Friday, January 17, 2014

I know nussink. Nuss-ss-ss-SINK!

I told you the other day about Neil Besner's bizarre evasiveness under cross-examination when I asked him the reason I had been banned from the campus. It should have been a simple question with a simple answer: I was banned because Professor Bush said I tried to force my way into his home. But it turned out that's not the way the University wanted to play it out.

As the cross-examination went on, it became apparent that the University was going to argue that the home-invasion was little more than the straw that broke the camel's back...that they had ample reason to ban me from the campus regardless. That's why, when pressed, Besner was only reluctantly willing to admit that the home invasion "precipitated" the barring notice. In fact, he would go on to claim, the University had every intention of issuing the ban even before the events of January 11th.

But that would only become evident much later. In the short run, Besner's strategy seemed to be simply was to do everything possible to avoid answering any questions.

It started when I asked him why I was banned from the campus, and he claimed it was because of some conflict with a professor, of which he was unfamiliar with the details. It would turn out, of course, that he was intimately familiar with the details.

Then I asked him about what discussions took place with regard to issuing the trespassing order: specifically, who was involved in those discussions. His answer? "Hard to recall."

And again: How did he become aware of the incident? His answer: "I just can't recall. Sorry, can't recall."

And later, when I asked him: did you have any role in the trespassing order getting issued? His answer was a flat-out "No."

It was only when I expressed disbelief, that he clarified: "I don't issue trespass orders. I'm not a policeman."

So he was going to be clever about this, was he? I don't know if it's officially called a barring notice or a trespassing order, but everyone in the court knew what I was asking him about, and when I finally phrased the question to his satisfaction, he replied: "Yes, absolutley."

And then it started all over again. What exactly was the nature of his involvement in getting the trespassing order...oops, "barring notice"... issued? He asked for clarification: was I referring to the evening of the 11th? Yes I was, because that's when the notice was issued. His answer: "I had no involvement in the signing of the barring notice on the eveing that you're referring to."

Well, that took about 15 minutes to straighten out. It turns out that the University would claim that while the barring notice was dated the 11th of January, it wasn't signed until a day or two later. So Besner could argue that he was technically correct in saying that he had not been involved in discussions on that evening. But I never asked him about that evening in the first was he who asked me to stipulate the evening in it turned out, just so he could deny his involvement.

And so I rephrased my question: I understand that you weren't involved in signing it, but I wonder if you might have been involved in giving instructions to someone else to sign it? His answer: "It's a difficult question..." followed by more evasiveness, and ending with, "You know, I cannot remember who instructed who to issue a barring notice. But I certainly would have been in favor of it, if that's what you want to know."

With considerable difficulty, I finally got Besner to that admit security chief Martin Grainger would not have had the authority to issue the barring notice on his own, and that his instructions to do so were "probably" issued as a result of consultation between himself (Besner), VP of Human Resources Laurel Rebsky, and U of W in-house counsel Colin Morrison.

So then I asked him about something Grainger had already testified to earlier: that the plans were already in place, prior to the evening of January 11th, to issue the barring order. Surely, based on what Besner had just explained about the procedure, and the need to have two vice-presidents involved, that if there was a move afoot, wouldn't he have been involved in those discussions?

And here he tried to pull the same stunt as before: he answered, "Quite possibly. Is the question whether that (discussion) took place on Friday afternoon or whether it took place..."

But by now even the judge could see where this was going, and she wasn't going let him pull another Sargent Schultz: "Or in the days leading up to..."

"Quite possibly there was such a discussion, yes. Absolutley."

When we return, we'll see what was the basis on which the University supposedly intended to ban me from the campus prior to the home invasion.

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