TORONTO, February 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Linda Gibbons has spent long years over the past decade and a half in dank prison cells that, as she said recently, sometimes dip below 10C in temperature. But a development out of Ottawa has given her hope that some measure of justice might finally be served.
The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that it will hear an appeal filed by her lawyer seeking to overturn an Ontario Court of Appeal decision reinstating her criminal conviction on a charge of disobeying a court order.
The charge had originally been quashed by a lower court judge on the grounds that the matter was improperly heard in a criminal, rather than civil, court. The 1994 injunction relating to the charge had been decreed in a civil court, yet the Ontario Attorney-General’s office has, from the beginning, consistently charged her criminally.
Gibbons’s lawyer Daniel Santoro has held that that is an improper way of dealing with the matter and has sought to have the Supreme Court decide the issue once and for all.
With the news that the highest court will indeed hear the case, Santoro and co-counsel Nicholas Rouleau will now be preparing the voluminous briefs needed to argue their side of the case. They will also be getting set to make their debut journey to the nation’s capital for a Supreme Court hearing, likely to take place this fall. Two Crown lawyers will, in turn, represent the opposing position of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney-General.
Each side will have an hour to present its case, with 10 minutes allotted to intervenors, should any come forward.
Most of the work will have been done beforehand, in the written briefs that could reach up to 40 pages in length. If Gibbons wins the case, she will be acquitted of the charge and there will be important implications for any future prosecution should she breach the terms of the injunction. Most especially, she will no longer be liable to be tried in a criminal court.
In a related pending matter, there will be three days of hearings March 7, 8 and 9 at the College Park courthouse, Yonge and College Streets in downtown Toronto, regarding an abuse of process motion put forth by Santoro regarding a different charge of disobeying a court order laid against Gibbons. He is arguing that hearings in 2001 regarding the injunction improperly went forward without Gibbons’s consent, as she was legally unrepresented at the time.
Worsening matters has been the fact that the Crown attorney’s office somehow lost a letter advising that Gibbons’s counsel was no longer representing her. Such conduct by the Crown, Santoro has argued, is abusive and a dereliction of duty.