Judge hears arguments in Linda Gibbons case, reserves judgment to Sept. 9
TORONTO, August 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A provincial court judge reserved judgment to September 9 after a day-long trial for Linda Gibbons at the College Park courthouse in downtown Toronto on Monday, a hearing that saw noted pro-abortion lawyer Clayton Ruby inject himself into the proceedings.
Gibbons was on trial on a charge of disobeying a court order (an accompanying charge of disobeying a peace officer was withdrawn) in regard to her arrest outside the "Morgentaler Clinic" abortion site in Toronto last June 11. Defence counsel Daniel Santoro offered two lines of argument in pleading not guilty on her behalf.
The first was that Gibbons was not covered under the terms of the injunction, which on consent named five people along with "John and Jane Doe and persons unknown," but not Gibbons. Secondly, Santoro suggested Gibbons's conduct on June 11 did not breach the terms of the injunction, which forbade acts such as causing a nuisance, intimidation and intefering with the functioning of the abortion business.
It was on the first point that Ruby wound up asking to address the court, even though he had no standing and had not previously sought intervenor status. In a move a Crown attorney later remarked to a colleague he had never seen before, Madam Justice Feroza Bhabha allowed Ruby to make submissions.
Prior to that, Crown attorney Daniel Brandeis called to the witness stand Shayna Hodgson, who described herself as the "operations manager" of the Morgentaler site since 1999. She testified she has seen Gibbons at the site before, "blocking the driveway" and bringing along other people in tow.
She said she was first advised of Gibbons's presence on June 11 by Kurtis Urbszat, the regular, full-time security guard on behalf of Intercon Security, which holds the contract to guard the Morgentaler site. Hodgson claimed clients had difficulty getting around the picketing Gibbons and her signage and at one point, she saw an upset client scurry into the building after encountering Gibbons. Under cross-examination by Santoro, however, Hodgson acknowledged Gibbons did nothing to physically block access to the building.
Sheriff Peter Krause testified next, clarifying that Gibbons "interacted with" and "approached" abortion clients, rather than confronted them as he had initially stated.
Finally, Brett Kitchen, another security guard with Intercon, said Gibbons attempted "verbal engagement" with abortion clients, who ignored her and passed her by. He agreed with Santoro's suggestions that Gibbons did not stop anyone from entering the abortion site and spoke to people in a normal tone of voice.
In his final summations, Santoro emphasized Gibbons was not a party to the 1999 injunction regarding the Morgentaler site and did not consent to it. In such a case, the injunction could not apply universally without a hearing, which did not occur, he argued.
It was at that point that Ruby rose and was allowed to address the court. He argued that the injunction did apply to Gibbons and that it was incumbent upon her to seek a variance to the terms by applying to the Superior Court of Justice. He also said the terminology of "Jane Doe and persons unknown" meant the injunction did, in fact, encompass her.
"No injunction could ever be effective if you had to name everyone," he said, adding the language in the text was clear.
Crown attorney Brandeis, for his part, said he was basically riding Ruby's coat tails in positing that the injunction applies to Gibbons and anyone else who "disturbs, harasses, bothers and intimidates" people from seeking the care they want.
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Regarding the argument on conduct, Brandeis said Gibbons's actions cause "a significant nuisance" and "were not appreciated" by abortion clients. In material ways, he added, she was attempting to disturb the functioning of the abortion site.
"She goes there to stop abortions from happening. That's her mission," he said. While acknowledging Gibbons is not an intimidating person, he said that the "constellation" of her actions was intimidating.
Santoro finished his summations by observing that there was no evidence of interruption to the abortion site's functioning -- everyone who sought to enter the site was able to do so. Gibbons’ conduct was simply moral persuasion, he said.
In putting the matter off to September 9 at 10 a.m. in Room 504 of the College Park courthouse, Brandeis agreed to offer Gibbons bail set at $500 with the condition being she stay at least 500 feet away from any abortion site in Ontario. Santoro said Gibbons would not agree to such a condition.
Santoro has two appeals underway on previous convictions of Gibbons by Justices William R. Wolski and Mara Beth Greene. Dates have yet to be set for those hearings in appeals court.
Meanwhile, fellow pro-life demonstrator Mary Wagner is due in court Tuesday morning at 1000 Finch Avenue West for a remand of her case regarding charges of mischief and failing to comply with probation orders. She was arrested on August 15, 2012 at the "Women's Care Clinic" abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto. She has been in custody since that time while refusing to accede to bail conditions that include staying away from abortion sites.
Justice Fergus O'Donnell in June turned down her request for public funding of a challenge to the Criminal Code's denial of human status for the unborn.