Thursday, September 26, 2013

Criminal Trial: The Testimony Concludes

My trial for Criminal Trespassing, which began on September 3rd, completed its second day of testimony yesterday after an adjournment of three weeks. All witnesses have now been heard from: the Crown's witnesses and my witnesses...all except one that is, which is me myself. And I will testify when we return on the 4th of December. Then we will have closing arguments from both sides.  Meanwhile, the action on the Civil front has been on a temporary hold while a Master was assigned to take charge of the growing volume of case files associated with the three actions which I am now working simultaneoulsy. We'll be going into the Master's chambers tomorrow to set down some timelines for filing of briefs and affidavits. But more on that later.

It was an exhausting day in court yesterday. We didn't get out til after six in the evening. I examined six witnesses, none of whom were friendly to me and a couple of whom were downright seething with hostility right from the get-go. How did it turn out? I believe it was disastrous for the University. I'll be filling in the details over the next few days, but for now all I'm going to say is this: the biggest mistake they made since kicking me out of school two years ago was when they thought they could throw me in jail for trespassing. They thought they could push me around and get away with it, but they forgot two things. First, they're so used to having their way in their own internal star chambers, where they set the rules and interpret them as they see fit, that they forgot what it's like in a real court when the other side gets to do things like cross-examine witnesses and subpoena documents. It was best expressed by Professor Bush towards the end of a round of questions in which I had been holding him accountable for his previous sworn testimony, when he sniffed indignantly: "what are you going to do now, try and catch me in a contradiction with all those documents you have at your fingerips?" To which the answer is: yes, Professor Bush, that's what I'm going to try and do. That's what happens when you go into a real court.

I said there were two things they forgot to take into account...that's one. It's the second one that's the real killer, and this is it: they forgot that the lies they needed to tell in order to beat me on the criminal case were different than the lies they needed to tell to beat me on the civil case.  They never took that into account when they went into this thing, and now it's coming back to bite them in the ass.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Affective Domain

Two weeks ago, I started telling a story about how I got into an argument with Professor Bell in class. In general, I don't tell these stories. There is an important reason why I am holding back here. You see, the University's allegations against me are extremely vague and non-specific. In the nearly two years since those accusations began to surface, I done everything I can to try to bring those charges into the open, so I can defend myself. Well then, why don't I just come out and defend myself by telling my side of the story? Very simply, because if I do, they will simply shift their own stories to work around the evidence that I have revealed. That is how people like that operate.

In fact, the very reason that the tide has finally begun to turn in my favor is that I have been steadfast in standing my ground when it comes to knowing the specific charges against me. This strategy is paying off in ways that will become apparent in the weeks and months to come. The problem for my enemies is not that they are more than willing to lie in order to do me in: the problem is that since they don't know what I know, they risk telling a lie on which I will be able to catch them with their pants down.

So in telling today's story, I can only go so far. I can't tell you the details of the actual in-class confrontation. That's something my enemies are going to have to do first. I can only tell you the circumstances leading up to it. And that's where we left off when the story got interrupted by events in court.

The course was Philosphy of Education, and we were actually "covering" material that I was intensely interested in. I already told you about two occasions where I kept my mouth shut instead of jumping into the fray, and I told you why. These were the Four Learning Styles, and Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. We had moved past those topics, and now we were onto Bloom's Levels of the Affective Domain; and this would be the day when I broke my silence.

The reason I'm telling this story is because one of my newer correspondents, He Who Carries Fire (HWCF) alluded to it in his justification of why I deserved to be kicked out of school, which you can read in the comment field here. I've become aware that the identify of my correspondents has become a topic of some speculation among those of my classmates who follow the blog. I was only with them for nine weeks, so in many cases I've forgotten their names, even when they made a real impression on me. But I'm going to guess that HWCF is Steve Whitmore. Now, Steve was maybe my first impulse, but I rejected the thought for some logical reasons; most importantly, because although there were moments when I felt a deep hostility coming from him, there was an incident late in the term when he spoke out in Professor Bell's class about me in a very supportive way. It was immediately after one of Bell's habitual put-downs which followed my voicing an opinion, and Michelle Rosner had just spoken out by saying she appreciated my comments. Steve chimed in to echo Michelle's sentiments. I understood them to be giving a subtle rebuke to Professor Bell for the way he had been disrespecting me since the start of the year. So I had been counting Steve as one of my supporters.

But on further reflection, I recall that Steve's seatmate was Jennifer Babcock, a statuesque, clear-eyed PhysEd major whose loathing for me gave enormous credibility to the movement to kick me out: in fact, it was her complaint to the Dean that started the wheels in motion. I think Steve's outlook was strongly influenced by Jennifer, and if there was a moment where he had started coming around to my side, it's not hard for me to believe that Jennifer would have swayed him back the other way in the subsequent weeks and months.

But none of that is really the reason why I identify Steve with HWCF: in the end, it's just a gut feeling based on the florid, emotionally charged writing style that somehow says to me: It's Steve! Steve! Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I've become a bit of a gambler in my old age, and that's where I feel like putting my money.

But let's get back to Bloom's Levels of the Affective Domain. What exactly is the Affective Domain? Well, if the cognitive domain is about reasoning, maybe the affective domain is about feeling. This was something I wanted to know about. Ever since I was in school, I was recognized as a "borderline genius". As a kid, I "knew" I was smarter than all the other kids...everyone told me so. But eventually I started to figure out that I wasn't really smarter than everyone else...I just happened to be smarter in the things that got measured on IQ tests. When it came to real-life tasks like getting a good deal on a used car, or fixing a leaky faucet, or even going to a bar and talking a girl into going home with was obvious to me that the world was full of people WAY smarter than me.

There's another reason why I had given this whole question a lot of attention over the years. Everyone knows that the Jews are the "Chosen People". But just what does that mean? It's a question we ourselves don't deal with very well. On a superficial level, a lot of Jews say...look at Albert means we're smarter than everyone else. And maybe...just maybe we are a tiny bit smarter on average. I once did the calculation of what would happen if you shifted our IQ bell curve two percentage points to the right. It turns out that's enough to justify the fact that we've won 25% of the Nobel Prizes in Physics with less than 1% of the world's population. (Because the effect of the shift is amplified at the far end of the spectrum.) The point is that if you have any sense of introspection on this, the whole question of what it means to be "smart" is something that you have to come up against sooner or later just on account of being Jewish.

So when Professor Bell talked about the different styles of learning, and the different levels of cognitive function, even though I was interested and had things I wanted to say, there was no real urgency to engage him in a discussion. Because what was he going to tell me that I didn't already know? But now he was talking about the affective domain...and this was something I had only started getting interested in over the past ten years, when I had started developing my own insights. It was something I was very interested in learning about...

Or was it? As I listened attentively to Professor Bell droning on, it became clear to me that I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought the affective domain must have been about feelings and emotions, but all I could hear from the Professor was bla bla bla bla...

So I raised my hand to ask a question. I'm not going to tell you the words I said, because like I explained at the start, this is where it's up to my accusers to put their version on the record first. All I'm telling you is how we got to that point. From a strategic point of view, it's actually just a little damaging to my case to even reveal as much as I have here, but hey...what the heck. It's fun to talk about these things.

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A couple of short post scripts to the above: first, I just remembered that Professor Bell had actually given me a grade of zero out of five for my application of Bloom's Levels to my Unit Plan, the major term assignment worth 20% of the course grade. I wonder what I would have had to do in order to get a grade of say, 2.5 or even 3? (I think I'm safe in saying that most students were given 5/5 for this category of the marking rubric.)

Secondly...I think it's REALLY important to learn how to recognize and manage your emotional feelings and senses...certainly a lot more important than learning how to factor polynomials. I don't know what Professor Bell thought he was teaching us that day, but it sure wasn't what it could have been. And by the way, I think my little digression in the middle of this post where I try to guess the identify of HWCF could be considered a small example of how the brain functions in the affective domain. It's very different from the way my brain works when I'm solving a physics problem, but it's pretty important in real life.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Where's the Brief?

Today I'm going to tell you how our last appearance before Master Cooper ended. If you refer back to the Venn Diagram I posted on Thursday, you'll see there were a number of overlapping matters between myself, the Schoolteachers (represented by Mssrs. Mackwood and Bock of Aikins MacCaulay) and the Professors (represented by Mr. Meronek and Ms. Mulholland of Darcy and Deacon). We had just finished dealing with all the overlapping matters, so Mr. Mackwood was leaving. In fact, those matters were all adjourned until our next appearance, which has since been scheduled for the Friday the 27th, when one of the four Queen's Bench Masters will be assigned complete jurisdiction over all matters invovling Marty Green. For now, it was me, Master Cooper and Lindsay, and there was one remaining item on the agenda: the deadline for her Brief on the Motion for Summary Judgement in Green v George and Heather Bush.

That's the defamation lawsuit I initiated after the Bush's accused me of trying to force my way into their home last winter. Opposing Counsel had moved for Summary Judgement, and provided supporting affidavits from the Bushes, where they "more or less" denied having made any such accusations. When we appeared before Master Sharpe, she asked me if I wanted to cross-examine on affidavits. No, I didn't. I didn't think I needed to. I'm not going to tell you just why, here and now, because I don't want to tip my hand. The point is, I thought I could beat the Motion for Summary without cross-examination.

Then Master Sharpe did something which still has people shaking their heads. She gave opposing counsel three weeks to file their Motions Brief, and told me I would have to file my Affidavits afterwards. "But your Honor", I sputtered, "I thought the Affidavits all came before the Briefs". But Master Sharpe was not put off. "It's a matter of my discretion", she said. (I think she's probably right.) And since Lindsay, on behalf of the Bushes, didn't seem to object, that's how it was set down.

(I have to say that just three weeks ago, we were before Master Sharpe on another matter, and she told me she wanted me to submit my motions brief by such-and-such a date....which was also before the other party had filed their affidavit. I said, "Your Honor, I feel I would be prejudiced if I were required to state my arguments before they had filed their evidence"; and she said, "very well, let them file their affidavits first". So I think Lindsay could have asserted her rights back in May, and gotten them. But she didn't, despite my more-or-less raising a red flag on her behalf.)

I walked out of that appearance back in May thinking I had gained an unexpected strategic advantage. I waited for their brief, and when it arrived, just before our next wasn't their brief at all. It was new affidavits, by Metz and Grainger, the people I had claimed were the recipients of the defamatory information from the Bushes. Metz and Grainger swore (more or less) that neither George nor Heather had told them anything that evening about any kind of home invasion.

This was a problem for me. In the absence of evidence, I am entitled to the presumption that everything in my Statement of Claim is a provable fact. But once evidence to the contrary is entered, the onus shifts to me to prove that I have an arguable case. That's how Summary Judgement works. Did these new affidavits give the Bushes the evidence they needed to have my case dismissed on Summary? More to the point...would I need to cross-examine on those affidavits? Because if I wanted to cross-examine, I would have to file my affidavits first...thereby losing the strategic advantage of making them commit their arguments before seeing my evidence. In front of Master Sharpe, having just received these new affidavits, I simply didn't know. I told her I needed time to figure out my next step. And so the matter was adjourned sine die...without a date.

Well, it took me a few days to figure out where I stood. I still thought I could beat the Motion for Summary without cross-examining Metz and Grainger. So I wrote opposing counsel and told them I wouldn't be cross-examining, so could they please let me know when they planned to file their Motions Brief?

And that's where we were last Tuesday: it was four months later, and they still hadn't filed their brief. And now there was a new complication: I was in criminal court, defending myself against the Trespassing Charges that had their basis in the barring order issued as a result of the so-called "home invasion". I told Master Cooper that by hearing my testimony in the criminal case, opposing counsel would effectively be learning the gist of my evidence which I would later be filing by Affidavit. Master Sharpe had specifically given me this peculiar strategic advantage, and I was about to lose it. Opposing Counsel was going to profit from their own negligence in failing to file their brief in a reasonable time.

Master Cooper looked at Lindsay: "Do you agree that this was the intent of Master Sharpe's instructions?" Yes she did. "But your Honor, the Affidavits are supposed to come before the Briefs". I reminded Master Cooper (she really didn't need me to remind her, but I did) that one Master does not ordinarily second-guess the instructions of another. "Master Sharpe was there to hear both parties, and she may have had her reasons, although I cannot pretend to know what they were". Master Cooper agreed.

But she didn't quite see how it was a problem for me if they filed after hearing the Criminal Case evidence. How did that prejudice me? "Your honor, it's a strategic advantage that I was given, and I've been trying to maintain it, going so far to waive my rights to cross-examination in order to do so".

"But what are you afraid they'll learn?", the Master wanted to know.

I told her that I wanted them to commit to their defense before hearing my evidence. "There are two ways they can defend themselves against this claim", I told her. They can say, "We never said nothing 'bout no home invasion". That's one way. The other way is, they can say, "Yes, we accused him of home invasion. Because it's true...he did try to force his way into our home". Those are the two defences available to the Bushes. "And if you read their Statement of Defence," I continued, "and all their Affidavits...its still not crystal clear which one of those defences they intend to stand on. I want them to commit one way or the other before they hear the evidence in the Criminal Trial on the 25th."

"Your Honor, it's just not going to happen," Lindsay began. "We are already swamped with other deadlines involving matters with Mr. Green..."

"Oh no you don't," I interjected. "I wrote you just the other day telling you I was waiving all my rights on other matters so you could make this your first priority. I am not going to note you in default in Green v Anchan...I've told you already you can start counting your twenty days after the 25th. And the same goes for all the other matters between us..."

Master Cooper had heard enough. She still didn't quite get my point about losing the strategic advantage, but she was simply not impressed by Lindsay's excuses for her tardiness. "You've had this for four months. I see no reason why you shouldn't file your Motions Brief within ten days. You'll have it in by the 23rd of September."

And that was that. I didn't count it in the "win" column in yesterdays tally, but it sure felt like I'd won something.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Score: Green 7 - U of W 2

I've been trying for the last three days to finish telling the story about my appearance on Tuesday before Master Cooper, but along the way I've gotten sidetracked with my Venn Diagram. It seems there were so many proceedings going on at the same time, withs briefs flying here and affidavits flying there, that no one could quite get it straight which was which. That's when I said maybe we needed a Venn Diagram. Which I posted yesterday.

After looking it over, I realized I had left out a few proceedings (six actually). So I redid my diagram, and now it looks like this:

It all started with my original lawsuit, Green v Tram et al, where I sued for getting kicked out of the practicum. You can see three arrows pointing outwards...let's follow them first. (There should be more arrows but I didn't have room.) The first one goes down and left to my "Motion to Strike". That was actually something they tried to slip past me early in the amendment to their Statement of Defence which they put in without my consent. I took it before the Master, who slapped them down by ordering $500 costs in my favor. (The amendment stood, but that didn't hurt me.) That was my first "win". Meanwhile, I also made my first motion with respect to my discovery motion for exclusion of co-defendants from each others' examination. It's grouped inside the purple with three other motions relating to my discovery rights. This one is outside the green circle because the Schoolteachers chose not to oppose it.

Then there's the long curved arrow point to the Professor's Motion for Summary. I won that motion in June when Master Berthaudin ruled in my favor. They're appealing that motion to the Queen's Bench, where it will be heard before a judge. (That's why it's to the left of the black line.)

If we look in the yellow circle, you'll see three actions relating to Green v Bush. That was the action for defamation I commenced in response to things Professor Bush said about me in class in front of the other students. The University was a bit slow in responding to my Statement of Claim, and I took advantage of their tardiness by filing a Notice of Default. I admit that was a bit of a dirty move, but they still had to pay me a $300 settlement for consent to lift the Notice. And anyhow, I thought they needed a bit of a wake-up call. In the end it didn't help me much...they subsequently filed a Motion to Strike (that means they didn't even file a Statement of Defense.) Initially that didn't scare me, but on researching the law of slander (as opposed to libel, or written defamation) I became aware of some weaknesses in my case. So to cut my losses, I discontinued my action, and paid them a settlement of $1000 for their troubles. That was their first and only entry in the "win" column.

The next action I launched was another claim for defamation, Green v George and Heather Bush. That's the one for them accusing me of trying to break into their home, which came from them slamming the door on me when I tried to serve them with the previous lawsuit. They filed a defense (this one was on time!) and then filed a Motion for Summary Judgement. That one's working its way through the system, with briefs and affidavits and the whole nine yards. Ironically, if Professor Bush had just come to the door and accepted service of the other motion (the one I eventually dropped!) he and his wife wouldn't have to be defending this newer motion, which promises to be much more problematic for them. But least they got $1000 bucks out of me.

That just about takes care of everything to the right of the black line, except for one more that I still haven't told you about: Green v Anchan et al. That's actually the sleeper paraphrase a former Middle East dictator, it's the "mother of all motions". I only just filed it at the end of August. Maybe you remember how I told you I was frustrating the University because I sued them for kicking me out of the practicum, instead of suing them for kicking me out of the education program. Well, now the other shoe has dropped. I'll tell you more about it later. If the University wanted me to sue them for the Non-Academic Misconduct...well, they've got what they wished for. We'll see how that works out for them. But for now, lets look at the left-hand side of the leger.

I already mentioned the Professor's appeal of their defeat on Summary Judgement, which goes before a judge instead of a master. Then there is my Application for a Grade (Applications are heard before a Queen's Bench Justice, not a Master) where I'm asking the court to compel Professor Metz to mark my assignment, which he claims I never completed. That should be interesting.

And then we get into the criminal cases. My trial for Trespassing, Mischief and Forcible Entry began on September 3rd and was adjourned, after a full day of testimony, til the 25th. But leading up to that trial, I had two Applications before Provincial Court. First, I applied for leave to call witnesses to the "home invasion" of January 11th, even thought I wasn't on trial for it. My application was granted by Judge Guy. Although the Crown didn't exactly oppose it, I still count it in the victory column because I was initially refused by the clerks at the Provincial Court Desk, so I had to prepare about 100 pages of evidence anhd arguments to make my case. And strategically, it was a huge setback for the University.

Then there was a subsequent motion before the same Judge to compel Mr. Meronek to accept service of my subpoenas, which he initially refused to do...I can't imagine why. As far as I could see, he was heading for a Contempt of Court citation if he stuck to his guns...fortunately, at the last minute his young associate Lindsay Mulholland brokered a deal whereby they accepted service. I count that as another win. So the score is standing at Green 5 - U of W 1.

So what else is there? Well, after I put all this together, I realized that there were still three motions that got argued before a judge and decided...two of them in my favor, and one against. But I just don't have any room left on my Venn Diagram. What were these motions?

Well, there were to Applications for Protective Orders by Professors Metz and Bush, where they went before a judge in my absence to try and get me declared a danger to their personal safety. The judge wasn't buying it. So that's two more win's in my column.

So what was the last item, the one that the University won? That was my bail hearing. After the University had me arrested, the crown offered to let me out if I promised to stay off University property and not contact University staff. I refused. So a hearing was ordered before a judge. The University stuck to its guns, and I was sent back to remand, and then Headingly. It was nine more days before I got out. The University had got what they asked for. Score: Green 7 - University 2.

But having flexed their muscle and shown they could have me locked up, they were now in an awkward position of having to get me convicted of a criminal offense in order to justify having locked me up. Which is where we are right now. And it may be only my opinion, but I don't think it's working out that well for them.

When we come back, I'm finally going to tell you how our session before Master Cooper wrapped up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In Which I Draw a Venn Diagram

Yesterday I started telling you about our marathon session before Master Cooper. We were dealing with multiple issues as between myself, the Professors, and the Schoolteachers, and the Master had decided that it was high time the Court assigned a single Master to oversee the whole ball of wax. We've now been scheduled to reconvene on the 27th of September. We'll see how that works out.

In the meantime, there was one more item on the day's list. It didn't concern the Schoolteachers, so Mr. Mackwood left. It was just me, Lindsay, and Master Cooper.

This was an item I had placed on the agenda just a few days earlier. I've told you how I was arrested last winter for trespassing on University property, sent to jail, and now I'm in court fighting criminal charges from that incident. Well, I'm looking over my previous blogposts and I'm not at all sure that I ever told you just how the trespassing charges came about. Yes, I was barred from the property...but why was I barred? Well, you know I'm suing the University for kicking me out of my teaching practicum at Gordon Bell. But that's not my only lawsuit. I had a particular grievance against one Professor Bush, who I felt had done some very bad things to me in class, things that unfairly singled me out and identified me as a troublemaker. So I put together a Statement of Claim charging Professor Bush with defamation. And on a cold Friday evening in January, I went to his home to serve him with the papers. One thing led to another, yada yada yada, and a month later I was sitting in Headingly Jail.

For now, like Elaine, I'm just going to yada yada over the best parts. (Yes, I know...she mentioned the bisque.) The point is that I actually withdrew the lawsuit I went there to serve that evening, and instead ended up suing Professor Bush and his wife for accusing me of home invasion. The University hired Mr. Meronek's firm to defend the Bushes, and they quickly filed a motion for Summary Judgement, including affidavits from both the Bushes denying any wrongdoing. (Looking over my old posts, I see I already summarized some of these things here, in a post titled "Trouble in Paradise".)

So anyhow in May we were in court, before Master Sharpe, and she asked me if I would be cross-examining the Bushes on their affidavits. I said no, I wouldn't; because I thought I could beat the motion without the need for cross. So then Master Sharpe told Lindsay (who was there for Mr. Meronek) that she had three weeks to file her Motions Brief. I was pretty surprised. "I thought that I had to file my Affidavit before they filed their Brief," I interjected. I mean, I was just learning this as I went along, but just a month earlier I had been before Master Lee and I was surprised when he told me that I had to file my affidavits on Mr. Meronek's Motion for Summary before he filed his brief. And here was Master Sharpe, doing it the other way around. But no one seemed to find it that unusual. Lindsay didn't object, so that's how it was set down.

Well, it seemed like I was being given a bit of an unfair advantage, but what could I do? I would get to see their arguments before I had to enter my evidence. The Master had given opposing counsel two or three weeks to file, and then we would have another appearance. A day or two before the scheduled appearance, I got a package from opposing counsel. It wasn't their Brief. They had filed additional affidavits, from Professor Metz and security chief Martin Grainger, denying that the Bushes had said the things I accused them of in my Statement of Claim. This was a complication.

When we appeared before Master Sharpe the next day, she asked if the brief had been filed as ordered. "No, your Honor, we have filed additional affidavits." Okay then...does Mr. Green wish to cross-examine on these new affidavits? Well, this was a new wrinkle. I'm not allowed to cross-examine on their affidavits and then subsequently file affidavits of my own. All affidavits have to be in before anyone goes to cross. But then I would lose the strategic advantage of having them file their brief before my Affidavit. I had hardly even had the chance to review the new material, and here I was having to make a difficult choice. "Your Honor, I'm going to have to get some advice on this and then get back to you". Okay, in that case, we will adjourn the matter sine die (without fixed date) and come back after the parties have worked this out between themselves. Those were the Master's instructions.

It didn't take me long to decide that I wasn't going to be drawn in. I carefully read over the new affidavits, and figured out that I could still beat the Summary Judgement motion without having to cross-examine. I wanted them to put their arguments on the table first, without the benefit of seeing my Affidavit evidence. And that's what I told Mr. Meronek.

And then I waited. Meanwhile, action was heating up on various fronts. Over the summer I reminded Mr. Meronek that he still owed me a brief, but I received no response. Now here it was, September already, and I was in court defending the criminal charges which ultimately stemmed from those very accusation of home invasion that I was suing the Bushes for, and they still hadn't filed their brief.

I realized that I was about to lose the strategic advantage Master Sharpe had given me back in May when she ordered briefs before affidavits...because in my criminal case, I was arguing the same evidence that I would ultimately be putting in my Affidavits on the Civil Case. So I wrote Mr. Meronek, telling him I wanted his Brief as soon as possible, and then put in a Requisition to have the Master set a timeline at our next hearing. Which brings us up to the present. I was asking the Master to instruct opposing counsel to cough up, pronto.

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I hadn't realized how much catch-up there was for me to do in bringing you up to date. So I'm going to have to continue this story tomorrow. But in the meantime, there was one more item of unfinished business from yesterday. I told you how there were so many motions and counter-motions on the table, it was getting hard to tell which was which. I actually told the Master that maybe we needed a Venn Diagram to organize things. Well, here it is:

These are all actions involving me: the green circle involves the Schoolteachers, the red circle is the Professors, and the orange circle is the Crown. The actions above the horizontal blue line are those initiated by other parties, the ones below...initiated by me. The matters to the left of the vertical black line are being argued before a judge, the ones to the right...before a master. You can see that I've grouped three actions in the middle with a purple ring....these are the motions with regard to my discovery rights, that I proposed the other day that we should argue them all together.

Actually, after putting this together, I noticed there were a few more actions and proceedings that I forgot to include. Maybe I'll try to add them in for next time. But the main order of business, when we return, is to tell you about the conclusion of our appearance on Tuesday before Master Cooper. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Appearing in Chambers: Master Cooper presiding

It should have been a very straightforward morning in the Master's Chambers. The Schoolteachers had put a motion on the Master's Uncontested list; it was their Motion for Summary Judgement. It's  called the "uncontested list" because the Court does not make the obvious assumption that I intend to oppose it; instead, I am called upon to appear before the Master and state my intentions. Naturally, I oppose the motion; and the matter then is transfered to the Contested List, and the parties are given time to file and serve their respective Affidavits, typically two to four weeks. The matter is then adjourned, to reconvene when the affidavits are due. It's a very straightforward process and that was all we really had scheduled for today.

Except in Green v U of W, nothing is simple and straightforward. This was our third appearance before the Master since July 30th, and our first before Master Cooper since we began proceedings a year ago. There are four Masters in the Queen's Bench: Lee, Sharpe, Berthaudin, and Cooper. This last round begain with an appearance before Master Berthaudin; it was adjourned for four weeks, and when we reconvened I was taken aback to see that it would be Master Sharpe presiding. (I told you about this in a previous post.) Nothing against Master Sharpe you understand...but the case file was getting pretty thick, and she had to review it from scratch. It seemed like a lot of extra work. Well, here we were again, and it was yet another different master on the third go-round!

And all the unfinished business from the previous two hearings was back on the table. Master Cooper started by asking if any of the parties (myself, Lindsay on behalf of the professors, and Geoff Mackwood on behalf of the schoolteachers) would like to start by listing the items before us, and where we stood in terms of what had been filed on each one. I deferred to Lindsay, and she began. "Well, there are four matters under considration today but three of them really go together..." and I'm thinking, right...
and then she starts listing them, and it's something like (my apologies if I've got this wrong) "so you see, your Honor, one of them involves both parties and three of them involve either my clients or Mr. Mackwood's clients..." and I say "Excuse me, your honor but that's not how I group them. I was thinking that the three that go together are the ones that involve my rights with respect to discovery."
And then everyone looks at each other for about two seconds, and I say, "Maybe we need to draw a Venn Diagram of everthing we've got on." And that kind of breaks the tension. I got the feeling Master Cooper has a bit more of a sense of humor than the other three Masters. At least I think she knew what a Venn Diagram was.

So we start arguing about how we want the matters to proceed. Of course Lindsay and Mr. Mackwood say that since  a victory by the Schoolteachers on the Motion for Summary would make everything else "moot", it should take precedence. I argue that my discovery rights, which had been put on hold since January, were back on as of June 27th when I won the Motion on Summary, and that my opponents should not be rewarded with a stay of proceedings on account of having stonewalled me all summer long. And furthermore, that the Schoolteachers had chosen to sit out the first Motion for Summary, only to have their crack at it eight months later, and now I was being forced to defend two consecutive motions for Summary without the benefit of discovery. That wasn't fair, I claimed. The Master then observed that "the one thing I can see for sure is than nobody agrees on anything. It looks like we need some case management here".

"Right!" I almost shouted. "Can we get you seized on this?" Since she was the first of the Masters who had come out and say that this was basically ridiculous the way it was going on (in terms of every Master having to come in and figure out from scratch what the last one had ordered), I figured she'd be a natural choice. "Well, actually...all the other Masters have been fine so far", I began to backtrack, and then trailed off almost inaudibly,"....but I think I'd like to have you seized on the case." Because sometimes you shouldn't wish for something in case you actually get it.  But in the end, it wouldn't matter what I fact, she was going to talk to the other Masters at lunchtime and see who could take it on.

I have to say that on sober second thought, I'm not entirely sure that I want "case management". I certainly think it makes sense to have one dedicated Master on the case, because the arguments from one proceeding constantly overlap with another. But beyond that, I think there's something else called "case management" whereby the Master basically takes charge of the whole sequence of events. I don't exactly mind that...but I'm afraid it lets the other side off the hook for the consequences of their actions. Right now, if for example they refuse to answer interrogatories, I have to make a motion to compel. If they refuse to set a date for discovery, I have to issue a Notice of Examination; if they fail to show up, I have to get a Certificate of Non-Attendance (which I did) and then I still haven't figured out what I do next. But the point is, I'm presently enforcing my rights through the Queen's Bench Rules, and I'm kind of having fun. I think the system "works"...and I'd kind of like to see how it plays out. Putting everything in the Master's hands removes the responsibility from both parties, and for my sake I'm not entirely sure it's necessary. But I'm willing to consider it.

In the meantime, although Master Cooper wasn't going to rule on any of these issues pending appointment of a case manager, she still wanted to hear are arguments. I already mentioned our argument over the Schoolteachers Motion for Summary. Then there was the case of the three motions regarding my rights to discovery. Those were:

1. My Motion for Exclusion of Parties, filed last year and put on hold by their January Motion for Summary.

2. My Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories, filed in June.

3. Their Motion to Stay Discovery, filed on August 27th.

I told the Master that because these issues were so inter-related, I thought it made sense to put them all together and argue them in one single hearing. Lindsay didn't agree. She thought her motion (to stay discovery) should come first. Well, the Master wanted to know, which matters were ready to proceed to argument? In fact, my Motion for Exclusion of Parties was all set to go, the briefs and affidavits having all been filed. As for the others, the Affidavits were all in, all we need to file were the Briefs. "That's not quite right", objected Lindsay. "Mr. Green has expressed his intention to cross-examine on Affidavit on our Motion to Stay, so we'll need to arrange a time for that". And she went onto say that since the deponent, Colin Russell, was extremely busy, being Registrar of the University and this being September, that she didn't know when she'd be able to book him.

"Oh no you don't", I wanted to say, but I didn't. I should have pointed out (but wasn't quick-witted enough) that all summer long, opposing counsel had put off filing affidavits and motions because "everyone was on holidays"; and now that they were back from holidays, everyone was "much too busy". Instead, I explained to the Master that there was already another motion where we had been ready to proceed, but at the last minute the Professors filed to more Affidavits, and when we appeared before the Master I still hadn't had time to review them, so I was still considering cross-examination. As a result, the Master adjourned sine die (which meant without a date); it only took me a few days to decide I didn't want to cross-examine, but in the meantime the Professors were off the hook in terms of producing their Brief, and four months had passed since then. "I don't want the same thing to happen here", I said. Because although this was their motion, not mine, they were nevertheless primarily interested in delaying things. "This whole conflict is based on my wanting to get to trial as quickly as possible, and their wanting to do everything they can to stop me from going to trial." I told the Master that busy or not, the Registrar was readily available; that he was in fact the University's designated "point man" on all matters related to Marty Green, and that in any event the examination would be extremely short, consiting of exactly one question, which I predicted the Russell would refuse to answer! And then I would be coming back to the Master to get an order compelling him to answer the question. In fact, I could see no reason why the Court could not simply acknowledge this sequence of events and proceed to briefs on the basis that it had actually happened, instead of making us go through the motions. (It turns out that's actually done.)

Master Cooper wasn't ready to go that far. But she was curious. Just what was I planning to ask the defendants, and why was I so sure they wouldn't answer? I was a bit taken aback at this, but I looked around and said...well, I guess it doesn't hurt me to tell you here and now. In his Affidavit, Mr. Russell states that the University "has already spent considerable time and money defending itself from these action by Mr. Green." Very simply, I'm going to ask him: how much time and how much money?"

I swear that Lindsay's face turned white. "Your honor", she sputtered, "that would be...that..." What....irrelevant? confidential? Of course it would be. Except...that you've entered it as evidence. So now it becomes the everyone's business! Furthermore, I think it was scandalous and inappropriate for Russell have made that argument in his affidavit, and the punishment (having to disclose his legal bills!) should fit the crime. At least, that's what I would be arguing when I asked the Master to compel an answer. And I think Lindsay knew she was cornered.

I wrapped up by saying that there was no reason the discovery of Russell couldn't be arranged within a month, and then all remaining briefs could be filed on the three motions. And furthermore, I would be arguing that given the Defandants utter refusal to answer interrogatories, my only effective remedy would be to have my Discovery examinations held before a master (instead of a court reporter), so when they refused to answer, I could immediately turn to the Master and say..."Your Honor?"

At this, Mackwood jumped in and tried to justify the Schoolteachers blanket refusal to answer interrogatories. "He was asking for names and addresses of students, he intoned in a disapproving voice." Yes I was. And teachers as well. As I was entitled to. Who else were the witnesses to the horrible acts I was accused of? Mr. Mackwood surely knew that according to the Manitoba Rules, parties are allowed to ask the names and addresses of potential witnesses. And in any case, their refusal to answer was not limited to the names of complainants and witnesses, but included particulars of the acts I was accused of. Worst of all, as I pointed out to the Master, Mackwood was ignoring the fact that very early on in the process, I had attempted to discuss with him how he wanted to deal with the issue of confidentiality, and he had simply ignored my inquiries. 

Master Cooper listened carefully to all the foregoing arguments, and in the end, concluded that she was reserving decision on all these matters pending appointment of a case manager. We were now almost finished, except for one remaining item, involving only myself and the Professors. So Mr. Mackwood was free to go. He left, and then it was just the three of us.

And here's where it gets intersting. But since this has already been one of my longest blogposts ever, I'm going to finish this story when we return. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Professor Bell Teaches us about Bloom's Levels

Another classmate has joined the discussion. Following my last blog, "He Who Carries Fire" weighed in to add her point of view on why I deserved to be kicked out of school. I say "her" because I think she's a girl. She greets me with "Shana Tova" and I don't remember any other male Jewish students in my classes. To dodge the issue I'll just call him/her HWCF.

I didn't ask a lot of questions in class. People who remember me as an Engineering student thirty-some years ago will find this incredible, but hear me out. I didn't start out as a questioner. My university career began in1975 as a student in the Faculty of Music. For my arts/science option, I took a second-year math course called "Basic Concepts in Mathematical Analysis" , or Basic Con for short. (I already had first-year calculus from high school.) I had always breezed through my math courses, so I was pretty shocked on the first test of the year to find I had gotten a mark of 4 out of 50. I realized I was understanding nothing of what was going on in class. Starting the very next class, I started listening very carefully and interrupting the prof every time he said something I couldn't make sense of.  And if I didn't understand his answer, I'd argue the point.

They didn't kick me out of university for that. In fact, I passed the course with an A. From then, asking questions (and sometimes arguing the answers) became an essential part of my learning style. There is nothing acrimonious or confrontational about this kind of argument. It's a way to learn, whether you win or lose. In fact, it happens to derive from a millenium-old Jewish tradition called pilpul, a form of Talmudic analysis which many people consider to be the reason why we have produced Einsteins and Spinozas so far out of proportion to our numbers in the general population.

Professor Bell actually taught us that there were four different learning styles, which he listed by name. I don't actually remember what they were, but I remember waiting for an opportunity to ask the question, where does arguing fit in to your paradigm? Because "arguing" was not one his four canonical learning styles. I never asked the question because there was never a time in class where we actually talked about the meaning or significance of the different learning styles. So I would have had to interject out of context in order to bring up the point. The occasion never arose, so I let it slide.

There's another reason I didn't ask the question. It seemed clear to me that in general, the professor was simply going through the motions of putting information on the board, and that most of the time he had no particular interest or understanding of what he was telling us. So asking a question would just be a waste of everyone's time. It was different with my math profs or my engineering profs, who actually had some knowledge to impart. In the case of Professor Bell, what benefit was there for me to ask him a question when I had no confidence that his answer would be worth anything? I certainly did not expect to gain any useful insights from anything he might have said.

But things got a little complicated when he started teaching us about Bloom's Levels. This was something that I was actually interested in, and it had some importance for me. It seemed that Bloom had identified seven levels of cognitive thinking: I'm working from memory here, and I can only remember six of them, but in order from lowest to highest they were:
  • knowledge
  • comprehension
  • application
  • analysis
  • synthesis
  • evaluation
I was going to be teaching Basic Electricity to my Grade Nine Practicum in a few weeks, and one of the big topics in electricity is of course Ohm's Law. So in my mind I tried to make sense of Bloom's Levels by applying them to Ohm's Law. And it turned out they were not quite right. To see why, let me backtrack a little.

Before I took Engineering, I actually started the Electronics Technology program at Red River College. The very first class the instructor wrote on the board:

 V = IR

 He told us that this was Ohm's Law, and it related to Voltage, Current (I) and Resistance. I thought this was pretty exciting. Then he told us that since it was the first day of classes, we weren't going to do any more, and he was dismissing us early. We'd get into things when we returned the next day.

Well, I spent the rest of the morning walking around the campus thinking about Ohm's Law. It was amazing. What if you had a big resistor and a small current...what did that mean for the voltage? And what if your resistance went to zero? How could the current be infinity? It was all mind-boggling. I could hardly wait to see what we would learn on Day Two.

The next day the instructor started of by saying, "yesteday we learned about Ohm's Law". Yes, yes, I was thinking, what new laws will we learn today? "So today I've prepared some exercises." He started walking around the classroom handing out worksheets, and when he got to me I saw it was fifty problems on Ohms Law. "A stove element draws 8 Amps at 120 Volts. What is the resistance? An amplifier speaker has a resistance of 8 ohms and is driven by a signal of 6 volts. What is the current?
And so forth. Well...I didn't really need fifty question to hammer home the point, but this was Commnity College...what did I expect? I might as well go with the flow. At least it's a chance to think about stove elements and speaker coils...

But then the prof started circling the class a second time. When he got to me, I saw that he had another worksheet. It was problems 51  through 100. All exactly the same! This was not going to work for me. I left Red River that day and transferred to Engineering at the U of M.

Now, getting back to Bloom's Levels: it seemed pretty clear to me that when the prof wrote V=IR on the board the first day, that was Knowledge. And when I walked around the campus thinking about what it meant, that was Comprehension. And when we went through the worksheets doing 100 calculations, that was Application. But according to Bloom's Levels, "Application" was considered a higher cognitive level than "Comprehension". But it didn't feel that way for me...surely, when I was walking around thinking about what Ohm's Law meant, I was operating at a higher cognitive level than the next day when I was mechanically plugging numbers into formulas on the worksheet? In other words, for Ohms Law, "Comprehension" should rank above "Application".

This was something I really wanted to bring up in class. But I didn't. Why not? Because, to put it simply, the opportunity simply never arose. To be sure, there was some further discussion of Bloom's levels. In particular, Professor Bell told us that when we wrote tests, we had to make sure that our test questions operated at all six (seven?) of Bloom's Levels. Now, obviously, to do that, you would think we would need to understand what Bloom's Levels were all about. So I eagerly waited for the chance to talk about my point of view. (By the way....isn't that what teachers are supposed to be...people who want to share their knowledge with others?) But the opportunity never came.

Professor Bell simply told us how to identify the various levels. "If a question starts with "what", it's Level One. If a question has the words "describe, list, etc." it's Level Four. If it says "explain, analyze" etc. it's Level Three. Or whatever. We had a table of key words that lined up to each of Bloom's Levels, and we had to make sure we covered all the levels by cross-referencing out keywords.

Now, maybe you don't find this so appalling. If not, there's nothing I can add to explain what is so very wrong about this whole scenario. Or maybe you think it's appalling the way I describe it, but that I must be couldn't have been that bad the way it actually happened. Maybe so. But all I know is that it was a topic of great personal importance to me; that I had a story I wanted very much to tell; that I attended every class and waited patiently for the opportunity to have my say; and that the moment never came.

From this I was prepared to conclude that Professor Bell was an awful instructor. But wait...there's more.

I've described two incidents where I didn't pick an argument with the prof, even though I felt very much that I had something that needed to be said. The reasons why I held back were a combination of lack of reasonable opportunity to initiate the discussion, and lack of any reasonable expectation that the discussion would be engaged in a meaningful way by the professor. And yet my newest correspondent, HWCF, lambastes me for "hijacking class time and...what was it...

"I often found myself wanting to leave class when you got up on your proverbial soap box; I was reluctant to give you an audience and validate the manner in which you opposed our instructors' course content, ability to teach, right to teach, etc...telling professors they are wrong after stating you have not taken the time to read the course material"

This mini-rant echos the type of generalized complaints previously voiced by Miss Anonymous, but in fact it actually refers to a single incident, which HWCF identifies only obliquely but nevertheless, for those who were there to recognize the context, quite unambiguously. It is the third incident of the series I have been talking about in today's post, and it is the occasion on which I felt I had no choice but to challenge the professor directly. I think it is noteworthy that HWCF (like Miss Anonymous before her) does not see fit to discuss the actual content of my remarks or why they found them to be so out of line; rather, it is apparent that they are both of them supremely offended not so much by what I said or the way I said it, but by the mere fact of my expressing public disagreement with the professor! To emphasize the point, both HWCF and Miss Anonymous express particular pride in the fact that although they and their fellow students found many of the assigments and things they were taught to be silly, pointless, or a waste of time...that they nevertheless kept their mouths shut and did what they were told. And this is to their credit, while I am guilty for being to stubborn to do the same!

I'm going to leave off the story here and continue when we return with my version of what happened next. We'll see what it was that finally motivated me to "hijack the class" and use it as "my own personal soapbox".

POSTSCRIPT: I'm re-reading what Miss Anonymous and HWCF wrote, each independently patting themselves on the back for just doing the work that was assigned even if they thought it was stupid and pointless, and blaming me for not doing the same. In a nutshell, that's exactly what's wrong with the education system, and why we need a few more teachers like me instead of them. They'll go out there and expect their students to be like them: whatever the teacher tells them, they should do it without complaining even if they think it's stupid and pointless. That's exactly the opposite of what I do, and what I expect of my students. I take those same stupid pointless assignments, like the Calvin and Hobbes analysis, or the Concept Chart, and make something fun and interesting of them. I never complained about the homework, and even the profs should admit that this is true. I had fun with it, even if I had to stretch the boundaries. That's what I do, and that's what I would encourage my students to do. That's why I would have been an infinitely better teacher than the people who are criticizing me.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Criminal Minds: Day One of Three

Today I appeared in Criminal Court on charges of Trespassing, Mischief, and Forcible Entry.

This is going to be a short post because I'm exhausted. I never believed I would actually end up arguing my case: I was sure the Crown would drop the charges at the last minute. But he didn't. The game is on.

Mr. Grieves, the Crown prosecutor, had set the trial down for one day, but it soon became apparent that between his witnesses, my witnesses, and time for argument and summation, that it would be more like three days. Today he called his witnesses, and next time we'll call my witnesses. Except because of scheduling conflicts, we had a bit of a trade-off where I deferred cross-examination of his last witness and examined my first witness instead. We didn't finish til almost six.

I'm not going to tell you much because I don't know what I'm allowed to say while the trial was still on. But I think I'm allowed to say I felt pretty good when I left. In fact, that would be an understatement. I think I'm winning, and I'll have some pretty good stories to tell when its all over. But I think that's all I'm going to say for now.

Actually, there's one more reason I'm holding back. As I told you recently, I had been able, with some difficulty, to subpoena six witnesses for the trial. I honestly thought that my witnesses would refuse to show up, and the Crown would drop the charges. But here they were! Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that we wouldn't have time to examine them today. So they'll have to come back next time. But as she was dismissing them, the Judge ordered them not to discuss any testimony amongst themselves. I don't believe I am under any such restriction with regard to this blog; but I feel it would be outside the spirit of the Judge's intentions for me to crow about the day's events while my, witnesses...are muzzled. So I'm going to keep a lid on it.

We return to court at 9:00 am (that's an hour early because the judge wanted to make sure we had time to do all my witnesses) on Wednesday the 25th of September in Rm 403. That's a big courtroom so they might move us down the hall to a smaller room after we get started. And it's open to the public. I know it seems funny to just drop in on a courtroom and watch the fun, but maybe people should do it more often.

In the meantime, the civil proceedings are heating up as well, so I should have some more stories on that front.  Stay tuned...