There were to be two trials held on 12 December 2019 in Jasper where Monika Schaefer (this author) had being charged. The first matter came under the Criminal Code of Canada (CC) “causing a disturbance”, and the second was for a voluntary payment violation ticket for trespassing, which we opted to contest.
As seems to be common, the court list was very long. Court began at 10 am, the public gallery was full, and down the list they went. It was just after 4 pm when my name was finally called. Frank Frost, my representative, and I stepped forward. I half expected them to reschedule both matters. However the judge explained that both matters could not be tried on the same day, as one was federal and the other provincial, and so it was suggested we go ahead with the provincial matter. Both sides agreed. Thirty minutes had originally been scheduled for the trespassing charge, whereas two hours had been set for the CC charge.
Judge Shaigec apologized to Mychol Ormandy, the complainant of the disturbance charge, for having had to spend all day for naught. Ormandy and his witnesses were formally dismissed, but were free to remain as spectators – which they did.
A prosecution team of two, Mr. Rankin, and Ms. Van Tighem, were handling my cases together, Mr. Rankin speaking on this charge.
The whole case against me came down to the prosecutor’s argument that I did not leave the 3 Sheets shop quickly enough when asked to leave by the owner Sonja Dickey. Was it 2 minutes or was it 5 minutes?
The brief story is that I had been refused service once back in 2017, because Sonja did not like the material that I was photocopying. She did not want to serve someone “who hates”. Subsequent visits to the shop were friendly. Fast forward to January 31, 2019, not only was I refused service, but was told to leave. A few days later there was a telephone conversation with an RCMP member, that was all. He explained about trespassing. There were no charges, no investigation, no statement, no further action. Then on July 3rd I went back to that shop again, because I needed to quickly copy a price list for the fruit vendor for whom I was working, and other options were not immediately available. That visit did not go well and resulted in the trespass violation ticket being handed to me six weeks later.
Sonja took the stand first, and testified to the fact that she had not wanted to serve me after reading what I was copying, the book review of Gerard Menuhin’s book Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil. She said with gravity how Gerard Menuhin was the disgraced son of the famous Jewish violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and that Gerard Menuhin…
…denied the holocaust!!
After being asked the question by Mr. Frost whether she said she did not wish to serve someone “who hates”, she said yes she had said something to that effect.
When asked how long I had stayed in the shop, Sonja answered approximately 5 minutes. In my own testimony I had said I thought it was shorter than that, perhaps 2 or 3 minutes but nobody had a stop-watch. It was an estimation.
In answer to questions, I recounted my experiences in the 3 Sheets shop in great detail, including the early days in 2015 when Sonja first opened the shop, how supportive I was of her small family business.
The prosecutor asked many questions of me, and went on at length asking how long I stayed after being asked to leave, both on January 31st and on July 3rd. He went on and on about the time, was it 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and why did I stay at all after being asked to leave. I conceded that “I probably stayed longer than she wanted”, and he asked how did I know that. I replied that I reached that conclusion by the fact that she later called the police.
Great issue was made by Rankin with respect to my uttering a swear word not just once but three times in the shop. Sonja had said I called her “f***ing ridiculous, but I assured the court that I was talking about the situation. “It was f***ing ridiculous!” And so it was!
The prosecutor tried to make my testimony look shaky by taking issue with my phrase “In my recollection…” with which I began some of my answers. I assured him that I was answering all his questions to the best of my ability. I had, after all, reread my relevant journal entries before attending court.
Later I thought of a better answer that I wish I had given (isn’t that the way it goes…). But no matter, it was probably already clear to the judge that by definition, every single time we are answering a question about the past, we are, by definition, “recalling” events. The equivalent noun is “recollection”. Therefore it is completely accurate to say that we are recalling the past when we speak of the past. The phrase “in my recollection” does not impute judgement of how strong or weak or accurate or inaccurate the recollection is.
The most interesting part of the trial came when the prosecutor was giving his final statement. Judge Shaigec interrupted Mr. Rankin almost immediately to clarify the Trespass Act, and then the sparring match began!
The judge spoke of prior “notice” being required in order for a trespass to have occurred. I did, after all, leave peacefully and without having to be physically forced. 2 minutes or 5 minutes – is that what we were arguing here?
If I did not receive either written or verbal notice that I was not welcome in future to enter the shop, then I could not be expected to know that there was a life-long ban on me entering the shop.
The prosecutor was forced to concede that the January 31st incident had no bearing on the July 3rd incident. If that was the case, then why were we bickering about the 2 or 5 minute delay in my vacating the shop?
Rankin kept going, kept making arguments to the judge, and the judge kept on explaining things to him. It was as though we were witnessing school – a law class – where the student and professor were discussing how the law works. Rankin was clearly grasping at straws, and simply did not want to let it go!
Frank Frost was given the last word, and by this time, not much needed be said. My favourite line of the day was,
Well, I think the Prosecution made our case for us…
He added that this was nothing but a witch hunt.
There were many long faces in the public gallery when at the end of this nearly two hour(!) trial the judge pronounced the verdict NOT GUILTY.
For those people in Jasper who were mocking me about these upcoming trials, who were fully expecting this to be a slam-dunk conviction, this verdict will perhaps give them something to think about, perhaps also a little humility.