TORONTO, Ontario, November 24, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The production of a startling new document has further delayed an already long overdue trial for Linda Gibbons on a charge of disobeying a court order that has kept her imprisoned for almost two years. At issue is a communiqué sent from Gibbons’s former attorney Peter Jervis to the Ontario Crown attorney’s office. It made it clear he was no longer acting on her behalf when meetings were held in 2001 on the progress of a temporary court injunction issued by a civil court in 1994 that prohibited pro-life activity near certain Ontario abortion sites.
Gibbons could not have legally given her assent to the results of those meetings without representation. The document should have been produced for Gibbons’s current defence team as part of mandated procedures for complete Crown disclosures to defence counsels, but apparently was not. That irked defence lawyer Daniel Santoro, who is pursuing an abuse of process motion in the case and told presiding judge Mara Beth Greene at a hearing on November 19 that the situation is “highly problematic, to say the least.”
“I want an explanation for why this letter was not produced to me,” Santoro added. “I have serious questions and serious problems.” As has been the Crown’s practice throughout the lengthy case, Crown attorney Mathew Asma asserted “it’s going to take time to digest the material presented today … today’s allegation will require some investigation ... there is a large volume of material to review … we will ensure prior information is accurate … we’ll now make sure” everything is provided.
Asma also indicated Jervis may be cross-examined on the contents of his communication and asked for “another week or two” of time, during which Gibbons will continue to languish in prison.
“It sounds like it’s now becoming fairly complicated,” Greene said by way of understatement, while again expressing chagrin at how slow the charge has been in coming to trial. She indicated no further adjournments will be granted in the case, noting once more that Gibbons has already spent far more time in prison on the charge than she will be sentenced to anyway and will surely be released no matter the results of the eventual trial. She ordered the Crown to ensure all relevant materials are presented and provided.
Once again, Gibbons was allowed to sit unrestrained beside Santoro in the body of the courtroom during the latest hearing. She smiled to a group of supporters watching from the gallery as she was handcuffed and led back into custody at its conclusion. One supporter who visited her in prison said she remains in good spirits despite the troubling developments.
The current charge dates back to January 20, 2009, when Gibbons was arrested outside the “Scott Clinic” abortion site in downtown Toronto for allegedly violating the temporary court injunction. An earlier conviction for disobeying a court order regarding a matter in October 2008 is being pursued to the Supreme Court of Canada on the basis that - as with all criminal charges laid against Gibbons over 16 years - a civil matter was improperly pursued in a criminal court. Word is being awaited on whether the Supreme Court will hear the appeal.
All parties will return to the Ontario Court of Justice at Yonge and College Streets in downtown Toronto on December 1 at 10 a.m. for what is being called “an update” on the situation related to the current charge.