trial.
Santoro told LifeSiteNews, “The Crown ended up producing some documents that showed some information but left us largely in the dark. It showed that it (the trial) got off the list because parties were entertaining discussions with one another and that both parties agreed to have it taken off the list.” Santoro believes there is likely more to the story than this and urged Justice Greene to at least order a record of the communications for her review to determine if there were any irregularities.
Justice Greene did openly admit amazement that the injunction is still outstanding. She stated in the court, “I can’t imagine how any matter could take 16 years to come to trial.”
In response to Santoro’s persistence on the disclosure matter Greene stated to him on Thursday, “So, our starting point is more information about what happened in 2001.” She continued, “My guess is that this is a matter of solicitor/client privilege,” indicating that, in her opinion, the correspondence between the Crown and the Attorney General’s office could not be introduced in court.
Santoro responded, “You are required by law to review documents to assess privilege”. Greene retorted, “You just want these memos”. The defence lawyer clarified, “I want you to look at these memos. I want you to assure that the process has been fair.”
The Crown lawyer challenged the defence’s contention about abuse of process and objected to the disclosure request. Three precedent cases were cited as indicating that a judge does not need to or is not obliged to read the documents.
In the end Greene ruled against the disclosure.
The defence is also involved in an appeal on another Gibbons case which it initially won. The case was appealed by the Crown to a higher court level and lost by the defence which is now seeking necessary leave to appeal again to the Supreme Court of Canada. Santoro stated, “We are waiting to hear whether they grant us leave or not. We have a chance.”
Given the history of the repeated appeals of recent Linda Gibbons decisions, the case under consideration last Thursday will likely be appealed again should the final result not be in favour of Linda and the defence’s main objectives.
“Santoro emphasized that what is not at issue in his defence submissions is not the legitimacy of the injunction itself which remains legally valid until challenged in the civil forum.”
Linda is silent because of her solidarity with the unborn.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see the bishops of this country – JUST ONE TIME – lift their voices PUBLICLY in support of such a witness? How probable do you think that would be? Do they even know what’s going on right under their noses? Here’s a trick. Pick a bishop…any bishop in this country…and ask them if they know who Linda Gibbons is. The chances are that the look of cluelessness will be your answer. And on the off-chance that one or two may know, ask them why they have not issued a public statement of support on such an important case to the pro-life movement in Canada?
Then again, perhaps we should not be so harsh. They’re dealing with really important things like the Census, the Environment and thanking the United Church for being a ‘strong witness to Jesus’. Totally understandable, wouldn’t you say? Our priorities are really well-balanced.