TORONTO, Ontario, January 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an important decision, a provincial court judge has ruled that there is enough merit in a complaint by Linda Gibbons’s defence lawyer of abuse of process in the prosecution against her to warrant three days of hearings into the matter this coming March 7, 8 and 9.
In a downtown Toronto courtroom Wednesday morning, Madam Justice Mara Beth Greene rejected a move by Crown attorney Mathew Asma to dismiss the abuse of process motion as unfounded. A central point of contention was the Crown’s failure to produce a vital letter by Gibbons’s former counsel, Peter Jervis, advising that he was not representing her in 2001 when discussions were held on the status of the temporary court injunction barring pro-life activity around certain Toronto abortion sites. Without representation, Gibbons - who remains silent in court proceedings out of solidarity with the unborn - could not have legally given her assent to the eventual adjournment in the talks.
Asma had previously reported to the court that his office was unable to find the letter in its files. Nonetheless, he went on to claim that such issues were irrelevant and simply part of a “collateral attack” against the court injunction itself. Defence lawyer Daniel Santoro countered that the missing letter, and the Crown’s decision to enforce a temporary injunction 16 years after it was enacted, were abusive and a dereliction of duty.
Greene’s decision means that the rare spectacle of Crown attorneys and other related personnel taking the witness stand to be cross-examined on their roles in the prosecution of Gibbons will take place during the three days in March at the College Park courthouse, Yonge and College Streets in downtown Toronto. That should come as some satisfaction to pro-life activists in southern Ontario, who have long witnessed questionable conduct on the part of Crown prosecutors in their handling of abortion-related cases for over a decade and a half.
Among the things they have seen Crown prosecutors do is consistently lay charges in such a way as to deny Gibbons a jury trial, press for prison sentences at the high end of the spectrum, never call abortion personnel as witnesses so as not to inconvenience them and always lay criminal charges, even though the injunction was decreed in a civil court and should have been pursued there.
The latter issue is now before the Supreme Court for possible consideration, with a decision on whether it will be heard expected by March. Gibbons will mark her second anniversary in prison by then - she has been held continuously behind bars since January 20, 2009 as the judicial processes on a charge of disobeying a court order have played out.
At Wednesday morning’s hearing, supporters came from as far as London, Ont. and Long Island, N.Y. despite a snowstorm that hit southern Ontario. Among them were U.S. lawyer John Broderick, who has represented many pro-life activists south of the border over the years and appeared on Gibbons’s behalf in Canadian courtrooms on several occasions.