Supporters of the defendants are being encouraged to come out to Monday’s court date at 9:30 am, Monday March 2, 2015 as the Crown argues why a publication ban would serve the public interest in this case. At least that’s what we imagine they might argue. Lindsay court is at 44 Kent St. in Lindsay, ON.
“The preliminary inquiry in this matter started as scheduled on February 17, 2015. It was supposed to run on 10 consecutive court days, with an additional week at the end of April.
But on the second day of the prelim, lawyer Shawn Buckley was suddenly handed another 104 pages of documents that had never been disclosed previously by the prosecutor Damien Frost. Mr. Buckley had sent Mr. Frost a lengthy list of the documents he required approximately two years earlier, but Mr. Frost’s client, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)—for reasons known only to themselves—had failed to provide these important papers. Over the next two days, additional disclosure was handed to Mr. Buckley, bringing the total for the week to 382 pages.
The fresh disclosure cast new light on the confusion that had always existed regarding the identity of the sheep that had tested positive for scrapie. The CFIA’s entire involvement with Montana’s farm was premised upon the assumption that a diseased sheep had come from her flock. Montana had always disputed this assumption, and the new documents seemed to indicate that the CFIA had not been fully forthcoming, or perhaps had been recklessly negligent, about this important issue.
Mr. Buckley needed time to review the new documents. Several additional CFIA employees—people whom the defence had never previously been told about—might have to be called as witnesses, since they had all been involved in the testing, re-testing, and re-re-testing of the one sick sheep.
The prelim was therefore adjourned on February 23 and is now scheduled to resume on April 27, with a further week now to be held in July.
Meanwhile, a new hullabaloo was triggered by the CFIA’s accusation that someone had sent information about the court proceedings to blogger David Gumpert, a U.S. writer on agricultural issues. The Crown sent unpleasant correspondence to Shawn Buckley, insinuating that Mr. Buckley was responsible for breaching a court-ordered publication ban. The Crown also sent an indignant report on the subject to the court office, asking that it be brought to the attention of the judge.
No doubt the CFIA person directing the conduct of this case was dancing a gleeful caper at the thought of having Buckley removed from the case for misconduct. But once again, the CFIA had erred. It turned out that no publication ban order had ever been made by the judge hearing the prelim.
The nasty e-mail was yet another attempt to intimidate the defendants and their counsel—and to eat away at the funds necessary to pay for their eventual trial.
The CFIA is mighty defensive about this case. They don’t seem to like the publicity they’re getting. But if you don’t like being portrayed in the media as an oppressive bully or a bumbling buffoon, you should be careful not to act like one.
Stay tuned: the issue of the publication ban is set to become the next big sideshow in this case. The CFIA still wants one. Whether they can get one at this stage is another question. The Criminal Code authorizes the court to make such an order prior to the commencement of the evidence at the prelim, but not just any old time.
Ah well, that’s another thing the CCF is here for—to uphold freedom of the press….”