Saturday, March 30, 2013

Their Side of the Story

One of my more faithful readers has made the observation that it would be nice to hear the University's side of the story for a change. I'm a little hurt by that jab because I feel I've been bending over backwards to give them fair coverage. Almost everything I post about them is in the form of their own written communications, and I can't honestly see where any of it is out of context of framed in a misleading way.

At the same time, I feel I've been pretty restricted in what I'm able to disclose about my side of the story. I've posted all kinds of allegations from the other side about outrageous conduct on my part, without responding at all; the part about making a girl cry, the story about ridiculing a guest in the classroom, and a disturbing episode at Professor Bush's residence which I see that I haven't yet discussed in any detail. It's not that I don't want to respond: I just don't feel the time is right, strategically. I'd like to think that someday I'll have my say.

And by the way, the University has had ample opportunity to hear my side of the story. I showed up at my disciplinary hearing on March 23rd with a big file full of documents that I wanted to disclose, but the committee chair, Grace O'Farrell, cut me off shortly after the 30-minute time limit which she had decreed for my presentation, before I had gotten half-way through my presentation. And then the Board of Governors ignored repeated requests on my part to hear my further appeal, even though the University rules seemed to guarantee me that right. So I'm still waiting for my chance to tell my story.

But in the meantime the University's case against me has been emerging in dribs and drabs. The first thing to come out was the Registrar's letter to me summarizing the complaints that the Dean had submitted to him. Remember, I was kicked out of the practicum on Nov. 21st 2011 and the misconduct proceedings were initiated the next day: it wasn't until four days before Christmas that the Registrar finally disclosed the case against me, and even then only in the form of a bare-bones summary. I posted it on my blog last January, and even though the allegations made me look pretty despicable, I didn't post my response. Not because I didn't have a response, but because I wanted them to put their evidence on the table first. I'm still waiting. In any case, here is the link to that letter of Dec. 21st.

I don't think I've been avoiding opportunities to tell the University's side of the story. I was going through everything in sequence last winter until March, when I abruptly stopped blogging. At this moment I'm not quite sure why that happened. I had just gotten up to the point where they had banned me from the campus last winter, and I had asked for the right to appeal the ban. They refused to let me appeal, and they refused to disclose the grounds for the trespassing order. Again, I'd like to tell my side of the story, but at the risk of repeating myself, I don't feel it's in my best interests at this time. So we'll have to leave it at that for now.

In any case, my blog cuts off around that time with no further explanation, and doesn't resume until September, around the time when I launched my lawsuit against the University. Shortly after I filed, the Free Press picked up on the story and ran an article about it. There were a lot of talk-backs to the article, and they were generally pretty hostile. In particular, someone complained that the University's side of the story wasn't being presented. So I replied by posting a link to the Registrar's letter where he lists the accusations against me. As a result, that particular post got more hits than anything else on my blog....496 hits as of today, to be exact. "Ernest Goes to Jail" is a distant second at 279 pageviews. (Interestingly, both are beaten by "How A Motor Works" on my physics blog, with 591 hits.) The point is, I haven't been shy about telling people what the University says about me.
In the meantime, there's a pretty big hole in the narrative, which I see now that I've never gotten around to filling in. So let's see...first of all, the stuff I was posting in March was about things that had happened back in January. So there's a two-month gap that needs to be filled in. Here is the short story. I was suspended from attending class on the afternoon of the 11th, and notified of the trespassing ban later that evening. In other words, if I showed up on Campus, I would be arrested. I pretty much considered that to be a de facto expulsion, and told the University as much in my letter the next morning, when I asked permission to appeal. I said if they weren't willing to allow my appeal, they ought to refund my tuition in full.

My letter was answered by Vice-President Academic John Corlett, who said that the University was not willing to reconsider the trespassing ban, and accordingly he would undertake to arrange for a full refund of my tuition fees. There was a catch: I had to voluntarily withdraw from the program.

I didn't like that very much. If I withdrew voluntarily, wouldn't that mean I would relinquish any right to defend myself against the charges of Non-Academic Misconduct, which were still pending? Corlett assured me that the Registrar would be issuing his findings on those charges as soon as possible, so I decided to wait.

It took the Registrar another nine days to decide I was guilty of misconduct. Not a thing happened during that time interval except for a curious milestone that occured on the seventh of those nine days: the deadline for second-term voluntary withdrawal (without penalty) came and went. The University then calculated my tuition refund on the basis of VW after the second-term deadline. So instead of getting a full refund of my $4200 tuition fees, as promised by the VP, or at least my second-term fees refunded it full, I got instead a check for $1300. Slick move.

But that's hardly the point here. I told you I was going to present the University's case, and that's what I'm coming to. Because when Colin Russell found me guilty, he wrote a report to Lloyd Axworthy which I received a copy of. And that's what I want to share with you.

But let's wait until tomorrow for that. In the meantime, I notice I made an accidental pop culture reference two paragraphs ago which....well, here you go:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Glen Moulaison Takes Over my Grade Appeal

I've been telling you the story of my grade appeal in Professor Bush's course, which began in January 2012 when I received an F on this term paper. An "F" is a pretty low grade in the Faculty of Education, and I thought it was a pretty good paper. So I tried to appeal my grade. The Registrar found procedural reasons for ignoring my appeal, but I persisted throughout the winter and spring, writing the University on at least half a dozen occasions seeking leave to appeal. Finally, at the end of the summer, the Registrar agreed to submit my appeal to the Departmental Committee. In October, they returned their verdict: my appeal was denied, and the F would stand.

In theory, I was entitled to one more level of appeal: the Senate Appeals Committee. After many delays and runarounds, I was finally contacted by the Chair of the Committee in November. I asked Blair to provide me with the Departmental Committee's reasons for rejecting my appeal, and he agreed to do so.

This is where it gets interesting. The Departmental Committee balked at Blair's request. Instead, they wanted me to re-submit the term paper. I objected to this. I didn't want them to re-mark the paper: I wanted their reasons for rejecting my appeal. Furthermore, I had initially submitted an original doc file of my assignment. Now they wanted the marked copy including Professor Bush's comments.

I wasn't interested in showing them Professor Bush's reasons for giving me an F. I wanted their reasons. That was the whole idea of the appeal. It's too easy for them to give me an F if they have all the reasons on paper in front of them. I wanted to know what an independent, objective panel would say about my paper on its own merits. That purpose would be completely defeated by handing over Prof. Bush's negative comments.

While this point was being argued back and forth via email, it emerged that in reviewing my grade, the Departmental Committee had neglected to even read the paper that was the subject of the appeal!
What happened next is still a little hard to say. What is known is that a month later, Danny Blair was no longer in charge of my appeal, and his place had been taken by Dean of Arts Glen Moulaison. Moulaison turned out to be a no-nonsense type of guy. Which is to say, he wasn't going to put up with any nonsense from me. On the 31st of January, he wrote me to say that in view of the facts, a meeting of the Senate Committee was not necessary. He was simply going to refer the matter back to the Departmental Committee to have them remark the paper.

I wrote back that I did not find this to be a satisfactory outcome. I wished to present my arguments in person to the Senate Committee; Danny Blair had told me I would be allowed to do so, and that was what I wanted. I did not hear back from Moulaison for three weeks. Then, in response to further prodding, he replied that he was indeed going ahead with setting up a meeting of the Senate Committee, but he had decided that my presence at that meeting was not necessary!

The Senate Committee met two weeks later, and I was subsequently informed that they had, without my presence, acceded to the demand of the Departmental Committee that I provide a copy of the marked assignment with Professor Bush's notes.

In the meantime, the University had obtained a Court Order severely restricting my right to communicate with University staff. I wrote back:

I do not think it was proper for the Senate Committee to have made its decision without allowing me to present my case. Further, I am not comfortable carrying on a protracted discussion via email while I am under the restrictions of the present court order. I therefore do not recognize the legality of the Committee's decision, and wish to dispute it.
Would you therefore send me a link to (or copy of) the relevant University regulations under which the decision was made? As an alternative, perhaps you would suspend the decision and wait until such time as I am no longer under the present restrictions to my freedom of speech, which I anticipate will be sometime in September.
Marty Green

Moulaison wrote back the same day:

Dear Marty,

The decision has been made by the Senate Committee and it has been communicated to you. It requires you to provide the original marked assignment by March 26. If the assignment is not received by that date, no further action will be taken regarding this appeal. The decision as to whether you comply with the Committee's decision is yours to make.

Glenn Moulaison

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Skirmishing with Aikins MacCaulay

EDIT: OH MY GOD it's not Aikins MacCaulay, it's Darcy and Deacon! Aikins are the lawyers for the schoolteachers, and Darcy are the lawyers for the university. The little fight I describe below is between me and Mr. Meronek of Darcy and Deacon! Apologies to the people at Aikins for the confusion.

Back in January, the lawyers for the University slipped something passed me that I didn't think was quite right. They amended one paragraph of their Statement of Defence. Originally, the paragraph read as follows:

24. In further answer to paragraph 34 of the Statement of Claim, these Defendants deny that they, amongst themselves, or with the other Defendants, conspired or combined to injure the Plaintiff as alleged or at all; and, state further that the Plaintiff was properly suspended from his couses at the Faculty of Education, one of the consequences of which was the Plaintiff's removal from his teaching practicum.

For some reason, the lawyers decided they wanted to argue this point a bit differently, so on January 14th they filed an Amended Statement of Claim, reading as follows:

24. In further answer to paragraph 34 of the Statement of Claim, these Defendants deny that they, amongst themselves, or with the other Defendants, conspired or combined to injure the Plaintiff as alleged or at all; and, state further that the Plaintiff was properly suspended from his couses at the Faculty of Education. The Plaintiff's removal from his teaching practicum occurred independently and prior to his suspension from the Faculty of Education.

At the time they didn't notify me, and I didn't find out until a month later. I checked with the Queen's Bench Rules, and as far as I can see, they are allowed to make unannounced changes only for clerical errors. For substantial changes, they need written consent from me; or failing that, if I choose to be a hardass, they can go to the court and file a motion for leave to amend. Of course, there's a downside for me being a hardass...if the court decides there was no reason why I shouldn't have given them written consent, they can assess costs against me for the motion.

Either way, they didn't ask for consent, and they didn't file a motion. So I filed a motion calling on the Court to strike their amendment as having been done in contravention of the Queen's Bench Rules.

I'm not sure I care how Paragraph 24 of the Statement of Defence reads, and if they had bothered to ask me I'm not sure whether I would have opposed it or not. The thing is: there are rules for these things, and I want to know if the Courts are going to enforce the rules or not? Hence, my motion.

A motion of this kind normally goes on the Master's Uncontested List. The idea is that the other side might not choose to oppose the motion. Certainly in this case they've made an amendment and they want it to stand. But to accomplish that goal there is no need to oppose the motion. They can simply agree to the motion, and then go back to Square One and ask me for consent. That's more or less what I was expecting.

But when we appeared in court this morning, opposing counsel announced (to my surprise) that they would indeed be opposing the motion. I'm not sure what grounds they're going to argue. I would have thought I have them dead to rights. But you never know. Anything can happen in court. So now we're going to be filing affidavits and briefs, and eventually we're going to argue the motion before a Master.

We'll see how that works out. If you'd like to read my Notice of Motion, you can find it here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The University Puts its Best Foot Forward

I've been pre-occupied with various side-shows over the last two months. There is the Notice of Appeal where I've asked the Court to order the University to tell Professor Metz to mark my assignment from last winter; there is the grade appeal in Professor Bush's course where I finally got the University to admit they never even re-read my assingment before rubber-stamping the F that Professor Bush had given me; and of course the small matter of the University having me thrown in jail for trespassing. But the main event is still my claim against the University for Conspiracy to Injure, which has been held up since January on a Motion for Summary Judgement filed by opposing counsel.

I told you about their motion, and I even posted it online. You can see that it's a bit sketchy. Never mind; the details would ultimately be filled in by their Motions Brief, which I got in mid-February. They didn't give it to me in electronic form, so it's not so convenient for me to post it, but essentially they argue three different grounds for striking the motion: evidentiary, jurisdictional, and defective pleadings.  It's basically the triple whammy of summary judgement.

In response, I filed my own brief with the Court; if you'd like to read it, I've posted it online here. (Actually it's not quite the final draft that I filed, but it's pretty close.) I start of with a short history of Summary Judgement, which turns out to be pretty interesting. The original idea of Summary Judgement was that there was no need to go to trial if there is no real dispute over the facts. The legal phrase is "no genuine issue for trial". It means that one side or the other really has no facts to back up its case. And until fairly recently, that was the only way you argued for summary judgement. There was a definite protocol involved. First, the moving party had to show that it had evidence to contradict all of the essential points of the other side. If they did, then the onus shifted to the responding party to show that it had at least something to argue back with. The idea wasn't to argue the case on its merits at this stage. You just had to show that you had something to go to trial with. Only if you really had nothing would the court award summary judgement. Otherwise you were entitled to go to trial.

More recently the precise meaning of the phrase "no genuine issue for trial" has loosened up to include any number of reasons why you might have no reasonable prospect of winning. These include what I listed above as defective pleadings or jurisdictional issues. Counsel has argued both of these; I don't feel I have too much to worry about here, and I'm not going to deal with those issues today. You can read my brief online if you want to know what I have to say about them.

The really interesting issue is the good old-fashioned Summary Judgement on Evidence. It's interesting not because the University has a case, but because they appear to me to have made a very bad error in putting forward their argument. I already described the two-step process in a motion for summary judgement: first, the University has to show they have evidence to contradict all my essential points; then, the onus shifts to me to produce evidence to back up my points. If I have any credible evidence whatsoever, I'm entitled to go to trial.  Otherwise, they can get summary judgement in their favor.

The problem is that the University seems to have forgotten the first part of the two-stage process. They have demanded that I put forth evidence to show there was a conspiracy against me, but they haven't put forward any evidence to contradict the facts as alleged in my Statement of Claim. According to the protocols, the onus does not shift to me until they have met this initial burden; and so far as I can see from reading their brief, they make no attempt whatsoever, other than repeating the bald assertions of innocence set forth by the parties in their Statements of Defence. That's not evidence, and it doesn't shift the onus.

In a motion for Summary Judgement, the court will not weigh competing evidence. It will only award judgement if one side is unable to produce any evidence that would justify going to trial. 99.9% of the cases...this would be the responding party. No one would be foolish enough to move for summary judgement without putting forward some evidence. The court might rule that his evidence is insufficient to shift the onus to the responding that case it would dismiss the motion. But what if the moving party introduces no evidence whatsoever?

Then it is not a case of weighing competing evidence from the two parties...because there is nothing from the one side to go on the scales. This anomalous situation raises the horrifying possibility that summary judgement could be granted in favor of the responding party...which would be me! It does not appear to be something that has ever happened in any country where the Common Law of England prevails, but I have found a very interesting case where the judge recognizes it as a distinct theoretical possibility. (You can read it here.)

So why doesn't the University just bring forward some evidence? Surely they have something they can bring forward. Well, it's not so easy at this stage. There in the law a presumption that in making their arguments, both parties have "put their best foot forward". They are not supposed to be holding back anything for later on down the road. At this stage in the proceedings, the affidavits have all been filed and the University's case is on the record. The problem is that the University's lawyers went to Colin Russell, the registrar, and got him to file an affidavit with the University's evidence. Russell can't seem to get it through his head that I am suing for the way they kicked me out of the high school practicum. He wishes that I were suing for the non-academic misconduct proceedings, which he was in charge of. So all the evidence he put in his affidavit related to details of the misconduct proceedings.

I'm not suing for the misconduct proceedings. I'm suing for the ambush when they kicked me out of Gordon Bell on the 21st of November. The non-academic proceedings began on the next day, the 22nd of November, and that is where Colin Russell's evidence begins.

The university put its best foot forward and fell flat on its face.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

How to Tell if You Are A Pompous Ass

I'm always interested in ways to step back and take an objective look at yourself. Especially since people are always saying I'm crazy. I need to be able to look at myself and apply some objective criteria to see if it's true. That's why I write articles like "How Crazy Am I?" I want to know. If you look at my Physics Blog, you'll see I've asked myself similar questions when I took an online Crackpot Test to see if I was...well...a crackpot. I scored 155. I don't know where that puts me on the bell curve, but that's what I scored.

But it has to go both ways. In response to the Crackpot Test, posted by physics forum moderator John Baez, I put up a test of my own: How to Tell if You're a Self-Appointed Defender of the Orthodoxy. If you're a frequent poster on internet physics discussions, you might want to try it.

What I've got today isn't exactly a test. It's just that sometimes people give themselves away inadvertently, and when you see what they've done, there isn't much doubt. Let's suppose you're a university professor and you're asked to be in charge of a grade appeal. Some student has been given an F on a paper and he wants to appeal it. You round up a handful of other professors, and the student submits his work. You find that there is no merit to his appeal, and rule that the F stands. The appeal is rejected.

However, the student is still allowed one final appeal before a Senate Committee. So two months later, you get an email from the committee chair, asking you to explain in writing the procedures used in order to arrive at your decision. You write back:

"The Education Departmental Review Committee (DRC) consists of eight faculty members who have many years of experience and relevant qualifications in both setting and grading assessment instruments at the university level. Members on the committee include experts in science teaching pedagogy. We met on October 3, 2012 to consider the appeal...

Here's the thing: if you felt the need in these circumstances to include all that stuff about how you have years of relevant experience and about being experts in pedagogy...then you're probably a pompous ass. I'm just saying.

I've posted Professor Appel's letter in full the other day. Although he goes to some lengths to crow about the eminent qualifications of himself and his colleagues, he is oddly silent about one salient fact. He and his committee did not read the term paper which was the subject of the appeal! To be sure, they re-read the final exam, which was also part of the appeal, but the exam was worth only 15% of the course grade. It was the F on the term paper, for 30% of the course, which was the real issue of the appeal, and for some reason the committee never even read it before ratifying the final grade!

Most significantly, at the time Professor Appel wrote his letter, he and his committee were painfully aware of this oversight. So it must have been particularly challenging for his to write a letter describing the procedures used in deciding the grade appeal while avoiding any mention of this not-too-insignificant point. You would think that an explanation of the procedures in deciding an appeal should have included some discussion of why it was not considered necessary to review the material submitted by the appelant, and how that decision was arrived at. On the other hand, he had no problem commencing his letter with a self-serving preamble in which he puffs up his chest and proclaims his own importance.

But I guess that's what you do when you're a pompous ass.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The DRC is Caught With Their Pants Down

It's time to get back to the story of my grade appeal in Professor Bush's course. When we left off, I had finally been put in touch with Danny Blair, the chair of the Senate Appeals Committee. However, to my consternation, registrar Colin Russell continued to meddle in my negotiations with Blair, despite my protests. Weeks were turning into months, and I was still trying to get Blair to follow through on his commitment to provide written reasons for the Departmental committee's rejection of my initial appeal. I wrote him as follows:
It is now six weeks since I received an undertaking (see below) from Prof. Blair that the Education DRC would provide me with written reasons for their rejection of my grade appeal.
I would also remind the University that I expect them to provide me for a grade on all assignments handed in prior to my removal from the program, and that Mr. Russell and Prof. Metz are aware of the one remaining assignment which I am still owed.
If no response is forthcoming on either of these items before the end of this week, I will assume the University does not intend to follow through on its obligations to me, and I will proceed accordingly.
Marty Green
But once more, instead of hearing back from Blair, it was Russell who responded:

Dear Marty,
Dr. Blair has received the report from the Education DRC; it addresses the exam, but not the assignment which was the basis of your appeal. Therefore, the Senate Appeals Committee will convene to review the appeal process undertaken by the Education DRC, as you have requested. Dr. Glenn Moulaison, Dean of Arts, will be the Acting Chair of Senate Appeals for this proceeding.
On the matter of the outstanding assignment, I reiterate the University's position that no evaluation is provided for course-work after a student's withdrawal from a course, whether the work was submitted before or after the date of withdrawal.
Best wishes,

Again, I protested Russell's meddling in the process:
Dear Prof. Blair:
I cannot for the life of me understand why Colin Russell continues to be involved in this process. I understood that I was dealing with you on the matter of my grade appeal; you had made certain undertakings which, thanks in some measure to Mr. Russell's interference, you now do not seem willing to follow through on. If the Senate wishes to delegate its authority in this affair to Mr. Russell, then I need to be so informed officially. Otherwise I await your answer on my request for the DRC's reasons for rejecting my grade appeal.
Marty Green

Russell replied to this by threatening me with harassment proceedings...under what jurisdiction, I can't imagine, since I was no longer a student at the U of W:

Dear Marty,
Further appeal to the Senate Appeals Committee is typically undertaken through the Registrar, so I am usually involved in such processes. In any case, for purposes of communication with the University on all matters including the grade appeal, I will be the point of contact and you should desist in emailing all others including Professors Blair, Metz and Bush. Your continued non-compliant conduct may be considered as harassing, and misconduct under the Policy.

It was January 2013 already and I still hadn't got the Committee's written reasons! So I wrote back:

>>> "Marty Green" <> 1/18/2013 12:33 PM >>>
Okay, so what about my appeal? Is it still in progress? Will I be getting the DRC report? Am I going to appear before the Senate committee?
Russell replied with the following bombshell:

Dear Marty,
As Dr. Moulaison has taken over from Dr. Blair as Chair of Senate Appeals for this matter, the office of the Dean of Arts will be in touch shortly to schedule a hearing if you wish to appear before the Committee or provide any further written material for them to consider. Below is the report from the DRC that was received by Dr. Blair.
Best wishes,
To: Danny Blair
Chair of the Senate Appeals Committee
From: Allan Appel
Co-chair of the DRC, Faculty of Education

January 9, 2013

The Education Departmental Review Committee (DRC) consists of eight faculty members who have many years of experience and relevant qualifications in both setting and grading assessment instruments at the university level. Members on the committee include experts in science teaching pedagogy. We met on October 3, 2012 to consider the appeal of Martin Green (1057942).

The committee had received two documents for our deliberations:
1.Copy of the exam used in EDUC-4869-150 Senior Years Curriculum and Instruction: Theory of Science Teaching,
2.Martin Greens answers to the exam.
In our meeting, we reviewed both documents using the following parameters as reference:

For the exam instrument:
a.Was the exam a suitable assessment instrument for a university course of this calibre?
b.Were students given a choice as to which questions they could answer?
c.Were the mark allocations clearly demonstrated on the exam document?
d.Did the exam evaluate topics that had been taught in the course and were part of the course outline?
e.Was adequate time given for students to respond to the exam questions?

Instructions to prepare students for the exam
a.Were students apprised of the contents of the exam?
b.Were they advised as to what materials they could bring to this open book exam?

For the exam written by Martin Green
a.Was each section of his paper marked?
b.Did the instructor allow part marks and some interpretation in the marking of his paper?
c.Were the questions evaluated objectively? Were his responses congruent or incongruent with the questions asked?

Upon review of these parameters, the DRC found that the construction of the exam instrument and the marking thereof was objective and appropriate for the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg.
Why had Blair been replaced as chair of the appeals committee? Could it be that he wasn't toeing the party line to the satisfaction of his masters? But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Russell had at last revealed the Departmental Committees reasons for rejecting my appeal, and shockingly, they had made that decision without even reading the term paper (30% of the course grade) which was the subject of my appeal!

How were they going to talk their way out of that one?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Please Mark My Assignment Or Else

I told you how Professor Metz found my repeated requests to mark my last assignment to be so threatening he actually went to court to try and get a restraining order against me. The scary part was when I told the University that unless they complied with my request, I would be forced to "proceed accordingly". Well, I have now carried out my threat, in the form of an Application with the Court of Queen's Bench, which I have linked to here so you can read it. If you ever have a situation where a professor refuses to mark an assignment after you've handed it in, you might want to use my application as a template. (Or you might want to wait and see if I win my case before first.)

You'll notice in the Application that I undertake to provide an Affidavit to support my claim. It turns out the Affidavit is where all the fun starts. I hardly knew how many emails I had sent over the course of a year, simply asking for this and a handful of other assignments to be marked and returned to me. In the end I got back four of the five items I had been asking for, but Professor Metz decided to be a hardass on the last item. We'll see how that works out for him. If you'd like to go through the whole sordid tale blow by blow, you can read it all in my Affidavit.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Free. Free at last.

Legal aid Duty Counsel Jen Neufeld was as good as her word. On my ninth day of prison, and my third day in solitary, I was called out of my cell just minutes before court would recess for the week. Neufeld had brokered a deal with the Crown which would see me released from prison. I was forced to agree to stay of University property pending my trial, and given a list of University staff whom I was not to contact by any means. That list included: Neil BESNER, Sherman KREINER, Bill BALAN, Danny BLAU, Lloyd AXWORTHY, Laurel REPSKI, George BUSH, John ANCHAN, Ken MODUSKEY, Don METZ, Debora WOLOSHYN and Laurelyn CANTOR. Some of those names will be familiar to readers of this blog.

I don't know if anyone can really value their freedom until it has been taken away. Nine days may seem like a trivial matter, but the horrifying prospect of indefinite detention is not something to be taken lightly. Some people went out of their way to help me out a lot during this period of difficulty, and if I cannot pay them back directly, I hope I have the resolve to at least pay it forward by helping someone else out. That's why I have renewed my campaign to free Omar Khadr. You may see me giving out leaflets on the sidewalk in front of the U of W in the coming weeks. Under the Petty Trespassing Act, I am supposed to have the right to stand right in front of the outside doors giving out flyers; however, the present Court Order is much more restrictive, banning me from the property altogether. So for now I'm sticking to the public sidewalks.

In the meantime, an awful lot has happened since my story was interrupted. When we left off, I was telling you about my grade appeal in Professor Bush's course. That's taken an interesting twist: the University has openly admitted that they never even re-read the paper before ratifying the F that Prof. Bush had given me! More on that in coming posts. There was also the small matter of the assignment which Professor Metz had refused to mark. I had just told the University that in light of their stated refusal, I would be forced to "proceed accordintly". It seems that Prof. Metz found that "threat" to be so alarming that he made it the cause of an attempted restraining order against me! In fact, I have indeed proceeded accordingly, and I'll be telling you more in the weeks to come.

The big story is of course the University's motion for Summary Judgement on the claim of conspiracy to injure. The University filed its motion just in time to stop me from proceeding with my scheduled examination for discovery of former Academic VP John Corlett. That story continues to get interestinger and interestinger.

And that's about it for now. Oh case you were wondering, those "nice people" never did show up while I was in solitary to "figure out how to help me". I still have no idea what that was all about.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Alpha Ward, Headingley Jail

They were going to put me in a place where I would be safe, and then some nice people were going to come and talk to me and figure out how to help me. That's what they told me when they took me to Alpha Ward, Headingley's maximum security lock-up.

The first thing they did was taken away my gen-pop (general population) grays, and outfit me in fluorescent orange. Then they shackled me hand and foot and led me to the ward. My cell was actually a palace compared to Cellblock 8. I had a small table and almost ten feet to pace back and forth for 23 1/2  hours a day.

Meals were slid to me through a slot in the door. We didn't get anything that required plastic knives or forks, only a flat cardboard spoon like they used to give you with dixie cups, so the diet was somewhat limited, but otherwise passable. Of course there was no juice, which back in the cellblock you at least had theoretical access to, and which we actually got plenty of in remand. You had to wash your meal down with milk or water. In fact, everything seemed just a little more bland in solitary.

In Remand, whatever they gave you for breakfast, there was always toast and jam on the side; and enough of it so that you could put aside a slice or two for a snack in the evening. Here in isolation, there was also toast, or if not toast, then plenty of plain bread...but only one tiny jam container at breakfast time. So you could save your bread for later but there was nothing to sweeten it with. That was hard to take. All the more so because the evening were that much longer: supper in solitary was served at 3:30 pm!

I needed to wait two days before my phone access was approved, so in the meantime I couldn't phone home to tell anyone why I had stopped calling regularly. I finally got them to give me a lawyer call, for which they escorted me into the guard's office. After making my call, I asked the female guard to bring me some reading material "if you could". She didn't like that. "Don't you know how to say "please"? We base things on respect around here". I asked here if she didn't think "if you could" was the equivalent of "please", but she didn't think it was. 

I wanted something to read to pass the time, so eventually I asked here if she would "please" get me a book to read, and she did. I know I have a lot of "fans" reading this who are gloating right now at how I finally learned some "respect". Yes, that is the way they teach you things in prison. Obviously the "respect" all flows in the upward direction. The people behind bards obviously don't deserve to be respected, they only have to learn to give respect to their superiors.

While I was still in Remand, I had the chance to speak to the Duty Counsel (Legal Aid lawyer) about how I was going to get out of jail. I told you how I disputed the bail conditions and the judge ordered me held until trial. I actually had some inkling that it might be hard to turn this around, but I deliberately refrained from asking the duty counsel about this prior to making my argument...because I didn't want to chicken out. Now that the deed was done, I was finding out that it wasn't so easy to just go back and tell the judge you'd changed your mind. There was every prospect I could be in jail for months awaiting trial.

The duty counsel, Jen Neufeld, told me that my best chance was something called a "bail review". It wasn't a piece of cake. I would have to show either that conditions had changed since my original hearing, or that the judge has misapprehended the charges against me. I thought I actually had a shot at the latter. The Crown had laid charges of "forcible entry", and when the judge asked him what that referred to, he wasn't really sure. He seemed to think it was related to the alleged "home invasion" when I tried to serve papers on Professor Bush back in January. But when I got the charges, they were all related to the events of February 7th. So there did indeed appear to be some confusion as to what I was charged with.

But I couldn't even argue for my bail review until I got ahold of the transcripts of my original hearing,  and that was going to take at least a week. It would be quite awhile before I got out of jail.

That's when I got my phone call from Solitary and talked to Jen again. She had some very good news for me: it seems she had been thinking it over and figured out that maybe she could make a deal with the Crown for my early release. She had already spoken to him and he was going to get back to her. There was a chance after all that I might get out before the weekend.

In the meantime, I was still doing time.

My god I love George Jones! Here's another one: