Friday, August 30, 2013

In the Master's Chambers

It had been four weeks since Master Berthaudin had instructed opposing counsel to produce their affidavits, and I told you yesterday how I was baffled to receive, instead of the Affidavits on my Motion to Compel Answers...instead, they served me with their Answers to Interrogatories. I was very curious to get back in front of the Master and find out if I had misunderstood his order, or if the other side had somehow got it wrong.

So when I got to court I was dismayed to learn that we would be appearing before Master Sharpe, not Master Berthaudin. That's how the system works...you just go before a random Master each time, and the new Master has to read through the whole file to figure out what's happening. It can get confusing.

I got in a little trouble with the Master because I started off by trying to explain what had happened, but she didn't let me get very far. If you're a self-represented litigant, you really have to keep you place and only speak when spoken to. So I had to bite my tongue while she wagged her finger at me (figuratively speaking) and gave me a bit of a dressing down. But that's OK, because the other side was about to get their turn...

Master Sharpe had the Disposition Sheet in front of her, and although she noted that it was a little ambigous, she had little doubt that Berthaudin's intention had been for them to file Affidavits on the Motion. Now, it was becoming clear (to me at least) that opposing counsel had simply misunderstood. They thought when Berthaudin ordered them to produce affidavits, he was in effect deciding the motion in my favor. He wasn't. He was just allowing my motion to proceed to the next level. How were they going to explain that to Master Sharpe?

They didn't have to. Master Sharpe had by now provided them with her own alternative explanation: by submitting answers to my interrogatories, they were attempting to nullify my motion by making it moot, so I would have to withdraw it. Did I intended to withdraw the motion, she asked me? No, I started to explain, but again she cut me off. If I'm remembering correctly, she conveyed a degree of annoyance by my insistence on proceeding with the motion when they had already given me what I was asking for, but no matter. Their little gamble, as she called it, had failed: and now it was their turn to get a dressing down for not complying with Master Berthaudin's instructions.

Opposing counsel had been in this game longer than me, so they knew enough to keep their mouths shut and take their lumps. In any case, what could they do? It was no less embarrasing to admit that they had simply misunderstood Berthaudin's instructions than to go along with Master Sharpe's implication that they had tried to pull a fast one.

It was with some difficulty that I managed to eventually interject that although my opponents had supposedly answered the interrogatories, their answers were in fact completely vacuous: every question was answered by saying "not relevant", "confidential", or whatever. They had given me nothing, and I wanted to explain to the Master why I was still pressing the motion. But I could have saved my breath...she wasn't really interested. If I had a motion on the table, it was going ahead regardless of its merits. It was strictly business with her.

I have to say in retrospect that even Berthaudin had cut me off a little short the last time we were before him. The story is a little complicated. Opposing counsel had tried to argue that my Interrogatories were in any event out of order, and in many cases they would be declining to answer. ("Many" of course turned out to be 100%...but that's another story.) Berthaudin wasn't having any of that. He ordered Affidavits (there's that ambiguity again!), and asked how long they needed to prepare them. Based on their schoolteacher clients being on holidays, they asked for two months. Berthaudin wasn't impressed, and gave them four weeks. I tried to ask what their intentions were....on some motions, you need your clients to swear evidence, but the present question was of a procedural nature...what would the schoolteachers be swearing to? Berthaudin cut me off short, admonishing me that if my "questions" (implying interrogatories) were of a "legal nature", then my opponents would be quite correct in refusing to answer them. And in this way, he perhaps unwittingly re-inforced the perception that he was asking for Affidavits on Interrogatories, because I was talking about the "legal nature" of my Motion to Compel, not the "legal nature" of my Interrogatories.

You see, it's part of the culture of the system. The Master's are very abrupt and down-to-business. They don't allow time-wasting on side issues. But if they had taken the time to consider my question and take it seriously, they might have figured out that there was indeed an ambiguity being carried out of the chambers, and they could have resolved it a lot more easily by just listening to what I was trying to ask. I'm just saying...

There's one more thing. There are exactly four Masters in the Queen's Bench, and litigants appear before them over and over. You get a reputation. I don't want to get a reputation of wasting the court's time with unnecessary procedures and time-wasting questions. So it was important for me to make the point that I had good reason to press my motion forward. I don't know if I accomplished that. But no matter. At least, at the end of the day, I had got all the outcomes that I could have expected. Three items had been brought before the Master:

1. The Schoolteachers were given just under two weeks to produce their Affidavits, which they still claimed to want. (By now Ms. Mulholland on behalf of the professors had come around to my way of thinking....she told the Master that she wouldn't be asking her clients for affidavits, for just the reasons I had previously tried to argue.) We already had an appearance scheduled appearance on the schoolteachers Motion for Summary on the 10th of September, so his affidavits would be due on that day. My motion was going forward.

2. Unless the Master decided in the meantime that the Professor's Motion to Stay would take precedence. But that was itself moving through the steps. They had filed their affidavits, and it was my turn. I told the Master I could also be ready by the 10th, which would save opposing counsel  an extra trip to the Law Courts building. And so it was set down. I also expressed the intention to cross-examine Colin Russell of the University on his  affriavit that had already been filed in this matter. The Master told me I should make arrangments with Ms. Mulholland for that as soon as my affidavit was in. Later I'll tell you why I intend to cross-examine...but that's another story. In the meantime, my Motion to Compel and their Motion to Stay were both moving forward in parallel.

3.  Back in January when the University moved for Summary, I had a motion for Exclusion of Parties (on Discovery) which had been put on hold. I was now asking for it to be put back on the table. the Master asked if all the briefs and Affidavits had been filed. Yes, I told her, we were ready to argue it. But Ms. Mulholland wasn't so sure. Actually, she had joined Mr. Meronek as his co-counsel a bit later in the game, so I'm not sure if she was around for that. In any event, the Master asked her to confirm the status before our next appearance. So this was on hold again, this time til September 10th. That didn't hurt me either, because I was starting to find my hands getting a little full.

There was in fact a fourth item which I had asked for. I had put in a requisition to schedule an appearance before Master Berthaudin on the matter of Costs (which had been awarded to me on the Summary Judgement motion). I showed Master Sharpe the Requisition which I had filed, and she told me (quite abruptly) that I had done it wrong, that it wasn't done that way, that I had to phone for an appointment. She told me to call Sandra Bourne and set something up. So we'll see what happens there...


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Going to Court Tomorrow Morning

Summertime is supposed to be a quiet time for civil litigation, but I think it's pretty fair to say that as between me and the university, all hell has broken loose since the end of June. It started when Master Berthaudin ruled in my favor on the University's motion for summary judgement. The University announced it would appeal, and scheduled an appearance before the Master on September 3rd. That's not the date when you argue  the motion...it's just a preliminary appearance. The idea was that nothing would happen for two months. At least that was their idea.

I had the idea that since I won the motion, I could move ahead with my case. A lot of things had been put on hold since they filed their motion back in January, and I wanted them back on track. And according to my reading of the Queen's Bench rules, the losing party is not, in general, entitled to an automatic stay of proceedings just because they're appealing the decision.

So I started writing letters to opposing counsel, listing one by one the things that I wanted to proceed with, and asking their position. I got no responses....except, that is, for the schoolteachers, who had been promising since last January that they were going to respond to the interrogatories I had filed in November. Remember, they had chosen not to participate in the Univeristy's Motion for Summary, so in theory the case against them was still on. And they kept saying they were working on their responses to the interrogatories, they just needed more time. Well, they had had a change of heart. No, they weren't going to respond to the interrogatories. They were going to file their own Motion for Summary Judgement.

No word on why they hadn't joined with the professors on the earlier motion, or why they'd waited until now to announce their intentions. Of course, no explanation was necessary...it was obvious that the whole thing was planned for the purposes of getting the maximum delay, to avoid having to go to trial on the issues. We'll see how that works out.

Having gotten no responses to my inquiries as to moving forward, I started to take the initiative. The first thing I did was to approach John Corlett, the ex-VP of the U whom I had tried to examine for discovery back in January, but was interrupted by the University's Motion for Summary. Since then Corlett had left the U and taken a job at Grant McEwen in Edmonton. I already told you how Mr. Meronek blew his stack when he found out I was contacting Corlett directly.

So then I decided, why not call someone closer to home for examination. Actually, I took my cue from Mr. Meronek. In one of his letters to me, he had written
 " We will oppose any attempt to have John Corlett examined. He is no longer associated with the U of Winnipeg & there are other current employees who have the requisite knowledge."
Well, why not? So I wrote Mr. Meronek asking if he could make Ken McCluskey, the Dean of Education, available sometime in August. Mr. Meronek did not respond. So I did what I had to do: I served him with a Notice of Examination for the 27th of August.

Meanwhile, the interrogatories were sitting there unanswered. I was entitled to have those answers in my hands before going into oral discovery, so I filed a motion asking the Master to order the opposing parites, both the professors and the schoolteachers, to answer the interrogatories. We went to court on July 30th for a preliminary hearing. The professors argued that their appeal of the Master's decision entitled them to decline to answer the interrogatories. The schoolteachers argued that their intention to file a Motion for Summary Judgement entitled them to the same. The Master did not agree. (Since then, the Schoolteachers have indeed filed, and we're down for our preliminary appearance on September 10th.)

And here's where it gets a little confusing. Both those parties were appeared to be arguing that my motion had no merit and should not be allowed to proceed. The Master did not agree. Now, I had already filed the motion and my affidavit. So it was their turn...if they were going to oppose the motion, they were entitled to file affidavits. How long would they need, the judge asked them.

Both sides pleaded the difficulties of getting anything done in the summer. The Master was not overly impressed, but he gave them until August 29th. On that date we would come back before him, and then it would be my turn to file my Motions Brief.

Or would it??? Yesterday I got the affidavits from both the professors and the schoolteachers, and they were not what I was expecting. But we'll come back to that later....

In the meantime, I had another matter sitting in limbo that I wanted to move ahead with. That was my Motion for Exclusion of Parties, which I had filed way back when, and which had also been put on hold since January. Now, so far I've told you about the Discovery of Ken McCluskey, which I initiated by serving a Notice of Examination. Then I told you about my Motion to Compel Answers, which I intiated by filing a Motion. What about my Motion for Exclusion? To get that back on the table, I submitted a Requisition. That's a very simple process that just gets you in front of the Master. I set it for July 30th, the same day as my Motion to Compel.

That was kind of a favor to the other parties. It doesn't hurt me to go to court over and over, since I don't have a job. But it costs the other side legal fees. So I put both my requests down for the same hearing.

I'm not sure it was a good idea. It seemed to complicate things. After going through the whole rigamarole over the Motion, the Master looked at my Requisition and said, well, there are a lot of other motions pending now so why don't we put this off until August 29th when we come back? So don't quite know where I stand there....except the other parties got a free month.

Not that I couldn't use the break either. I also had my criminal trial pending, for September 3rd. And what should have been a fairly simple process of calling witnesses turned into a huge pissing match between myself and Mr. Meronek which ended, as I told you earlier, in total capitulation on his part. I got my subpoenas, and Mr. Meronek had to deliver them.

So finally on Monday I got the Affidavits I had been waiting for...you know, on my Motion to Compel Answers. I don't know if you can imagine my surprise when I opened them up and found them to be....Affidavits of Answers to Interrogatories! The professors had answered my Interrogatories after all...and later that day the schoolteachers followed suit. What was happening?

I'm still not quite sure, but I have a theory. When the Master told them they had four weeks to file their affidavits, maybe he meant their Affidavits on Interrogatories, not their Affidavits on the Motion to Compel. In other words...I had already won my motion! The Master had ruled in my favor with me even knowing it.

Or maybe the Master meant they should file their Affidavits on the Motion, and opposing counsel misunderstood and thought he was ordering them to respond with Affidavits to my interrogatories. I still don't know exactly what happened. Maybe I'll find out tomorrow.

But it gets trickier and trickier. Yes, the other side had responded to my Interrogatories. But it was a peculiar type of response. To every question, they had put down: "refuse to answer on the grounds of confidentiality" or "refuse to answer on the grounds of relevancy" or something equivalent. I think there was one question that Principal Skull actually answered...her answer was "I don't know".

Perhaps my opponents thought they were being clever...if the Master wanted them to answer the interrogatories....well, here are the answers. We'll see how that works out for them.

But there's more. Along with the Answers to Interrogatories, Mr Meronek had filed (on behalf of the professors) a Motion for a Stay of Proceedings. He had belatedly realized that he simply wasn't going to get his stay unless he made a motion to that effect. And there it was, scheduled for the 29th, tomorrow morning, the same day we're also speaking to my Motion to Compel (unless I've already won it) and my Requisition to continue with my Motion on Exclusion of Parties. So there are three things on the table for tomorrow morning.

So then I thought, why not go for four? The Master had ordered costs in my favor on the Summary Judgement, with the pithy remark, "if costs cannot be agreed, an appointment may be made to address that issue". Well, I almost have to think he was engaging in a little bit of judicial humor here: how in the world were we going to agree to costs, when we hadn't agreed to anything else yet? In fact, I had made a couple of approaches to the other side attempting to discuss the issue, with no response. So I filed a Bill of Costs, and put in a requisition to appear before the Master tomorrow morning to make an appointment to resolve the issue.

Oh, I forgot...what about my Examination of Ken McCluskey, which took place this morning? Actually, it didn't. I had finally heard back from Mr. Meronek last Friday, informing me that he had no intention of presenting Mr. McCluskey for examination. Instead he was going to file a Motion for a Stay of Proceedings, which I would be receiving later that day, or Monday at the latest. Well, I didn't see how his intention to file a motion entitled him to blow off discovery, and I told him so Tuesday morning when I still hadn't received his motion. (It came later that afternoon). Well, I went ahead with the discovery (with an empty chair) and asked the Court Reporter to make out a Certificate of Non-Attendance. Well see if the Judge things Mr. Meronek was entitled to stay home or not.

So what is there now still on the table...Motion to Compel, Motion for Exclusion, Costs on the Summary Judgement, Motion to Stay (professors), new Motion for Summary (schoolteachers), Appeal on Summary (professors) Motion (pending) for Non-Attendance at Discovery...have I forgotten anything? (Not counting my Claim for Defamation against Professor Bush and his wife for accusing me of Home Invasion. But that's another story. Not to mention my Application for a Grade in Professor Metz's course.) Well, I guess we'll see how all that works out. Oh yeah....And don't forget my criminal trial coming up on Tuesday morning....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Goodbye Miss Anonymous

I don't think I'm going to be hearing from Miss Anonymous any more.

Miss Anonymous had been following this blog quite religiously for some time before she was finally moved to weigh in on the discussion just five days ago. What motivated her to jump into the fray? It was nothing I said...it was a letter from one of my online supporters (we'll call him PhDGuy, encouraging me to keep up the fight and saying that my story should be made into a movie. This was too much for Miss Anonymous, and here is what she wrote:
Yeah! I'd really be interested to see the part where he laid hands on his students and was disciplined for doing so.

Before being so quick to idolize this man, perhaps you ought to acquaint yourself with the grossly unprofessional conduct he is accused of. Whether or not the university has mucked up the due process he was entitled to doesn't excuse the purported reasons for his removal in the first place.

Regardless of the outcome, I would neither be comfortable with this man teaching children of any age or level of ability, nor with working with this man as a colleague.
PhDGuy wrote back, saying that if you read my whole blog, I had obviously been screwed by the system. To which Miss Anonymous agreed, saying "I'm not saying he wasn't". Her real concern, so she claimed, my suitability to be certified as a teacher. Regardless of whether the U of W had "mucked up" my due process, she continued she would be highly uncomfortable knowing that someone could be certified as a teacher when that person had been accused of being
unwilling to be receptive to students, to follow established curricula, and to be a cooperative member of a collaborative team within an established hierarchy
...even though, as she went on to say, those complaints had not yet stood up to scrutiny!

Remember, in her original post, she expressed outrage at my manhandling of students and "grossly unprofessional behavior"...writing in a tone of voice which suggested that as an insider, she had some special knowledge to horrible to repeat in detail, but which was disturbing enough to override any right to due process that I might otherwise have claimed. And now here she is, after being called upon to justify herself, saying that I deserved to be kicked out of the program because I wasn't a team player.

I was pretty sure by now that Miss Anonymous was one of my former classmates, and she confirmed in the next day when PhDGuy wrote back again in support of my fight, and she took him to task for expressing an opinion when he "wasn't even in the same classes" (as she was with me).

Now, over the year or so that I've been doing this blog, I've gotten pretty used to people posting ignorant and vitriolic diatribes against me, and I'm not all that motivated to argue with them. But the little side-show going on between Miss Anonymous and PhDGuy made me long for the days when I used to spar with another one-time adversary of mine, who posted under the pseudonym Miss Redboots. So I posted a blog about her, pointing out what I thought was the fundamental flaw in her position: that ultimately, she found nothing objectionable about the fact that a professor would report me to the Dean for something I wrote on an essay. And this prompted a fresh response from Miss Anonymous (which you can read under the same link. The chain of events is a little confused because PhDGuy was also posting under the acronym "Anonymous", and then a third Anonymous joined in as well...she was the first responder to my article on Ms. Redboots. But you'll figure it out...)

Miss Anonymous wrote a lengthy post in three parts where she claimed it was not me she was against, but just the idea that a third party would conclude from reading my blog that I was some kind of hero. As for me, she had in no way intended her comments to be taken as a personal attack...on the contrary, she had enjoyed being able to take part in class discussions with  me, she had found the occasions on which we worked together to be "great learning experiences", and she respected and admired me as a scholar and former classmate. As for my removal from the program,
 Please do not misinterpret my opinion of *you*, Marty. Claiming that the statements brought to bear against you suggest something lacking in the ability to be a "professional" teacher (at least according to the boundaries of professional conduct set forth in Manitoba) is neither intended as a criticism or as a personal attack. There are some definite requirements with respect to working with children (even adolescents bordering on the age of majority) that not everyone has (not even some certified teachers).

I have to say I found her protestations of innocence to be out of synch with the vitriolic tone of her original comments, which I quoted above; but never mind. If she wanted to be friends, that was great. I was especially interested in some things she had recalled about a particular in-class project which we had done together. So I wrote a follow-up post about the day we made Concept Maps, hoping she would follow up with her own recollections. Which she did.

Miss Anonymous remembered the bare facts in very much the same way as I did, but our interpretations were widely divergent. She found that my retelling of the story betrayed certain character flaws which were material to my ultimate suitability as a teacher; in particular, she objected to my jumping to conclusions about classmates and their attitudes towards me, including one in particular, whom for the sake of convenience we were both referring to as "Moonface". (Actually, I don't know why she wouldn't remind me of his name, which I had forgotten. We had explicitly identified him in any case.) She concluded her feedback by sniffing that
 ....in any case, this entire discussion is quite out of step with the rest of your blog. Aside from the fact that it is based entirely on opinion and speculation about who thought what about whom. It seems to be rife with generalizations, and it does nothing to the standing of your legal case against the university.
But I was enjoying the discussion! And I had another Moonface story that I was dying to tell. So since it was my blog, that's just what I did.

It wasn't long before I heard back from Miss Anonymous. Again, the broad factual details of what took place were not in dispute. But as I read through her lengthy response, it became more and more clear that she was looking for every possible nuance, every dramatic excess or expression of opinion in my re-telling of the story, as one more reason to justify the fact that I had been kicked out of the program. Even though the story I told had been rather innocent, and certainly not something that anyone had complained about or written me up for.

So I asked her: since she had confirmed my version of events with Moonface, what did he think? Did he agree with her that I should have been kicked out of the program?

He did not. That is, he didn't thing I should have been kicked out of the practicum, which is the way Miss Anonymous conveyed the question to him. He thought I should have at the very least been given the benefit of the review process in the Student Practicum Handbook. Or, as Miss Anonymous added, "That makes one of us". Which I understood as her backhanded way of saying she thought I had gotten all the due process I deserved in terms of the practicum.

But that wasn't my question. Neither Miss Anonymous nor Moonface were direct witnesses to anything I had done at Gordon Bell. I wanted to know if she thought I should have been kicked out based on what she had actually seen of me. Especially in light of the warm feelings she had expressed on the previous day. What of the horrific behavior that she surely must have witnessed based on the Registrar's letter which I posted on line here: the rudeness and disruptiveness, the insulting of an ESL interpreter who had been invited as a guest, and the time I made a girl cry. What about all that? So I asked her flat out: What did you actually see me do that justified kicking me out of University?

To her credit, Miss Anonymous allowed that Moonface himself had personally seen no reason for me  to be expelled. She quotes him as saying "No, I don't think his behavior, from what I saw, justified being withdrawn from the program, either. I don't see an issue with being vocal about your opinion, as long as it isn't malicious... and I never really saw him as that."

But as for her, she remained adamant! As for as the specific outrages I was accused of, Miss Anonymous had no comment...which under the circumstances, I take as a pretty clear indication that never saw anything like what I was accused of in the Registrar's letter. But even though she hadn't personally seen me do anything overtly wrong, it was still plain to her that I was unfit to be a teacher just because of my basic personality. Or, as she wrote:

For me, personally? Seeing the way you react to conflict - like this - states more than enough about your suitability....The incidents you list, in and of themselves, perhaps raise an eyebrow, but for me, it's in how you've responded to the allegations - by going up in arms.
So according to her, those people (including herself) who created and supported the false and malicious accusations about me are worthy of functioning as role models for our children, but because I responded to those lies by fighting back, I am unfit.

Now, as much as I enjoyed our brief five-day relationship, I'm guessing that after today's post, Miss Anonymous is not going to be responding any further to what she reads in this blog. So I'm going to bid her a fond farewell. But in the meantime, she's got me reminiscing about some in-class experiences that I think might be of interest to my readers, as well as shedding some light as to the nature of the education system and the teacher training program. So stay tuned for some more stories...
 




 



Saturday, August 24, 2013

About Me and Moonface

Miss Anonymous has gotten me reminiscing about my days as an Education student, and it's kind of fun. She brought up a small incident in class where we made "concept charts", and I went off on my own instead of sticking with the group. It's funny that people talked about that afterwards. It was a very small incident, not something involving any conflict, but its something Miss Anonymous remembers coming up in discussions after my classmates found out I "wouldn't be returning".

Although we tell the story from very different perspectives, her version backs up mine its most important aspects. In my version, I say that the thing I found most disturbing was the way the whole excercise, whether by overt design or merely by subliminal groupthink, was directed towards fostering uniformity of thought. Miss Anonymous confirms this in several subtle ways. She recalls that many of the maps produced by the various groups were "...similar."  (emphasis on the three dots.) And she confirms by omission that Professor Bush pointedly removed my map from the discussion. And she validates my observation about the huge social forces tending to enforce uniformity of thought within the program when she expressing genuine shock that in second year, some students actually managed to "find their own direction" without being penalized for it!

And yet she still clings to the conclusion that I simply misunderstood the good intentions of my classmates towards me, thereby (by implication) ultimately being responsible for my own alienation from the group. She gives no overt examples of hostility on my part towards my classmates; quite the contrary. But her overriding perspective is that my removal from the program was ultimately justified because  of my "apparent discomfort in being subordinate to other teachers or to the administration". (She even quotes herself twice on this.) In other words, the social tendencies I displayed in this little in-class excercise, where I was uncomfortable being pressured (by Moonface) to go along with the ideas being pushed by my "superiors" (Professor Bush!)...those are the things that ultimately made me unsuitable for the teaching profession. She further professes bafflement as to why I identified this little incident as a "microcosm" of the things wrong with the Education program.

By the way, I don't really have anything against Moonface. I said the other day that he didn't like me very much...I think this is fair comment. It wasn't so much a matter of dislike as a total mismatch of worldviews. It's like I said...after I presented my ideas on what I though about the concept map, he just looked at me with slack-jawed bafflement, and then proceeded to do what he was going to do as though I didn't even register on him. What I didn't know then, and only learned yesterday from Miss Anonymous, was that Moonface privately thought the whole assignment was a pointless waste of time. But that wasn't going to stop him from taking charge of the group and making sure the prof got exactly what he wanted!

Anyhow, this wasn't the only occasion where Moonface took it upon himself to side with Professor Bush against me. I wonder if Miss Anonymous remember the day we spent a whole class analyzing a Calvin and Hobbes strip. This was another one where people probably thought it was a waste of time, although no one would stand up and say so. In fact, I thought it was a very good educational exercise (as was the concept chart)...except like the concept chart, it too was turned into something pointless by the pedagogical incompetence of Professor Bush.

The theme of the exercise was "put-downs". The idea was that this particular strip was supposed to teach us something about the deleterious effect of put-downs on personal interactions. It starts with Calvin all upset because the teacher has assigned him to work on a group project with Suzy, his goody-goody arch-nemesis. Suzy retorts something to the effect of "how do you think I feel, having to work with a useless good-for-nothing like you?" And then they try to work together, but everything deteriorates into mutual recriminations as Calvin does everything he can to make a mockery of the project.

Professor Bush asked us to start off by counting how may "put-downs" we could identify in the whole comic strip. We broke up into groups, and everyone started...counting. That's all we did! I tried to get a discussion going about what was the point of the strip, but as usual, I got nothing but blank stares.

Then Professor Bush went around from group to group, asking how many putdowns we had found. This group found 17, that group found 23, and so forth. Moonface proudly reported that his group had found fifty-seven! I couldn't help thinking he would have been great on one of Stalin's five-year plans. A real hero of the proletariat. But now I'm being petty...back to the story.

It was near the end of the class, and the prof finally got around to asking what we thought of the story: in particular, who was responsible...Calvin of Suzy...for the collapse of the joint enterprise, the history project. Of course, the obvious answer was Calvin; but with a little guidance from Professor Bush, the class came to the conclusion that both Calvin and Suzy were responsible...Calvin for his obvious craziness, but also Suzy for her unwillingness to harness Calvin's creative energy in positive ways. A happy conclusion.

I had kept my mouth shut until the very end of class because I wanted to see if anyone else had seen what I saw, but in the end no one had. So I spoke up. First I asked how many people thought Calvin was to blame. A few hand went up. Then I asked how many blamed both of them. The great majority of the class. And then I asked...who thinks Suzy was to blame? No one. And then I pointed out: who made the first put-down? It was Suzy!

I was immediately drowned out by voices telling me I was obviously wrong, that it was Calvin who came in all upset at being assigned to work with Suzy. Yes, I managed to make myself heard, Calvin didn't want to work with Suzy. But his rant to that effect contained no specific put-down...just a sense of exasperation that the two of them were incompatible. (Calvin's words were of course more colorful than that, but a careful reading showed that I was right. It was Suzy who started with the put-downs, after which Calvin enthusiastically joined in.)

"It doesn't matter! It's exactly the same as a put-down because he was upset at working with her!" Moonface had suddenly taken control of the floor and declared my position to be invalid. Professor Bush abruptly declared the debate to be over and class broke up.

In retrospect, I have to believe that Professor Bush had completely botched the lesson, just as he botched the concept map lesson by turning it into an exercise in groupthink. I found out later that using Calvin and Hobbes wasn't his idea...that cartoonist Bill Watterson had actually published a book of cartoons to be used for pedagogical exercises, and this was one of them. Surely then, the them of "put-downs" was not something that Professor Bush came up with on his own, but something that he had gotten from the book. That being the case, my interpretation was surely the right one...that despite Calvin's obvious misbehavior in sabotaging the project, we really should have looked at who made the first put-down...namely, Suzy. And yet this seems to have gone right over everyone's head.

It's too bad my classmates, including Anonymous, didn't pick up on this not-so-subtle point. Because on numerous occasions, they accused me of disrespectful behavior towards Professor Bush (and other profs) when I was simply responding (and quite reasonably, I should stipulate) to a completely unjustified put-downs on their part. What else was Miss Anonymous was talking about when she criticized me for being unwilling to show deference to my superiors, and cited that characteristic as justification for me being kicked out of school.

I wonder if she remembers this story differently than I do. In other words, was there one single incident or unpleasant confrontation where she can honestly say that I was the one who "started it"?



Friday, August 23, 2013

A Day In the Faculty of Education

It seems I made a new friend yesterday, who calls herself "Anonymous". She was a classmate of mine who has apparently been following this blog for quite some time, but wasn't moved to post any feedback until a couple of days ago. One thing led to another, and we got into quite a discussion over various things, in the course of which she recalled a group project we had worked on together. It got me thinking, so I thought I'd write about it. And I'm wondering if Anonymous remembers it the same way as I do.

It was maybe the second week of classes, and Professor Bush was teaching "Philosphy of Science Teaching". He began by asking, "what do you think of when you think of science?". He talked about the three pillars of science as being: experiment, hypothesis, and data. Or something like that...I don't remember exactly. But that's not the point. What he wanted us to do was to break into small groups and create "concept charts"...those are those balloon-maps with all different ideas, showing linkages between closely-related concepts. Professor Bush's concept map for "what is science" started off looking something like this:


And from there it would branch off into who knows what...that was up to us. He explained that we should think of it as though inside our brain, we had little groups of neurons representing these concepts, and as we learned more about science, more bundles of neurons got linked together, and that's what the map represented in a conceptual way. I may be paraphrasing here, but I think that was the drift of it. It sounded like fun.

You have to understand that we were immediately broken up into small groups, provided with boxes of colored markers,  and given about ten minutes to fill up a big sheet of flip-chart paper. I was in a group of three...myself, my friend Anonymous, and a guy I'll call "Moonface" (no disrepect intended). I wrote yesterday that I recalled him as one of the most capable and intelligent of my classmates, but very much a "team player"...which is to say, someone who follows the lead of the established heirarchy. Moonface immediately took charge and laid out the framework of "experiment, hypothesis and data".  We just had to fill in more concepts.

I told the group I didn't think that the idea of the project was to follow Professor Bush's outline. That's what science looked like inside his brain. The idea was that we were supposed to consider what science looked like inside our brains. Then when we compared our results to everyone elses, it would be interesting to see how different we all were.

When I was done, Moonface and Anonymous were looking at me with expressions of slack-jawed incomprehension, like I had come from another planet. After about two seconds of silence, Moonface said to Anonymous: Okay, what goes under "hypothesis"? And they got back to work. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but that was the general drift. In particular, it was clear to me that for my group partners, or at least Moonface, the point of an assignment was to give the professor exactly what he wanted. And going off on in our own direction, like I wanted to do, was the mark of a troublemaker.

I didn't want to get into an argument with them, so I might have gone along. But but by now I was really pretty interested in finding out what "science" looked like inside my own brain...and conversely, I had no interest whatsoever in trying to guess what Professor Bush wanted. I was going to draw my own concept map. So I grabbed a sheet of flip-chart paper and found a spare table. What I drew started off something like this:


I filled it in with more an more linkages to things like metallurgy, the telescope, the theory of gravity, agriculture, geometry, etc. and all kinds of cross-linkages.  It was fun. Pretty soon the class ended and Professor Bush told us to pin up our charts all around the classroom. We would talk about them when we came back the next day.

I have to say I really thought that Moonface was wrong in thinking that Professor Bush wanted us all to regurgitate exactly his own idea of "what is science". I honestly thought we were supposed to be innovative and try to do things differently. So when we came back to class the next day, I was a little taken aback to see that all the charts were still pinned up to the classroom walls...except mine.

Then Professor Bush went around the class, commenting favorably on everyone's efforts...all of which were structured on his own three pillars: data, experiment, and hypothesis! No mention was made of my chart...well, that's not quite so. Professor Bush had marked the projects...it wasn't a mark that really counted, he explained...of the 10% of the course credit allocated to in-class participation, this assignment would be one point. So it was just a token mark to acknowledge our participation; and pretty much everyone had been given 3 out of 3. "Unless, of course, you did something obviously wrong, like only using one color of marker when you had a whole box of different colors to choose from..." That was me!

I didn't open my mouth to complain or argue. I was there to get my certificate, and I really didn't need Professor Bush or anyone else to give me their approval. But at the same time, there was something very disturbing about the uniformity of thought that was being fostered, both from the professor's side and on the part of my classmates. If this was how they were treated, and how they were expected to respond, what would happen when they became teachers? They would surely have been conditioned to believe that a good student was one who gave them exactly what they wanted to hear, and if a student tried to go his own way and do things differently, he was probably a troublemaker. Like that Marty Green, the guy they had to kick out of school...

         *         *        *       *       *       *


A couple of weeks later, Professor Bush casually approached me after class with a rolled-up sheet of paper in his hand and asked if it was mine. Yes, it was my concept chart. Apparently it had gone "astray" and he had found it somewhere, and just wanted to return it to me. Since I hadn't put my name on it, he wasn't sure. I noticed that he had given me a grade of 2 out of 3.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

In Which I Reply to Ms. Redboots

My recent posts have drawn a bit of flack from some of my detractors, including the ubiquitous Anonymous. I have to say it I don't have much interest in engaging in a battle of "wits" with people of that level, and I actually miss the days when I used to spar with the most intellegent of my opponents, who goes by the name of Ms. Redboots.

I think the first time she got into the fray was when I was writing about how one of my professors, Lauralyn Cantor, had reported me to the Dean for making critical comments about another professor in an essay. Ms. Redboots was not sympathetic. She wrote:
Went back and read the linked article & the linked essay. Let's see-- as far as I can make out, you wanted the UofW to give you a teachers' certificate. You then proceeded to piss off most of your professors, write an essay for a course that was supposed to consist of self-reflection & instead took pot-shots at the assignment itself, the provincial math curriculum, another professor, and (for good measure)the president of the university-- and excused yourself by citing your ethnic connection with an iconoclast. Full marks for chutzpah; but no surprise that you were turfed from the course!
I've read this over a few times and I still can't get over it: she's "not surprised" that I got kicked out of the program for things that I wrote in an essay.

Shouldn't that bother her? Apparently not. These days it seems that people like Ms. Redboots take it for granted that to get through a professional program, you're supposed to curry favor with your professors by telling them what they want to hear. And they don't find anything wrong with that.

I remember when my son went to university a few years ago, and he complained that he had to write an essay where the professor expected him to say such-and-such. I told him he should write whatever he believed, and the professor would mark him on the quality of his arguments, regardless of whether she agreed with his opinion. My son didn't believe me...he said he would get a low mark if he didn't say what she wanted him to hear. I told him he was being ridiculous...that it didn't work that way.

Apparently it does.

If Ms. Redboots thinks that I was naive in thinking that I could get away with standing up for my beliefs, she may have a point. But I cannot see why she chooses to gloat over the fact that I was kicked out of school for doing so. It is people like her, and others who acquiesce to this kind of thing even though they should know better, who are as guilty as the professors in what happened to me.





 



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Which Darcy and Deacon Back Down

When we left off the other day, I had just got subpoenas so I could call as witnesses in my criminal trial the professors who accused me of carrying out a home invasion. The judge had further ordered, to my surprise, that I should serve the subpoenas on Mr. Meronek of Darcy and Deacon, rather than hiring a process server. Since this would save me at least $300 in fees, I was glad to accept this.

And then Mr. Meronek refused to accept the subpoenas!

I exchanged several emails with him in which I encouraged him to confer with the Crown's office and inform himself as to what the judge had ordered, but it is not at all clear to me that Mr. Meronek made any efforts in that direction. He seemed to maintain a steadfast position that he had nothing to do with the criminal trials, and that I should hire a process server. (In contradiction to the specific instructions I had received from Judge Guy, of course.)

So with nothing left to do, I went down to Provincial Court and filed another application. This one was pretty simple: I asked the Judge to instruct Mr. Meronek to accecpt the subpoenas. I filed it on Thursday with the court, and on Friday morning I went to Mr. Meronek's office to serve him with a copy.

He wouldn't come out of his office! His assistant came to the front desk and told me that Mr. Meronek was not interested in my motion because he had nothing to do with my criminal case, and he was not accepting service. I told her that since the motion was in her hands, I was going to consider it as "served", and Mr. Meronek could decide whether or not he wanted to show up in court. And then I left.

Well, they must have reconsidered their position, because before the end of the day I received an email from Lindsay Mulholland, Mr. Meronek's associate, to the effect that although Mr. Meronek would in fact be out of town on the day of my hearing, she would be there to represent him. She further informed me that they would be resisting my attempt to serve the subpoenas through their office. So the battle lines were drawn.

I have to say I was pretty baffled by their position. I had a court order in my hands stating that I should serve the subpoenas on their firm. And it's not like doing so would have been any hardship for them. They were dealing with these people on a regular basis, and incidentally getting paid a pretty good hourly rate (I would assume) for their involvement in affairs pertaining to Marty Green. And although I had always been treated with the greatest of courtesy by Ms. Mulholland, it was at the same time pretty clear that Mr. Meronek for his part did not like me at all, not one little bit. So I could understand that he didn't want to help me out by serving my subpoenas. But on what basis did he intend to fight it out in court?

Well, I don't know exactly what happened between yesterday and today, but at the very end of the day I received the following email from Ms. Mulholland, with a copy to the Crown Prosecutor:

Mr. Green / Mr. Grieves,

Please be advised that we are prepared to accept service of your subpoenas on behalf of the University of Winnipeg and associated parties. I believe this eliminates the need for the Application hearing scheduled for this Thursday at 2pm.

Apologies to both of you for any inconvenience.

Mr. Green please advise when you would like to effect service at the offices of D'Arcy and Deacon so I can ensure availability.

Please contact me with any questions or comments.

Lindsay M Mulholland

It seems I had won this round. But it's not over yet. The real fun starts when we show up in court on September 3rd for my criminal trial. That is, if the University's witnesses have the guts to show up...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Countdown to Criminal Trial

While I keep the pot simmering on the civil cases, the criminal charges against me are looming. In theory I go to trial at 10:00 am on September 3rd in Rm 403 of the Law Courts Building for charges arising from my "forcible entry", "mischief", and "trespassing" commited at the U of W on February 7th of this year.  (You can read about those events in a series of blogposts starting here.) Criminal trials are open to the public, so feel free to attend and watch me defend myself.

Trespassing on quasi-public property is a problematical charge. Under the Petty Trespassing Act, a property owner has the right to order you off the property without giving any reasons. In theory, this applies to private homeowners, storekeepers, shopping mall owners, and quasi-public corporations such as the Univeristy of Winnipeg. But according to my research, the courts have been reluctant to apply trespassing laws against people charged with being in an area to which the general public is normally allowed unrestricted access, unless it can be shown that the property owner had some legitimate reason for asking the "trespasser" to leave. That's going to be the basis of my defence.

The University issued its Trespassing Notice against me on the evening of January 11th, 2013, after it was  reported that I had tried to force my way into the home of one of my former instructors. I'm going to argue that those reports were the reason for the trespassing order, and that I should therefore be allowed to introduce evidence into the events of that evening. Accordingly, I went to the Provincial Court three weeks ago and asked the Justice to swear out subpoenas on various U of W employees who had been involved in discussions leading up to the issuance of the trespassing order.

The Justice on duty wouldn't give me the subpoenas. She said she could only give me subpoenas against witnesses to the actual trespassing, which took place a month later. I didn't agree with her, so I wrote up an Application to appear before a Provincial Court Judge and ask for the subpoenas. In my Application, I argued pretty much what I have said in the previous paragraph: that no one gets convicted under the PTA for trespassing on quasi-public property unless there is some justification beyond "we told you you weren't welcome here".

The Judge agreed with me. Actually, even the Crown agreed with me. They said they wouldn't oppose my application for subpoenas, and furthermore, they said they had conferred with the U of W and they wanted me to serve the subpoenas directly on the Univerity's lawyer, Brian Meronek. And the Judge agreed.

I could hardly believe it. I said to the judge, "It sounds like you just saved me $300 in Process Server fees." The Judge agreed that it was so. Ordinarily, in criminal cases, the defendant has to hire private process servers to deliver his subpoenas. For whatever reason, I was being given a free pass on that.

I left the courtroom ecstatic. I got my subpoenas the next morning, and went straight to Mr. Meronek's office to serve them. He wasn't in; that's OK, he would be back the next week, so I could serve him then.
I sent him an email and left him a phone message.

When I heard back from Mr. Meronek on Tuesday morning, he told me he knew nothing about any subpoenas. I explained what had happened in court, and told him I would give him the contact information for the Crown Attorney so he could find out exactly what the judge had said. I suggested that if he did not want to deal with the subpoenas, perhaps Colin Morrison, the University's in-house lawyer, would be willing to do so.

Here is a copy of Mr. Meronek's response to me:

Marty;
   As indicated to you, I do not represent any individuals you wish to serve in your criminal matter. I only represent them in the civil matters you have brought against the University & its representatives. Accordingly, I have no instructions to accept service on their behalf. I suspect that the indication on record concerning my accepting service of documents was predicated on the University & myself wanting to  make certain that, any in any civil matters , I was the person to be served on their behalf. It did not extend to the criminal charge.
  Accordingly, I suggest the proper course of conduct would be for you to engage a process server to serve your subpoenas. Attempting personal service would only complicate matters for you. I cannot speak for Mr. Morrison, as he is on vacation, but I would expect that he would concur.
         Brian.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Things get nastier and nastier.

I haven't posted for almost three weeks. It's not that nothing's been happening...quite the contrary. It's just that there have been a lot of intricate maneuvers involving myself and opposing counsel, and I didn't want to queer the outcome by spilling things in public unnecessarily.

But hey...what the heck.

When we left off last, I was telling you how I had extended feelers to former U of W Veep John Corlett to see if I could examine him for discovery. Mr. Meronek, counsel for the U, didn't like that at all. He wrote me back, with a copy to Mr. Corlett, using language that I thought implied that I had no business trying to subpoena Mr. Corlett.

I didn't think that was right, and I wrote Mr. Meronek telling him so. Mr. Corlett was my witness, and I was going to have enough trouble to convince him to come all the way from Edmonton  and testify for me without Brian Meronek butting in and questioning my right to examine. (Which is my right.) Anyhow, after telling you all that, it seemed there was nothing left to do but post the actual exchange of correspondence between us. Which I did.

But it didn't end there. In my last letter, I told Mr. Meronek that I though he should write Mr. Corlett back and clear up any wrong impressions he might have left about the way Examination for Discovery is supposed to work. Did Mr. Corlett agree to my request? He did not.

Here is what he wrote back:
Mr. Green;
     I remind you that I was copied on your exchange of emails with Mr. Corlett. I responded to both you & Mr. Corlett as to my position on behalf of the University. I was clear & direct. I cannot prevent you from reading in any innuendo you wish to conjure up, which seems to be your wont. Nevertheless, let me repeat, I will resist any attempt on your part to examine Mr. Corlett as a representative of the University given the fact that he is no longer associated with the University.
    As to Affidavits of Documents & Examinations for Discovery, again let me repeat ,until the Appeal of the decision of the Master is dealt with, we will oppose any attempt at Discoveries. You are incorrect in stating that there are no interlocutory motions outstanding . As you have filed a Motion to strike out the Statement of Defences, you will have every opportunity to argue your position.
    Furthermore, if you think I am intimidated by your threat to lodge a complaint to the LSM, you are sadly mistaken; although from my vantage point, it will be nothing more than another unnecessary distraction. I would also observe that in the absence of such a complaint , it is not appropriate to include Mr. Fineblit in this exchange.
     Lastly, I would ask you to refrain from copying my client, Mr. Morrison, on future communiqu├ęs & leave it up to me to make the requisite contacts with my client.
                                                                     Brian

So Mr. Meronek claims that since he is appealing my victory on his Motion for Summary Judgement, that all other proceedings are on hold until then. Well, I don't think he's right about that. In fact, I went ahead and filed a motion in which I ask the court to compel him to cough up answers to the written Interrogatories which I filed last November, and which were indeed put on hold while his original motion for summary judgement was before the courts. But that motion was resolved in my favor: and according to the Queen's Bench Rules, there is no automatic stay of proceedings pending an appeal of such a motion. And when we appeared before the Master on August 2nd, that's just what the Master told Mr. Meronek. My motion is going ahead...in fact, that's the motion he refers to in his letter when he says there is an "interlocutory motion outstanding".  It's a strange case of circular reasoning...first, he refuses to respond to the interrogatories; then, when I file a motion to compel him to respond, he says he doesn't have to because there's a motion before the court. Interesting. We'll see how that works out.

Then he accuses me of conjuring up innuendos in my head. Okay, that's fair comment. What innuendos did I impute to his letter? Quite simply, I objected to the suggestion that Mr. Corlett would be under no obligation to testify, even if I should subpoena him; and that there was something improper about my attempts to do so.

I've re-read Mr. Meronek's letter again and again, and I think he does give those impressions. But if I'm wrong...if it's just something I've conjured up...wouldn't it be simple for him to clear the air by explaining to Mr. Corlett that although the University will do its best to prevent him from having to testify, that it is indeed my right under the rules of discovery to name an ex-employee as the university's designate?

But Mr. Meronek is not willing to say that. Instead, he compounds the wrong by saying that I have conjured this up out of thin air "as is my wont". As is my wont?

And then he complains because I sent a copy of my response to Colin Morrison, the Univerity's house lawyer. Well, I don't see how he's entitled to make these kinds of derogatory comments about me and spread them all over the email, and I'm not allowed to respond to the same people. So I wrote him back as follows:

Dear Mr. Meronek:

As you know, I have been trying since last year to examine Mr. Corlett on behalf of the university. Those attempts were temporarily put on hold while your motion for Summary Judgement was before the courts. As you know, that motion was resolved in my favor last month. Accordingly, I contacted your office on several occasions to make arrangements for the resumption of the discovery process. You did not respond to my repeated inquiries.

I therefore took the step of approaching Mr. Corlett directly, and he indicated his willingness to comply with his legal duties, although not surprisingly he did not wish to appear to be taking sides in this dispute. I informed him, to the best of my abilities, as to what I thought were his legal duties; and since I am not a lawyer, I copied the correspondence to your office so you would be able to correct any errors that I might have inadvertently made. I even suggested to Mr. Corlett that you would most likely be willing to advise him on his situation if he so requested.

I was therefore dismayed to see that you had copied him the letter you wrote me on Monday, which seemed to me to suggest that I ought not to be contacting him at this stage of the proceedings, and that he ought not to be appearing on behalf of the University. I expressed this concern to you, and you characterised it as an "innuendo" which I had "conjured up". Perhaps it was; but in that case, it should have been easy for you to dispel that innuendo by advising Mr. Corlett, as I suggested, that I did indeed have the right to name his as the University's designate on discovery.

You did not do so. In fact, your subsequent letter compounded that innuendo. If you believe I am not entitled to call Mr. Corlett as  the University's witness, I urge you to so advise him; in which case I will indeed complain to Mr. Fineblit that you are interfering with my witness. In the meantime, I feel it is an improper innuendo which you ought to clear up in my favor, and you ought to do so immediately.

I am further dismayed to see that you have characterized me as a person who is prone to "reading in any innuendo (you) wish to conjure up". It is perhaps fair comment to claim that I misread the intent of your letter of Monday the 21st (although I do not believe I did); but I cannot for the life of me see how you are justified in telling Messrs. Corlett, Morrison, Fineblit, Bock and Mackwood that such behavior is my "wont". I must therefore insist that you retract this gratuitous and unnecessary allegation.

Once I am satisfied that you have done so, I will remove Mr. Morrison from this distribution, as you requested in your previous email. In the future, if you wish to copy our correspondence in confidence to a third party, I suggest you use the "Bcc" function in your email program, as I do when I find myself in similar circumstances.

Marty Green