Friday, 25 March 2016

Ghomeshi Lessons, part 1.

What to write about the trial of the decade? The banal evil of social media hyperbole + a depraved legal system can devour events and regurgitate a perfectly horrifying dawg's breakfast.

The cathartic element in this case and trial is a histrionically skilled and malignant narcissist who has benefitted immeasurably from patriarchy AND feminism.

Seasoned feminists observed that in the 1970s women acquired the right to say YES enthusiastically to sexual activity.  This *revolution* was immediately countered by many men who exploited it to their advantage by denying a woman's right to say NO.

Generations of men then followed, some who claim not to understand what consent is, others who whine about being "friend-zoned" and those who aspire to PUA summits of Roosh-like action.

Jian Ghomeshi falls into the latter category.  His public schtick, which worked admirably well for pseudo-feminists in the 1970s, was refined to the point that many staunch feminist acquaintances were completely scammed by his Support Bro' demeanour.  Meanwhile, in his private life he was the guy who badly needed to hurt women to get a really good hard-on.

In late 2014, when rumours about certain proclivities became too loud, he deployed a well-honed tactic of pre-emptive aggression.  He showed a video of one of his rough sex episodes to his CBC bosses.  It's not known whether the other participant consented to the activity, its recording or its presentation to Ghomeshi's superiors.

That didn't go well.  So he cranked up the campaign by posting a self-indulgent piece (Just a lad with a kink!) on his Facebook website, not anticipating this would provide leverage to The Toronto Star to publish their story.

This led to an outpouring of many other women reporting that Ghomeshi had physically assaulted them.

When his PR firm failed him, Ghomeshi hired Marie Henein as his criminal defence lawyer, weeks ahead of actually being charged with criminal assault.

Here's a chronology of events.

Back in 2014, I anticipated Henein would find ways of stitching-up the evidence.

Playing Cassandra is an unpleasant role though somebody has to do it.

This was before the trial commenced.  As it unfolded, I wrote a blogpost and used tweets to observe, from afar.

Horkins' pontification seems to confirm that Henein used the knowledge she gleaned from his previous judgments to map out a strategy that played to his beliefs and principles.  A specific approach to cross-examination was required to demonstrate the complainants were unreliable and that their testimony wasn't credible.

But. If the prosecution's case could be so easily destroyed, why didn't Heinin approach the Crown, as she did with the Michael Bryant case, to lay out the full content of the defence preparation and suggest that the charges be dismissed?

In the Bryant file, technical experts dismantled the sloppy evidence-gathering TPS produced. As well, there was considerable information with regard to Darcy Sheppard and manifestations of physical threats he expressed against other drivers.

Wait.  Here's the difference between the two cases, in addition to the possibility one of the accused is a basically decent person and the other one isn't.

I am not a lawyer, but I believe that a professional would have to consult their client before engaging with the prosecution in matters such as plea bargaining or suggesting charges be dismissed.

With Bryant's case, proceeding to trial meant that Henein or her assistant counsel would have to set up Crown witnesses as well as TPS staff testimony for demolition and in the process, embarrassing the police department as well as the prosecution lawyers.  Proof of Darcy Sheppard's previous violent behaviour would have to be thoroughly documented.  Bryant was likely to be acquitted, why not avoid the expense of a prolonged trial that besmirched the memory of his victim?

In light of what's been revealed with regard to the pleasure he takes from manipulating, degrading, harming and injuring women, I believe that if Ghomeshi had been informed of Henein's strategy, he would have licked his chops at the eventuality of seeing these women savaged in the court-room.  No way would this vindictive man have chosen to deprive himself of a privileged front-row seat to their humiliation.

That trial stands not only as a warning to women who have been physically and sexually assaulted to avoid reporting the crime to the criminal injustice system, but to those who might now and in the future, be approached by Ghomeshi.  His sexual fetish is violence against women and girls. (Some of the women who claim he approached them online are under 21 years of age. He is 46.)

A woman who was a graduate law student when she dated Ghomeshi in 2002, described what occurred and why she chose at that time not to report his violent, coercive attack on her.

Cops, crown lawyers, defence attorneys, judges: anybody who continues to exonerate and justify the way in which the legal system crushes complainants and re-victimizes them, explicitly colludes with patriarchal violence.

Unless they speak up against such travesty, and work to change this injustice.

ADDED: _What Ought Crown Counsel to do in Prosecuting Sexual Assault Charges? Some Post-Ghomeshi Reflections_ March 29, 2016 from Alice Woolley.
"[..] preparation is still essential for the prosecution of a criminal trial. Witness preparation does more than tell the lawyer about the nature of the evidence. It allows the lawyer to assess the witness’s ability to present the evidence, to determine whether the witness will advance the lawyer’s trial strategy and, ultimately, to determine if that trial strategy has a viable chance of succeeding given the nature of this witness’s evidence and capacity to testify. Further, it allows the lawyer to help ensure that the witness gets to provide her testimony, and that she will not end up looking like a liar when she is telling the truth.

Because let’s be absolutely clear: it is the ethical duty of a defence lawyer to make prosecution witnesses look like liars, even if those witnesses are telling the truth. That duty is constrained; a defence lawyer must not harass a witness, and must remain within the boundaries of the legal restrictions on cross-examination (in a sexual assault case, e.g., not asking improper questions about the complainant’s sexual history). But within those constraints a defence lawyer will do his best to exploit any inconsistency or weakness in the witness’s evidence to make that witness appear to be non-credible. Whether or not the witness is in fact telling the truth is not only irrelevant, it may make discrediting that witness essential to the defence lawyer’s ability to obtain an acquittal for his client [..]"
Read the whole magnificent thing here.

ALSO: This. _Mastery or Misogyny? The Ghomeshi Judgment and Sexual Assault Reform_ April 1, 2016 from Joshua Sealy-Harrington.
As discussed earlier, Justice Horkins’ judgment has deeply polarized Canadian discourse on sexual assault, receiving both warm praise and vitriolic criticism.However, in my view, neither approach is optimal for deconstructing the judgment with a view to improving the Canadian administration of sexual assault law. Rather, a careful consideration of the judgment’s strengths and weaknesses permits the most comprehensive analysis of the genuine mistakes made by Justice Horkins (and others), and how best to avoid those mistakes in future cases.We need to address the problems that pervade the Canadian administration of sexual assault law, and those problems must be understood before they can be solved.
In my humble opinion, Kwe Today presents the best pragmatic and theoretical arguments for a timely and necessary revision of the criminal code and its sexual assault provisions.

Theses are the thinkers who are raising their voices, after Marie Henein blew the lid off the festering legal system rot.

We might listen, then actively support law reform in this regard.

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