Just days after Linda Gibbons won an appeal and was acquitted of disobeying a court order over a previous demonstration at the “Morgentaler Clinic” in Toronto, she was arrested at the same abortion facility this morning.
It took police personnel in four cruisers, as well as three Garda World security cars and two sheriff’s officers, to take the diminutive grandmother into custody at around 11:30 a.m., some two-and-a-half hours after she first appeared at the site, pacing back and forth with pamphlets in hand. She was bearing her usual placard depicting a crying infant with the words, “Why, mom? When I have so much love to give.”
The law-enforcement officials were virtually nose-to-nose with Gibbons for a period of time, as a Morgentaler employee in jeans and white top looked on, and it appeared the text of a civil court injunction regarding the abortion site was read to her. Gibbons stood her ground, making some verbal points quietly, before her sign was seized and she was placed into the back seat of one of the cruisers.
A passer-by stopped to berate the police for arresting Gibbons and was told to stand back. He then got into a mild argument with the Morgentaler employee.
There was no immediate word on charges, or how prosecutors believe they will overcome her recent acquittal.
In his ruling, Judge Gary Trotter of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected the finding of lower court Judge William R. Wolski last March 14, that Gibbons engaged in “intimidating” conduct, which formed the basis for the conviction, when she was arrested outside the Morgentaler site on October 30, 2012.
“I respectfully set aside the conviction as unreasonable and not supported by the evidence and substitute an acquittal,” he wrote.
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In so doing, Trotter also rejected the arguments of Crown attorney Stefania Fericean, who suggested during the appeal hearing that Gibbons’s crying-infant sign was “disturbing, offensive, disruptive, disgusting, threatening and intimidating.”
Trotter had observed that Gibbons, like anyone, was entitled to attempt to persuade people within the confines of the law.
Gibbons’s lawyers Daniel Santoro and Nicolas Rouleau had also argued that the Morgentaler injunction did not apply to Gibbons as she was not named in it. However, Trotter did not address that issue, as the intimidation question was enough to win her acquittal.
The Morgentaler abortion site had sought intervenor status in the appeal hearing through Clayton Ruby’s legal firm of Ruby, Shiller, Chan and Hassan, but that was denied by the Superior Court of Justice on April 15.
Two other appeals are in progress regarding other previous convictions registered against Gibbons by Justices Mara Beth Greene and Feroza Bhabha. The latter judge allowed Clayton Ruby to address her trial when he showed up in court unannounced.
An appeal has also been filed regarding Mary Wagner’s recent, long-running trial that resulted in her conviction on charges of mischief and breach of probation. The appeal challenges numerous aspects of the conviction.
Gibbons had been busy prior to her arrest this morning – assisting at her friend’s home and cottage; visiting her daughter’s residence in Lindsay, Ontario; fundraising for Wagner’s defence fund; and running as a candidate for the Christian Heritage Party in the federal by-election for the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina on June 30, finishing ahead of an independent candidate.