Friday, 22 January 2016

A FULL REPORT: Linda Gibbons found guilty but released with "time served"

Linda and Mary Burnie, shortly after her release
At about 10:10 a.m., Linda Gibbons was brought into Courtroom 504 in Vanier "greens", handcuffed. She smiled, but looked a bit fatigued. It had been the usual two hour, rush hour ride from Vanier on the outskirts of Toronto into downtown Toronto in a Police services van. This time, the heat was left on for the prisoners. Linda was joined by twelve supporters this morning in court. 

At 10:32, the Judge, Mavin Wong, read her statement regarding whether or not  Section 127.1. of the criminal code been violated; that is, disobeying a court order - in this case - the 1999 bubble zone injunction against manifesting any opposition to abortion within a certain distance of given free-standing abortion "clinics".  

Wong began by stating that Linda was an "anti-abortionist", a "dedicated protestor" who was "opposed to legal abortion, sanctioned by law".  Wong stated that Justice Trotter's previous ruling was a "useful template" for her ruling in this particular case, whether Linda had broken the law pertaining to the court order regarding what Wong called the "permanent" injunction.

Wong conceded that Linda's "peaceful leaf letting" did not "intimidate" according to Justice Trotter's ruling. But, she added that she had a different opinion based on the evidence before the court, as submitted by two employees of the abortion killing factory, as well as security guard Joe Coletti's testimony about Linda's comments made to women entering the abortuary.

Wong began to relate some of the testimony of two employees of the Hillsdale murder factory. Wong related that abortion employee, Sarah Workman, had claimed patients were "upset, "disturbed" and had to be "escorted into a small room", when Linda was seen to be outside gently walking to and fro with her little placard. Trial testimony was that it was a busy day, with ten (10), abortion scheduled! 

Another employee, Michelle Hohenberger, had testified that she called security and "urged everyone to stay calm", and that her office work was "interrupted". She then took a number of photos of Linda. 

Wong related that she found the testimony of these two abortion employees "honest, credible and reliable". Wong stated that Workman's claim she was "violated" was reasonable. Wong claimed that this case was "substantially different" from Justice Trotter's ruling; that there was unchallenged evidence that Linda spoke to mothers entering the abortion mill, that Linda was seeking to dissuade women from obtaining an abortion. She opined that Linda should take her street protest to Yonge and Bloor instead, then "we would not be here", she concluded. 

Wong basing her judgment on the testimony of the abortion employees, stated that Linda had a "negative impact" on the clinic, on its functioning, and then she diverted to an old Morgentaler case from the 1990s, where it was claimed that "anti-abortion protestors have a history of being openly aggressive and violent"! Wong concluded that  the "evidence and legal issues [are] completely different" to Justice Trotter's ruling when he found Linda innocent. 

Linda was therefore found guilty "without lawful excuse" of violating the bubble zone law; Wong's focused on several remarks that Linda made to mothers entering the killing factory as further evidence of intimidation. Crown attorney, Daniel Brandes, needed to present Linda's "prior record" before sentencing, hence a twenty minute recess was called. 

Court resumed at 11:20 a.m. The printed judgement complete and Brandes submitting Linda's previous "criminal" record, he then spoke of the clinic's "intense frustration" and that Linda had been "offending for a long time".  Brandeis said her "behaviour is constant and concerted and has been going on for many years". 

He asked for the maximum of six months. Pre-trail credit was given and since Linda had served 141 days, her actual total (given she refused bail) was 211 days, over the maximum sentence. Brandeis then asked for a probation order of two years to be imposed on Linda, to "keep it simple".  Brandes added: "she has a constitutional right to voice her opinion, but the Crown cannot condone her breech of a valid court order". 

Brandes, diverting from the issue of abortion and the bubble zone, effectively moved the issue to a probationary one. He conceded this. In a future trial it would be "cut and dry as it can be for the Crown...make it easier in the future for the Crown to bring the evidence of her wrong doing". Linda's attorney, Mr. Dan Santoro stated that "probation is superfluous", that he could not agree to the terms as suggested by Brandes; Linda's arrest and incarceration was a "political protest case". 

Unfortunately, but predictably, Wong agreed and imposed a two year probation banning Linda from being within 50 meters of a "free standing abortion clinic". 

Linda was shortly afterwards released. It was 11:37 a.m. She was met by her most dear friend Mrs. Mary Burnie, a great and humble servant of the unborn. Linda then embraced her supporters and had a light brunch, before retrieving her belongings and mail from Vanier. The very long and exhaustive day finally ended just before 5 p.m as Linda arrived safely home. 

God bless you Linda! We love you! 

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