Friday, May 30, 2014

The Judge Turns Up The Heat

I've been telling you about my appearance last week before Justice Martin, attempting to overturn the Summary Judgment awarded to the Schoolteachers in chambers before Master Berthaudin in the winter. Mr. Mackwood had just finished his presentation, and just as I was getting started, the judge interrupted me. Basically, he wanted me to "cut to the chase": he had some real concerns as to how I intended to prove malice on the part of Tram and Skull. Weren't they ultimately just doing their job?

This was unexpected. In my Brief, I had argued that Tram's diary, which which I posted earlier this month online, was virtually dripping with malice at every line. Even the worst of my online haters, like Mr. Confused, virtually admitted it was so. And yet the Judge claimed not to see it. Well, this was going to be tougher than expected. My whole future was on the line.

What happened next was that as I started going through my argument, the Judge was continually engaging me and questioning me. I've never quite been in that position before; usually, both sides present their arugments with little interruption, and then the judge retires to make his decision. But this was a continuous back-and-forth that lasted nearly an hour. It was pretty gruelling.

And yet he seemed to have an  open mind. He assured me that no matter what the outcome, he wanted me to go away feeling that at least my argument had been heard. And I think he was being straight about that. But he still had difficulty seeing explicit malice in Tram's diary.

Finally, with just half and hour left in our two-hour hearing, he asked me if maybe I didn't want to take a break and return to my prepared arguments, which he would listen to without interruption. I took him up on his offer, and left the chambers to gather my wits. At twenty to four, we resumed.

First I reminded the Court of the ground rules for summary judgment: it's not a mini-trial, and I don't have to prove my case. I just have to show that I have some reasonable evidence from which the ultimate finder of fact (the trial judge or jury) could "reasonably infer" the existence of malice. And if the glaring inconsistency between Tram's account of my practicum and my own contemporaneous notes (which were also entered into evidence) wasn't enough, then there were two very compelling circumstances which were almost impossible to explain without the presence of malice:

1. The case against me was made in secret, and not revealed to me until the day I was expelled. This violates all the rules of fair play, whether the common sense rules or the explicit rules set out in the Practicum Student Teacher Handbook.

2.  The evidence showed that after Principal Skull notified the University that I had been excorted off the property, the University immediately wrote back and requested that Skull formally ask that I not be allowed to return! This step was necessary to meet the strict conditions for expedited removal as laid out in the Handbook, thereby depriving me of my right to appeal or have my story heard. This, I told the Judge, more than anything else showed both the elements of malice and conspiracy which were necessarcy for me to prove at trial.

These two elements, which were well-documented in the evidence before the court, should have been (and perhaps they will be) enough for me to prevail at the Summary Judgment level. But there was one more piece of the puzzle which I almost forgot to bring up, and only got in at the last minute. It was almost 4:20 already, and the Judge had already permitted me to go 20 minutes over. I was trying to wrap up, but there was one more thing I wanted to say. I drew the Judges attention to the affidavit of Colin Russell, the University Registrar who had filed a stack of documents almost a year and a half ago in support of the University's unsuccessful attempt at Summary Judgment on the same motion. (The Professors and the Schoolteachers, as I have called them, retained separate counsel and were pursuing separate defence strategies, which is why I had to defeat two different summary judgment motions.)

It seems the day before they kicked me out, the Vice Principal of Gordon Bell had engaged in a phone conversation with Deb Woloshyn, the Director of Student Teaching at the U of W. And Deb had made notes of the conversation, which were then included in the package submitted to the court by Colin Russell. As the Judge read over those notes, I thought I saw an expression of interest that might have boded well for my prospects. When we return, I'll tell you what Mr. Cox told Deb Woloshyn, and why it might have been problematic for Mrs. Skull and Mr. Tram...

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