At 9:30 yesterday morning, cowshare members, friends and legal counsel were down in the basement of the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket with raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt, attempting to find out in which courtroom the case was to be heard.
What finally became apparent was that a number of other cases had been put on the docket ahead of the province’s appeal and it seemed that the appeal proceedings would not be starting until 2:15 pm. With court sessions ending at 4:30 pm, that did not seem to accommodate the three hours that would be needed for initial presentations.
In consultations between lawyers for both sides, Michael Schmidt and Justice Peter Tetley, the judge who will be hearing the motion on the appeal, it was decided to postpone the start of appeal proceedings until October 21, 2010. A preliminary case management meeting with the lawyers, Michael Schmidt and Justice Tetley, at which time ground rules for the proceedings would be determined, was scheduled for July 22. Postponing the appeal hearing until October will also provide Justice Tetley with an opportunity to work his way through a stack of related documents about eight inches deep.
In preparation for yesterday’s appeal hearing, Michael’s lawyer, Karen Selick, of the Canadian Constitution Foundation had prepared a motion asking, among other things, for the appeal hearing to be divided into two parts, the first pertaining to the initial acquittal and whether it should be reversed, and the second dealing with the constitutional arguments, with the thought being that if Justice Kowarsky’s acquittal is not reversed, there will be no need to proceed with constitutional arguments.
The appeal in question is an appeal by the Ontario Attorney-General’s office, of a 40 page ruling handed down in January of 2010 by Justice Paul Kowarsky, in which he found farmer Michael Schmidt not guilty on all 19 raw-milk-related charges which had been brought against him by the Crown, arising from a November 2006 raid on his farm, located near Durham in Grey County, Ontario.
David Walther, a U.S. lawyer who is observing the case and has volunteered his assistance, said that Justice Tetley indicated that he is well aware of the high level of public interest in this case.
The Dairy Farmers of Ontario, formerly the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, are thought to have supported the province’s decision to appeal the ruling. Micheal Schmidt has been providing raw milk to cowshare members in southern Ontario since the early 1990s.