injusticebusters logo

November 2003: Klassen/Kvello civil action

A self-represented litigant's major accomplishment

Injusticebusters' daily reports from the courthouse

Matthew MiazgaNovember 3, 2003: He got some rest over the week-end and would seem to be himself again. This morning, Mr. Matthew Miazga stated that if Peter Klassen had not agreed to plead guilty to four charges, he was going to proceed to try the Klassen/Kvello plaintiffs in this action. He said that he was not only encouraged by Judge Robert Finley's comments that he believed the children but also by Judge Mary Batten's conviction of the birth parents and Don White. Judge Batten made some comments in her judgment on this case which caused Miazga to request a transcript as he was not sure he could trust his initial hearing of the words she uttered in court. This included the observation that the Ross children were terribly damaged and should receive therapy and begin to heal. It was from these words that Miazga claims he had to reconsider whether another court proceeding would interrupt this healing process.

Miazga spoke of having decided to call Anita Klassen to testify against Ross, Ross and White even though he was prepared to proceed against her in a future proceeding. He wanted her testimony regarding the behavior of the children in her home, Miazga said. He was anticipating that experts would be able to resolve the contradiction between her being a reliable witness regarding her observations of the children's behavior and an indicted party in charges of having sexually assaulted these same children.

(The Ross, Ross and White convictions were upheld by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, that decision based largely on the credibility of Anita Klassen's testimony. The convictions were finally called into question by the Supreme Court of Canada where Don White was acquitted and new trials ordered for Don and Helen Ross.)

Carol Bunko-Ruys

Miazga stated he had asked for permission to call experts from out of province in the Klassen/Kvello matter. The main expert he relied upon was Carol Bunko-Ruys (right). He had known Ms. Bunko-Ruys previously from having worked with her in a committee where a joint (crown, police, social services) protocol on how to deal with sexual abuse was being drafted.

Throughout his testimony Miazga referred to extensive discussions with his superiors: Fred Dehm, Wilf Tucker, Ellen Gunn and Richard Quinney were all consulted. (Tucker and Gunn are now judges; Quinney is dead). He also alleged to have had discussions with Robert Borden and Daryl LaBach. LaBach has already testified to the extent of his discussions; Borden, as counsel for the plaintiffs cannot give testimony.

Miazga also recalled that during the Ross, Ross and White proceedings, on a Friday morning, he had been approached by Helen Ross's lawyer, Jack Hillson, regarding his client wishing to testify against her husband in exchange for charges being dropped against her. He wanted guidance reagarding his response to this request and took his question to the weekly round-table of prosecutors at Friday lunch. He said that Terry Hinz said that he didn't think this was the sort of thing which should be discussed at these round-tables. He went back to court that afternoon and declined to take Hillson up on his offer.

Richard Klassen has begun his cross-examination of Miazga who has been testy in his responses so far. Mr. Miazga really doesn't seem to remember how the Ross/Klassen/Kvello file first got onto his desk. He doesn't remember if he read it right away. He seems to recall a telephoned message being attached to it. No particular aspect of the file stuck in his memory.

Court resumed at 2 p.m. Miazga was no longer testy but he was still loquacious. The straightforward question of why he did not disclose to the defence when Kathy disclosed to him during a witness preparation interview on October 30, 1991, that Kari Klassen had in fact performed and had asked to be performed on her the same list of sucking and touching of nipples and vaginas that she had disclosed about other female suspects, he just wrote it down on a pad of paper. In fact, Miazga told the court, he did not even realize that this was the first time Kathy had made any allegations against Kari, who, we learned last week during Dueck's testimony, was charged with molesting Kathy on the original information as a result of human error.

Miazga also testified that even if he had realized that some charges were erroneously laid, he would have no authority to drop them -- that would have to be done in consultation with a superior prosecutor.

He had not viewed the videotaped testimony of the children since September, 1991, when he viewed them as a way of getting to know the children so he could recognize them when he met them. He took no notes regarding any concerns he might have had regarding the type of questioning done by Dueck and Bunko-Ruys. He said that it was after defence lawyers had raised the issue several times he asked Cpl. Dueck to make copies of the tapes to provide to the defence. He had no knowledge of the quality of the tapes which were provided and said he received no complaints about the poor quality from the defence.

Miazga could not remember what any of his thought processes might have been in 1991. He was uncertain about when co-defendant prosecutor Sonja Hansen got involved with the file.

Mr. Miazga will not be available Wednesday and it is not clear whether the plaintiffs will finish their cross-examination by then.

November 4, 2003: Judge Baynton opened court this morning with some admonitions to move the case along. He pointed out to the plaintiffs that many civil trials are lost in cross-examination. It is considered best not to ask a question if you don't already what the response will be.

Richard Klassen took these words to heart as he continued his cross-examination of Matthew Miazga. Confronted with instructions from Mr. Quinney's office regarding how to handle the public announcements regarding the conviction of Peter Klassen and the staying of all other charges in February, 1993 Miazga stated he did not agree with the point said the most important aspect of such an announcement was that the evidence against the accused was insufficient to pursue a trial. Miazga said he believed that Judge Mary Batten's statement that the children should be allowed to influenced his statement to the media.

A document from the Regina prosecutions office stating the children's testimony was inconsistent and would not stand up to scrutiny was also dismissed by Miazga. "I disagreed," he said. He added that he was free to do what he did and was not required to take orders from Regina. When asked if he recognized documents issued from Regina regarding how the prosecutor's office should handle the public questions which had arisen from the case, Miazga said he had not seen these documents. He didn't go to Regina and see what they had there. When it was suggested to him that the documents had come from his own list of documents, he insisted he had no memory of them. The case was over. He was on to other matters.

Miazga also stated that he was interested in trying the cases against the all the accused because it gave him an opportunity to run the first trial in Saskatchewan where accused were placed behind screens with video monitors. "This was new at the time," he said.

Under cross-examination by Robert Borden, Miazga acknowledged that Carol Bunko-Ruys was probably the first and last person he consulted on the file.

Borden acknowledged that he may have made some inquiries regarding Dr. George Frazier, an expert in ritual cult activities and multiple personalities. However, he did not remember what that contact may have been or who suggested Frazier to him. He settled instead for another expert who testified at the Ross, Ross and White trial.

Borden showed him several documents, including the initial police information, containing references to ritual sexual abuse. A police document listed Carol Bunko Ruys as a local expert on ritual sexual abuse. Miazga played these down and answered Borden's very directed questions by talking about other things. Finally the judge asked him to give more directed answers. The rest of the cross-examination was brief.

Sonja Hansen will testify tomorrow.

Sonja Hansen

November 5, 2003: During her examination in chief this morning, Sonja Hansen (right) presented herself as a serious and conscientious prosecutor who would not present to the court a witness she did not have confidence in. The three former foster children of Diane Kvello fell into this category and she stayed all charges they had made against adults in early January. As any responsible prosecutor would.

But wait -- one of these children she had lost her confidence in gave a last-minute allegation against a young offender who had previously been charged against one or more of the Ross children. This would be corroborative evidence so she let it stay for a trial in youth ourt which was scheduled for early February. That trial did not go forward and was ditched just prior to the general staying of charges.

Hansen was very careful to let the court know that she did not interpret the protocol's dictum that "children are to be believed" narrowly and understood it to mean an allegation made by a child should be investigated as seriously as one made by an adult. She did state that she viewed a SCC decision which stated children's eye-witness testimony did not require corroboration as opening up possibilities for trying persons accused of crimes against children.

Robert Borden cross-examined Hansen.

Hansen made clear that her only connection with the Ross, Ross and white preliminary inquiry was to sit in for two days and take notes of Miazga's examination in chief of the Ross children. She never watched the videotapes. Nonetheless when she found herself on a speakerphone with head prosecutors, who were at a meeting in Moose Jaw, in a telephone call made by Miazga, to get advice regarding whether to procceed with the Klassen/Kvello matter after Miazga had elicited evidence he knew to be untrue from Michael, Hansen says she told Ellen Gunn, her most senior boss at the time, who asked her point blank if she believed the children that "she believed the gist of what they were saying."

On many matters, her testimony was very similar to Miazga's. However, regarding the lunch with Judge Finley, Hanson's testimony differed somewhat: where Miazga stated that Finley volunteered the observation that he believed the Ross children's testimony, Hansen's recollection was that he had responded to a question that was asked of him.

So Miazga worked on the Ross, Ross and White prosecutions while Hansen prepared for Klassen/Kvello. Such was the division of labour. While Matt was away, she helped find expert witnesses. She didn't know what they were experts at, though. Well, to help the court to understand some of the more bizarre aspects of the testimony. But: there were no allegations of ritual, sexual abuse against any of the Klassens or Kvellos. She said that twice. When presented with the sworn informations wich broadly refer to Satanic ritual abuse throughout, she was not so certain.

She could scarcely conceal her dislike for former colleague Terry Hinz. She described the same meeting Miazga had when Hinz had apparently shut Matt down when asking for guidance regarding an offer from Helen Ross's lawyer during a Friday round-table. She said that the first she heard Dueck had seen the file was three years ago when he told her. Miazga was out of town at the time. Well, yes, she had discussed the Peter Klassen file with Hinz.

Her take on the reasons for not pressing forward with the Klassen/Kvello trial? She had seen Michelle break down in the courtroom and cry. "A nine year old girl. Confused and frightened. In the name of Justice I could not allow it to o on."

A letter from Dave MacNack, a senior official at Social Servies thanked the Crown's office for providing insight into the new kinds of allegations. What would these be? Well, Hansen didn't know.

Borden read to her part of a transcript from Corporal Jim Walker's interview with one of Pam Klassen's former foster children. Q: "Did Peter Klassen touch you?" A: My Daddy said he did." Regarding the apprehension of Pam Klassen's adopted son Mikey, Borden put the question to Hansen: What was your evidence against Pamela Klassen?

Hansen has until tomorow morning to consider her answer to that question.

Scandal ofthe Century is hearing scandalous testimony

Make no mistake: this is a historic trial. A man representing himself has pushed a $10M+ trial to its sixth week and the judge has already made preliminary findings of malice against four of the defendants.

Brian Dueck

For three days this week, the court heard Superintendant Dueck boldly justify all his actions. His experience and authority as a police officer allowed him to extract several hours of videotaped tall tales from severely damaged eleven and nine year old children and then pick and choose which aspects of the stories he would "believe" and take to the Crown. Those bits he believed -- and he stated he believes them still -- were considered to be disclosure. Those bits he did not believe -- and he said at one point he never believed some of them -- he would consider to be non-disclosure which he had no obligation to tell to anybody. This would include choice bits such as the baby-killings and the sex-abuse parties attended by folks who had not even met each other, but also the parts where the kids emphatically stated certain people had NOT abused them. Never! never! never! Michael screams when Dueck badgers him regarding Richard Klassen's attendance at one such party.

His file was not read by anyone else because the readers are in Central Records and Dueck didn't file his reports. Nor did he keep any notes. Nor was he required to. Says Dueck. Material which the plaintiffs in the lawsuit received through a lengthy and harrowing discovery process came from boxes Dueck kept in his office. Of course Dueck's office moved several times, as Chief Dave Scott promoted him first to Sergeant, then to Acting Inspector and then to Superintendant. Those boxes moved through the offices of several lawyers before finally landing with David Gerrand, one of the most highly paid lawyers in Saskatchewan hired on by Dave Scott to conduct Dueck's defence.

Malice is proven if it can be shown that Dueck had a purpose other than the administration of justice when he gathered his evidence, prepared his case and took it over to the prosecutor's office. We certainly see that the result of all this was to give a huge boost to his career. Looking backwards we can infer this was his plan. Bud Johnson, Ron Schindell, Marv Hansen and others who testified to having at least glancing involvement with this file did not reach the rank of super. Neither did any of them have such enthusiastic belief that the Ross children were telling the truth about the Klassens and Kvellos. Jim Walker, who was Dueck's partner and buddy for many years has now been presented as a guy who just happened to be available for certain junkets, like driving out to Wakaw Lake to investigate a suspected stalker or going to Red Deer to help Dueck try to extract confessions from the suspects. There was a falling out somewhere along the line. Jim Walker did not make it to Superintendant, either.

Dueck has used every person and agency possible in his climb to the top of police department. Well, not quite the top. Mayor Jim Maddin, who was a cop during many of the same years as Dueck, saw to that. Now Dueck is using the court to place on the record that he might have been mistaken here or there, when he made testimony regarding this or that important fact at this or that trial or proceeding. But he is only human and it was such a big case. Especially when he wasn't writing a lot of things down. He was following pre-Stinchcombe police policy regarding his selective disclosing: he just knew that policy and had no need to check with his superiors.

And now prosecutor Matthew Miazga is in the witness box. He is singing a slightly different tune, but it would seem to be in the same key. He was just doing his job. He was receiving praise from those with higher rank than he. He was also able to discern which parts of the children's stories were believable and which were not. He viewed the videotapes and took notes. And he still, well, kind of, believes that the Klassen and Kvellos were, well, guilty of something.

Yes, Mathew Miazga has appeared at every jurisdiction in the province prosecuting files from tiny summary matters to murder trials. He has been a prosecutor for 20 years. No one has cast aspersions on his integrity in this proceeding. Well, lawyers don't do that to each other, do they. When asked, both Terry Hinz and Daryl LaBach said they perceived him as an honest prosecutor. Hard-hitting, said LaBach. The prosecutor's office can accomodate differing views and opinions, said Hinz who clearly had a different philosophy regarding the prosecutor's duty to disclose.

Don McKillop tendered as evidence ten pages of memos from Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard Quinney, which had been provided to prosecutors before and after the Stinchcombe decision. (Note that these memooranda were also sent to police departments and the RCMP).

The following quotation from Mr. Justice Rand (R v. Boucher, 1955) regarding the role of the federal prosecutor was presented to both Hinz and Miazga during their respecitve appearances:

The role of prosecutor excludes any notion of winning or losing; his function is a matter of public duty that which in civil life there can be none charged with greater personal responsibility. It is to be performed with an ingrained sense of the dignity, the seriousness and the justness of the judicial proceedings.

Hinz's response: Of course. That was practically tatooed on our foreheads in law school.

Miazga's response: A lengthy pause followed by taking a drink from his water glass, more pause, he looks up, teary eyed and voice slightly trembling and says yes. He has these words displayed in a place of prominence on his office wall.

Law school graduates some lawyers who truly understand the meaning of justice and others who grasp what they need to do to move their careers ahead. There are some actors who seem to become the character they play and convince us that the words they speak come from their own hearts and others who adopt a lot of gimmicks and who are less convincing.

Judge Rand's proclamation does not say a prosecutor should procced as long as he believes he can get his case past a judge. Neither does it say a prosecutor should proceed with confidence when he has successfully had proceedings closed to the public and sealed all evidence which might reveal the flaws in his case.

Miazga is a bad actor. To be fair, he was ill on Friday. We'll see how he does after a week-end of rest.

Today in court: Crown closes its case leaving all allegations regarding Carol Bunko-Ruys uncontested

November 6, 2003: Under cross-examination by Robert Borden Hansen continued to maintain her previous statement that she believed the Ross children were telling the truth about their allegations against the Klassens and Kvellos even after the charges were stayed. Like Miazga before her, she maintains that the reason for staying the charges was concern for the Ross children's apparent traumatization. This traumatization, she expanded today, was a consequence of cross-examination by defence counsel. Another witness who had been presented to the preliminary inquiry, a receptionist in a Social Services office had also proved to be no match for cross-examination by LaBach and Borden. This witness had claimed she had witnessed an inappropriate mouth on mouth kiss between Pam Klassen and her foster son Mikey during a supervised visit when Pam was allowed to visit him on his birthday. Judge Finley gave absolutely no weight to this testimony and there were no findings of sexual assault committed on Mikey by Pam.

So the Crown's decision to proceed with the charge against Pam was grounded in Michael Ross's statement that he had seen it.

Hansen continued to dodge the question of whether she was aware that Michael was continuing to abuse his sisters up to and during the trials by stating she understood seurity measures were in place in the Thompson house. She had not read and did not read the Thompson papers.

Hansen also referred to testimony from an older child witness who had been in Pam Klassen's care. This girl had presented evidence that Peter Klassen had given her money in exchange for seeing her private parts. This was similar fact evidence against other plaintiffs, Hansen said, who claimed Grandpa had given them money. Hansen acknowledged that this was not evidence against any of the other plaintiffs. However, this girl-witness had also referred to a Thanksgiving dinner where Hansen understood all the Klassen and Kvellos had gathered to watch a pornographic video and told the children to get out of the room. Borden asked Hansen to produce her evidence regarding this claim and after the break, she returned with a 5" x 7" note on which she had written "grandma-wheelchair - movie - dirty pics." These were notes from a pretrial interview with the witness, she explained. She had questioned the girl regarding Marie Klassen's mobility and a dirty movie the girl had referred to in her videotaped disclosure. As far as the full-blown Thanksgiving porn-viewing party, Hansen said she thought this was in the preliminary inquiry transcript but before lunch, she had not produced it.

Borden asked her if she had any doubts about the fact that the Ross children alleged full penetration while the child witnesses in her care had referred to what she described as fondling. No, Hansen answered. Different children present in different ways, she said. When some children say screwing, they mean fondling and vice versa. Borden then showed her several instances where the Ross children had referred to penises in vaginas and in bums.

Richard Klassen took up the cross-examination. He suggested that she had been assigned to the case as early as May, 1991 because Sheila Verway from Red Deer had noted regarding her call from Brian Dueck that prosecutors (plural) were looking at the charges.

Hansen said she gave little thought to the crown's responsibility in releasing a dozen guilty child molesters into the public at the time the charges were stayed.

At the end of the day, and the end of the charges she acknowledged the Crown was left with only one credible witness.

The Crown closed its case. The plaintiffs brought forward a motion to call as a rebuttal witness Amy Joe Eamon, a former CBC reporter who had recently come forward to offer testimony regarding Brian Dueck. Dueck's lawyer opposed this motion.

Court adjourned until next Wednesday when Judge Baynton will announce whether or not Eamon can be called. Then final argument will be heard. After the final arguments, the government's counter-claim of defamation against Richard Klassen will be heard. After Klassen's defence is presented, it is expected court will adjourn until Judge Baynton brings his judgment which could take months.

November 12: Judge Baynton allowed Amy Jo Ehman to testify. She said that before the July 10, 1991 arrests, she had run into Dueck at a conference attended by both journalists and police and he had told her he was working on a big case and there would be many arrests. In preparation for covering the story, he recommended she read a book. Ehman could not remember the name of the book but said she borrowed it from the library and read anough of it to understand it was about a case in the United States where children were abused by adults in a day care setting and there was blood sacrifice and Satanic overtones. He asked her to keep this under her hat and when the arrests were made, he would give her an interview. She does not remember the nature of the coverage she gave to the case. Her testimony was low key but key, nonetheless. She had been made aware of the case through newspaper reports and from talking to a journalist now covering the case. She said her conscience was pricked as she thought theat her testimony might have some value. She consulted a friend who was a lawyer who, in turn, suggested she call Robert Borden. Dueck was given an opportunity to take the stand as a surrebuttal witness but declined to do so.

Richard Klassen then presented his final argument. He said the evidence showed and it could be inferred that Bunko-Ruys and Dueck had arranged for the Ross twins to be placed in the Thompson home with Michael and that, although the disclosures of abuse by members of the Klassen/Kvello family were given first to Marilyn Thompson, they felt it necessary to prepare the children for several months before videotaping the disclosures. The disclosures were improperly elicited by Dueck in his "chance" meeting with the children at Taco Time where he testified he told them he was glad they were "safe in the Thompson home." The implication that he had felt they were not safe at Anita's and Dale's made laid the groundwork for the disclosures which Kathy began to make. "What went on in the five months between the Taco Time meeting and the October 1990 disclosures? he asked.

Klassen also said the prosecutors had a duty to him and the other plaintiffs as well as to the children. The prosecutor had a responsibility to all of the public, he said. They knew that these were serious charges. Certainly, Miazga was going on holidays around the time of the laying of the charges and Hansen may have been involved with other things. At some point after they began to look at the case, they must have become aware that the evidence contained in Dueck's informations was contradictary and not credible. Suggesting a motive for proceeding, Klassen said it was to save face. There was also some evidence from which a reasonable and proper adjudicator might infer that they were all aware that Dueck's original case had Satanic and ritual child abuse dimensions. Otherwise, why search for experts who were known to testify about such cases? Those words were not on the charges because there was not a criminal code charge which included them. Nonetheless, he said, that was the case they all believed they were prosecuting. The crown prosecutors did not fully inform their superiors of the incredibility of their witnesses, or, indeed, their own doubts about the case, instead seeking affirmation to proceed.

Robert Borden presented argument, including case law and academic articles about the role of the prosecutor which clearly states the prosecutor is to be independent, making decisions for which he or she alone takes full responsibility and should never seek affirmation. Borden used less than his two and a half hours and since there was still time, Gerrand presented his final argument on behalf of Dueck. His argument spoke to the change in times, hyped Dueck as an honest policeman only doing his job, presented the case as highly complicated and ended with a homily which took the Monday morning quarterback metaphor to the curling rink -- something like it's easy to call the perfect shot from behind the glass. Hindsight is 20-20. That one. Funny thing. The court did not hear Dueck say that he would do anything differently today.

McKillop will conclude tomorrow.

Then there will be a short presentation of the Defendants' defamation counter-claim against Klassen and he will respond. McKillop's clients' counterclaim is relying on three posters alleged to have been circulated by Klassen in 1993 and Klassen's response to them during his examinations for discovery.

November 13: The liability trial ended at five past noon. Judge Baynton promised to strive to have his judgment in before Christmas. He thanked all the parties and the media and the gallery for conducting themselves well during the lengthy proceedings. He said that he will have to review the entire table full of evidence with a view to the higher standard of proof the plaintiffs mustrequired at this stage of proeedings.

McKillop addressed two evidentiary points in his closing argument regarding his defendant Carol Bunko-Ruys: one was the former child complainants allegation she had been interviewed by Carol Bunko-Ruys while other evidence shows she was interviewed by Janet Matkowski; the other was a denial that his client had helped the children manufacture their stories. With regard to his prosecutor clients, Matthew Miazga and Sonja Hansen, he suggested they had not "bootstrapped" their cases but rather acted properly throughout, staying charges as the evidence fell away and deciding to proceed with the deal of staying the charges against the rest of Peter Klassen's family in exchange for a guilty pleas to four charges.

On the question of malice, he argued that the plaintiffs did not fit the category found in Nelles which states "the charges were stayed in favour of the plaintiffs." His argument was convoluted and relied on unrelated cases. The charges which were stayed ed on February 3, 1993, were not in favour of the plaintiffs but the result of a plea bargain, he said. Charges stayed prior the "deal" could, however, be said to have been in the favour of the plaintiffs.

The defamation counterclaim by McKillop's clients against Richard Klassen was short. McKillop relied on 3 posters from 1993 and several pages of Klassen's exam for discovery regarding those posters which claimed that Dueck, Bunko-Ruys, Miazga and Hansen had conspired to manufacture their case using unreliable children and cover up their actions by keeping the children together even though they knew Michael was raping his sisters. McKillop said this was not fair comment. Klassen said he had nothing to add to what he had said in the 2000 exams. Both sides took less than an hour, a far cry to the criminal defamation trials which took days and weeks of court time in 1994 and 1995. McKillop was involved in some of those, too. John and Johanna Lucas were eventually convicted and sentenced to significant jailtime. At the Supreme Court of Canada, Lucas lost his appeal on April 1, 1997, having fought the matter on constitutional grounds. Inez Cardinal prosecuted Steele and Klassen in 1994; Steele's indictment was quashed by Judge D. Wright (now presiding over the Stonechild inquiry) on writ of certiorari, the finding being that she had a sincere belief in her signs which read "Sgt. Dueck and Carol Bunko-Rhys should be arrested and tried for their crimes" and "Arrest and charge those responsible for the rape of an 8 yr. old." Klassen was held over to stand trial, at which he won a directed acquittal from Judge Peter Dielschnieder in 1996; the Crown appealed and abandoned the appeal in 1997 shortly after the Lucas decision.

The public efforts to efforts to bring this matter to public attention through postering and picketing have been generally dismissed as kook activity in the media, although at the time they were going on it was the only media attention any of the issues around this case received. The Saskatoon Police and government lawyers fought back hard at the same time they were attempting to get the civil claim now before the courts watered down and/or dismissed. In 1998, the Internet became the new forum for keeping the case alive.

The Internet made possible communication among many wrongfully accused persons to find each other and compare notes. This is still going on and there are websites all over the continent devoted to elaborating the facts in many different cases. The tone runs from the kind of shot-gun pellet scatter outrage which characterized a lot of our first postings to the more considered tone we reflect today, as we have persuaded more people to listen to us. We strongly identify with the outrage expressed by people when they first discover they have been in some way set up by cops or prosecutors and find themselves charged or convicted of crimes for which they are innocent. We have learned, however, that while that anger and outrage would seem to be a necessary part of the process of seeking justice, the fruits of hard work, deconstructing and reconstructing these injustices in a civilized settting and getting the facts before an impartial arbiter of fact is far more satisfying.

It has been said before and I will say it again: laws and rules by themselves do not guarantee anything. It is the human motive which are brought to these laws and institions which hold the promise of a fair outcome. This has not changed since the days of Solomon. Greedy and malicious people have been finding ways to subvert fair institutions since from Solomon's time, through the Magna Carta. Any subversion of the high aims of a legal system can be seen to be malicious. Our legal system aims high: it seeks to protect the rights of everyone, rich, poor, handicapped, illiterate. Civil proceedings still tend to favour the rich who find easier access to the courts and conduct themselves as though they are nobility riding through their estates keeping the peasants in line.

This civil proceeding has defied much of what we normally expect. Poor, handicapped and uneducated people have come into the halls and challenged those who think of themselves as nobility (without having reflected on the responsibilities of that station).

The arbiter in this case, Judge Baynton, is now called upon to find resolution within a huge pile of evidence which has been duly tendered and numbered. He has promised to bring an even hand to his task; he has run a fair court room and given fair judgments so far. His Oct. 27 judgment has already been downloaded and read by many and is the subject of much discussion in the local legal community.

We await the outcome and hope for the best. But at this moment, on this day, November 13 2003, we take some pride in having participated in a worthwhile and successful endeavor. Hardly anyone thought we would get this far.


Final judgment