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Liveblogging the O’Brien trial: The defence rests – eventually. (We hope.)


 

As promised/threatened, ITQ will be back in Courtroom 36 this morning for closing arguments.  The show gets underway at 9:30 a.m. — yes, that’s half an hour earlier than usual, but Michael Edelson practically pinky swore that he’d be able to finish up today if we started bright and early, in which case it will totally be worth it. Not that we’re not enjoying The Trial of Terry Kilrea, but brevity, as they say, is the soul of wit. (Why do lawyers never seem to believe ITQ when she says that?)

As usual, you can get all the latest news from the Ottawa Citizen and CBC Ottawa, and be sure to follow Colleague McGregor’s twitterfeed.  (For yesterday’s liveblog, click here, and ITQ’s full coverage is available in convenient reverse chronological order here.)

9:20:44 AM
Greetings, fellow masochists! I’m currently sitting outside the courtroom – on the floor, in fact – powering up the BlackBerry on the only outlet available, which is conveniently located right by the elevators – listening to a bevy of O’Brien trial regulars chat about either a) the summer television season or b) how fantastic the mayor is; it’s honestly nearly impossible to tell which. The courtroom is still locked, but as soon as it opens up, I’ll be heading inside to stake out a spot near a more sensibly located power supply. (And yes, I should really remember to recharge overnight — in every sense of the word — but sometimes, I get flaky.)

9:28:20 AM
And we’re in! In what has become known as Bloggers’ Row, in fact — which means me and Colleague McGregor, who is currently on a tirade about hashtags and the O’Brien trial. Short version: Hell to the no – his twitter name *is* his hashtag. In case anyone was wondering.

9:36:17 AM
And we’re off to the races!

Michael Edelson picks up – well, pretty much where he left off, on page 42 of — the affidavit, maybe? Unlike Oliphant, they don’t hand deliver copies of every piece of evidence to the media contingent. Anyway, it’s the conversation wherein Kilrea claims that O’Brien told him he was “in the queue” for an appointment, and much is made of the shifting verb tenses — at one point, Kilrea apparently suggests that O’Brien told him he *would be* in the queue, which is different from being *in* it. In his notes, however, it looks like he was to talk to “JB” about *getting* in the queue. “He would be telling Baird something, not requesting it,” Edelson argues.

And now, off to the cross-examination, in which he – Kilrea – agrees that the “in the queue” phrase was used for the first time during that phone conversation — but there wasn’t just one call; there was a two minute conversation – Kilrea from his home to O’Brien on his cell – and then a call back from O’Brien, and – am I liveblogging phone logs? It appears I am. I think the gist of this is that Terry Kilrea’s memory is about as dependable as Fred Doucet’s, but I’ll let you know if it takes a surprise twist.

9:47:48 AM
On to the email to Baird, in which – as per Kilrea – he asked if Baird was aware that his name was in the queue for the parole board gig. Hey, In The Queue has the same initials as ITQ! Neato.

Btw, does anyone out there really think that John Baird would actually hand out a patronage plum to a distant acquaintence just because he claimed that a wanna-be mayoral candidate set it all up? Because honestly, I don’t — not that it matters, as far as this particular case goes.

Anyway, in his affidavit, Kilrea talks about the email – and yes, there’s nothing more riveting as listening to Michael Edelson talk about someone else’s testimony on his email, I can tell you, but this is *important*, darn it. Edelson points out that Hutchinson claims these emails back up Kilrea’s version of events — but if O’Brien was the set-up guy, why didn’t Kilrea keep him informed on the progress of the appointment? Aha! Case — oh, never mind. Instead, Kilrea – who claimed he had to talk to his wife and his campaign team before making any decision – did none of that, and didn’t tell O’Brien about his dealings with Baird.

9:56:51 AM
Oooh, it’s time for the “dramatic contradiction” – which is, apparently, that Kilrea told Baird he *wasn’t interested* in an appointment — and, according to his subsequent statements, he was just trying to see if Baird was part of the shadowy conspiracy of big- and small-C Conservatives trying to manoeuvre him out of the race. This, despite the fact that he told *O’Brien* that the only job he was qualified to fill was the parole board gig. (That, and mayor of Ottawa, Colleague McGregor likes to point out.)

This dovetails nicely with his previous conspiracy theorizing that the provincial Liberals were trying to push him out of the race. They haven’t build the local campaign that can hold Terry Kilrea back! I’m sorry, I think I’m getting punchy, and it’s not even lunch.

10:02:41 AM
If O’Brien asked Kilrea to “let him know” what happened with Baird, why didn’t Kilrea tell him that Baird didn’t seem to know anything about it? The only rationale that Kilrea offers for *not* copying O’Brien on his email to Baird is that he was trying to see if he was part of the plot against him – but he copied O’Brien on all of his email related to the Attorney General. Huh. That *is* odd. He also told Hutchinson that there were *further emails* to Baird on that same day — but Hutchinson never asked him what *those* emails were about. Luckily, Edelson was able to ask him, and Kilrea —– “didn’t know, and wasn’t able to recall”. DUH-duh. That’s par for the Kilrea course, Edelson argues — he only remembers the bits that fit his ‘script’.

10:13:52 AM
More on the back and forth between Kilrea and Baird – who, according to Edelson, seemed to be totally out of the loop as far as any appointment in the queue. Also, if there were vacancies on the board, why would he *have* to go in the queue — and why would he be fifth on the list?

Oh! The *MAG* issue is the Ministry of the Attorney General! Not in a thousand years would I have guessed that. Is it actually referred to as such in Ontario? I figured they’d just call it the AG, like we do. (We being Ottawa; as an Ottawan, ITQ frequently forgets that she is also an Ontarian, and she probably can’t name five current cabinet ministers. Provinces are things that happen to other people..)

Anyway, Edelson is still weaving his way through the email chain. The judge seems to be following along obediently, although you can’t see his eyes from here, and they may well have glazed over completely. Edelson, however, wants him to realize that the “I screwed up” story is actually backed up by the email to – O’Brien? Baird? This is a tricky line of argument to follow without the email itself.

10:22:17 AM
I’m pretty sure Edelson just threw in a “ratfuck” reference just to keep our attention. Good for him. Oh, we’re now onto a “breathtaking” claim from Kilrea — it’s related to his dismissal from the Attorney General, which Kilrea apparently confused with his vacation — seriously? — according to an email he sent, which follows — slightly paraphrased: “This weekend was a living hell. Hope you’re well.” Just a wee bit passive aggressive.

Anyway, this all has to do with the Attorney General, and Chiarelli and the Liberals and possibly the Freemasons and the reverse vampires, but very little to do with O’Brien or the parole board, Edelson asserts. “It’s not for us to solve the problem,” he reminds the judge – it’s the Crown that has to put forward a story that sticks; the defence just has to point out the utter inconsistency of the facts versus the email.

10:29:40 AM
Well, we’ve made it to August – hurray! – and, as Edelson points out, by this point, it is *Kilrea* who initiates all contact with O’Brien about meeting. How, he wonders, does this demonstrate that the “offer remained on the table” — if Kilrea never once communicates with O’Brien for three weeks, and doesn’t tell him about his email interaction with Baird?

The “screwed up” call, Edelson is going to “leave with Your Honour”, although – no, he’s not, actually – not until he points out that the conversation “doesn’t make any sense”, since O’Brien didn’t have any knowledge of contact between Kilrea and Baird. Why didn’t Kilrea sent a “Larry, what’s going on? Baird knows nothing about this appointment!” email — in fact, his actions are those of someone “going it alone.” On crossexamination, he “flounders under the illogicity” of his claims. Okay, that phrase made the morning worthwhile — remind me to borrow it during committee sometime.

10:36:36 AM
Kilrea “puts words into O’Brien’s mouth”, Edelson avers, suggesting that Kilrea claimed O’Brien told him that “John would be pissed off”. When Edelson confronted him over that claim, noting that it wasn’t in the statement or the affidavit, Kilrea “waffled”, as per Edelson, who is now reliving what he sees as the greatest moments of his cross-examination of Kilrea, which, by all accounts, was one for the local legal history books. Also, is that John Baird or John Reynolds? I’m assuming Baird, but you have to wonder if that might not be a possible confusifying factor.

Did I mention the Ruths are back? They have *notebooks* — three-ring paper notebooks, not laptops — and highlighter pens, with which they lovingly record Edelson’s bon mots.

Also, I no longer believe Edelson when he says he’s going to “leave” something with the judge. There’s always a Columboesque “one more thing”, although it never seems to result in the mystery being solved and the credits starting to roll.

10:45:39 AM
We’ve now gotten to the infamous lunch with Pollster Dimitri, during which Kilrea “came on like gangbusters”, as per PD, but then started talking about other career options, and what he planned to do next. According to Kilrea, PD told him to “go see Baird” — even though O’Brien had told him – Kilrea – that it was “a mistake” to suggest he speak to Baird in the first place.

10:49:39 AM
Oh, that’s right — I actually liveblogged Pollster Dimitri, and *he* says he asked Kilrea if there was anyone he could talk to about, you know, what to do with the rest of his mayoral-campaign-losing life, and Kilrea mentioned Baird, so he suggested he do that. Which is perfectly innocent and not at all corroboratory of Kilrea’s claims. So there.

I wonder if he’s going to address Lisa MacLeod’s testimony.

10:53:43 AM
Oh, the Tim Horton’s meeting — which was either in July or August, I’m not sure which, and Edelson is *really* not helping by jumping all over the place. I understand that he’s pointing out inconsistencies in Kilrea’s various statements, but it’s awfully difficult to keep track. (I’m not the only one; I can see various colleagues squinting with the effort of working it out in their respective heads.)

10:58:14 AM
(I concur with Colleague McGregor that it would be an *excellent* time for a break. Sadly, Edelson does not seem to agree — he’s still going strong, and usually, it’s the lawyer who brings these matters up first.)

More additions to and deletions from the affidavit – an appointment that apparently had nothing to do with leaving the race, and – wait, are previous drafts of affidavits always made available to opposing counsel at trial? Aren’t those the sorts of things that are covered by solicitor-client privilege?

Right, back to Edelson, and more phone calls and meetings that had nothing to do with the parole board offer, despite the fact that by the time the Tim Horton’s meeting happened, it was only about “the assets” — the website and the mailing list.

Hurray! Recess! Back in twenty minutes.

11:16:12 AM
Do you think people would take journalists more seriously if we were robed? It looks like such a timesaving outfit. Also, if anyone is following the *other* ongoing ITQ investigation – about Diane Ablonczy possibly losing her biggest tourism fund because she gave money to Toronto Pride – I have not yet heard back from PMO, but as someone pointed out, they may be a little bit busy with the G8 and all that stuff. Still, you’d think it would be easy to clear up a simple misunderstanding. I’ll keep y’all posted – here, and in the original post.

11:26:31 AM
Aaaaaand … we’re back in session, and Edelson is going to make a few comments on the “integrity” of the emails, starting with JJJJ – or ‘quadruple J’, as Edelson puts it. There was, as per Edelson, manipulation of the hard drive by Tim Tierney – you remember him, the apparently overzealous webmaster who ran the runawaytrain.ca (or possibly .com) site for Kilrea.

According to Edelson, Tierney was warned not to monkey around with the hard drive, but he did, or at least Edelson claims that he did, “for reasons unknown”, manipulated files central to the case. There’s also a “whole scenario” about “how they got to Dimmock” that he’ll get to later – oh boy – but he just wants to put that whole bit of business back on the record for the judge.

11:31:43 AM
Okay, we’re back to the alleged possible dismissal – Kilrea’s, that is – and a press release related to the AG, which went out to, not surprisingly, the press. Kilrea was “spinning” this as a Liberal conspiracy — as opposed to a liberal conspiracy, just so we’re clear — and this led to his own lawyer disagreeing with him on what the letter from the AG actually said.

There was also a “Frank Magazine-like reference” to the Liberals, which seems to a synonym for “archly sarcastic”, in this case. Anyway, in order to glean some insight into Kilrea’s thinking, he’s going to explore this letter in more detail, mostly to demonstrate how the letter from the Attorney General *in no way threatened him with dismissal*. The only thing it did was suggest that he *could* be in a conflict of interest. Otherwise, all it did was tell him that he had to fill out a form.

11:45:50 AM
Edelson is laying it on extra thick, with frosting, even — Kilrea totally misinterpreted the letter from the AG in every possible way, and then proceeded to try to use it to his political advantage. Even the judge – this judge – intervened during cross-examination to point out to Kilrea that there was nothing in the letter than advised him that he would be dismissed. Wait, so the judge already knows all this stuff? Why are we spending so much time on it, then?

You know you’re a creature of Parliament, by the way, when your reaction upon hearing the word “liar” is to wonder why the judge doesn’t the person speaking out of order. “One wonders what other lies he’s capable of,” Edelson thunders. This whole thing reminds him of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists, he says, which makes me suddenly love him a little, because I *adore* Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists. Anthropologically speaking, that is.

11:56:53 AM
Edelson points out that Kilrea – this “serious” politician, as Hutchinson would have it – ran for every office going, and could give John Turmel a run for his Guiness Book of World Record holding money, as far as consecutive losses. Federal, provincial, municipal – you name it – and yet he thought O’Brien could get him a federal appointment just based on his name and occupation?

Kilrea even tried to apply for a position on a housing authority, and was “pissed off” that they hadn’t responded to his request — even though he was in the business of evicting people living in that same housing complex.

12:02:03 PM
Oh my goodness, Michael Edelson has finally – at least for the moment – stopped talking about Terry Kilrea in order to fill us in on the sinister side of John Light, ostensibly neutral witness with no axe to grind, who was – we are told – actually a high ranking official with the Kilrea campaign — in the “dirty tricks” department, no less. ! ! ! Seriously, Kilrea had a dirty tricks unit? I — have no further to comment on that, because giggling distracts me from the arguments, and that would be a shame.

Apparently, there were all sorts of ridiculous shenanigans ongoing within Kamp Kilrea – with Light, and Terry “Not just a Webmaster” Tierney. Emails are read into the record, including Edelson’s dramatic interpretation of the words “heh heh heh”. At one point, someone suggests that Light is like their very own local Doug Finley — his words, not mine — and the whole thing is so insanely ridiculous that I can barely pay attention, especially when Light gloats over “shutting up the chattering classes” by getting a press release in the Hill Times. Oh, John Light worked for Pierre Poilievre — thank you for that reminder, counsel.

12:13:32 PM
Finally, Edelson moves onto Lisa MacLeod’s statement – which he wants to “examine” against the “landscape” so far. By August, he notes, the issue of the appointment was “off the table”, and there had been no further discussion about it. Why did O’Brien not tell Kilrea not to talk to Baird, since he had already confessed that he had “screwed up”? That, he says, is the background to the MacLeod testimony, but he wants the evidence of — wait, how did we end up at the PMO appointment screening process? Did I fall asleep? Shall I go now?

12:16:30 PM
Ahh, okay – what, Edelson wonders, would have been the point of mentioning it to Lisa MacLeod *then*, when it “wasn’t even on the horizon”? O’Brien never claimed to have influence with Baird, so what was the basis for talking to MacLeod – and what did he *really* say? Once again, Edelson accuses Hutchinson – nicely, but still – of “cherrypicking” evidence; to wit, his “slip” in mentioning the parole board, specifically, before she did.

The judge pops up at this point, and reminds him that although Hutchinson acknowledged that he may have “slipped”, it came out later in cross-examination. Edelson is very carefully stepping around the central point – which was that MacLeod heard someone say that *someone* was “talking to Terry” about an appointment.

According to Edelson, she also said she had some recollection that Doug Finley was involved, although she wasn’t sure if O’Brien was talking to “Terry”, or the reverse, or any details about what the appointment was, or if this was a reference to past events. She agreed that it *may* have been O’Brien “relating a narrative of past events”. Wouldn’t those events still potentially be against the law, if an offer *was* made? I mean, are there takesey-backsies when it comes to that sort of thing? If you steal a car, and then return it the next day with a note saying how sorry you are, you could still be arrested for theft. Sorry, I’m rambling, but you’re not missing much; Edelson is just doing his best to suggest that MacLeod couldn’t be sure of the context without going after her with nearly the same level of vitriol as he did Kilrea, Light and Tierney.

12:26:40 PM
John Reynolds, everybody! No, not *here* — but we’ve made it to his testimony, as far as Edelson’s recap. Reynolds, Edelson reminds us all, tells everyone the same thing — you have to file an application, put in a resume, and comply with the Federal Accountability Act in every way. That’s exactly what O’Brien said he – Reynolds – told him. Wait, when? Oh, when he was trying to find out what the process was, I guess.

“Reynolds just sloughed it off,” according to O’Brien — he was getting thousands of messages a day, so he could easily have forgotten a quick call from his old pal Larry. O’Brien even suggested that the police speak to Reynolds — would he do that if the call had never taken place? “No one could have helped him” – Kilrea, that is — he had to get through the screening process first.

12:31:31 PM
More evidence that tilts against Terry Kilrea — yes, there is *more* — which sounds suspiciously like padding, since seems to cover the same ground that has already been labouriously tilled over the course of his close. (I may have to miss a few minutes before the break, as I have an appointment — to the parole board! Wait, no, that’s not right. I do have a thing, though – at 1pm – so I’m going to slip out a little bit earlier. Don’t worry, Colleague McGregor has you twittercovered, and I’ll be back this afternoon.

12:35:10 PM
There is the “public and private Terry,” Edelson notes — the Terry who posed with a shotgun and his rural supporters, the Terry who — did something else, I guess. There was the ‘vicious’ exchange between Tierney, Kilrea and the rural landowners lobby, who, when the latter endorsed O’Brien, reacted with a “fuck them”. Sorry for the profanity, but these local politicians are like sailors with Tourettes, if this case is anything to go by.

“He’s a meanspirited hypocrite,” Edelson concludes. Concludes that *portion* of his argument, that is — not his argument in its entirety. He’s also “disingenuous, devious, deceptive, underhanded” and “circuituous”. Someone has been hitting the thesaurus! Are all closing arguments like this? Hutchinson may claim that he’s not Prince Machiavelli, but Kilrea is “dumb like a fox”.

On to the Dimmock files. Hurray! What? I want to hear more salacious email excerpts. Kilrea “shopped the story to the Sun” first — but the story was killed by the editors, possibly because he had *denied* that there were any “enticements or offers” when asked by Sun reporter Sue Sherring.

But he “clearly” knew Dimmock from an earlier email exchange, and sought *him* out, rather than city politics reporter Jake Rupert, because Dimmock was a “clean slate”. The Sun wouldn’t touch him, because they *knew* he’d already denied it, Edelson says, but Dimmock was willing to talk. Meanwhile, Kilrea was “revelling” in his imminent fame, and boasting about the Dimmock stories, which would “blow up” Ottawa.

Okay, on that annoyingly dramatic note, ITQ has to flee for a bit. I’ll be back for the afternoon session for sure, but check Glen for updates in the meantime.

12:53:10 PM
Arggghh – *just* as I was sneaking out the door, Chris Froggatt – who made it to ITQ last week as the star of a thoroughly confusing subplot related to the allegedly imminent senior staff shuffle – got a shoutout from Edelson – something about the initial reaction from Baird’s office. I’ll have to check Glen’s twitterage when I get the chance. See y’all later this afternoon!

2:05:47 PM
And we’re back in session! Sorry about the lack of lunchbreak updates — it’s been a crazy day, y’all. The Ablonczy story just gets odder by the minute, but that’s not why you’re here, is it? You want to know what you missed during those last ten minutes before the break, and what’s happening in Courtroom 36 right this minute, don’t you?

To answer your last (imaginary, admittedly) question first: Edelson is banging on about exculpatory evidence, as it relates to — oh, what else? — Terry Kilrea’s credibility. I know, it’s like we never left. As for the last bit of the morning session, there was a bit more backstory on the Dimmock/Kilrea connection, particularly with regard to the former getting his hands on certain emails from the Tierney-ized hard drive.

2:12:15 PM
Edelson’s main complaint seems to be that the Crown only relies on statements by Kilrea that help its case, and not exculpatory testimony. (If I’ve gotten that wrong, I’m sure someone will let me know.)

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, after Edelson wraps up, Hutchinson gets the chance to rebut, and then Edelson rebuts the rebuttal, and at that point, I *think* it’s really, truly over, because honestly, that sort of back and forth could go on til the end of time.

2:17:33 PM
O’Brien believed he had “more credibility” than Kilrea — Kilrea would say he was in, then tell him he didn’t have the money — and would talk about “all the things he was interested in”, like the Runaway Train site, which was “catchy”. He also had a list of volunteers — three or four thousand “on the ground” who would “follow his every command”. O’Brien told the police that he didn’t recall telling Kilrea that his “team” would reimburse him for his costs — he never agreed to pay him $30,000. No number was fixed; O’Brien just didn’t want to tell him he was “full of it” at their very first meeting. That, Edelson says, “resonates as true”.

2:24:46 PM
We know, Edelson says, that Kilrea is a person “who comes up with misapprehensions and conclusions”. I’ll be honest — I’m honestly not sure what Edelson is doing here, other than reading long excerpts from O’Brien’s interview with the police. Maybe he figures this is the next best thing to actually putting his client on the stand. Anyway, he also wants to point out that all of this is backed up by Kilrea’s own testimony.

2:33:09 PM
O’Brien never phoned or emailed Baird, and admitted that he “didn’t know him very well” before saying a number of things that, as per Kilrea, “we know are true”: that Kilrea knew Baird better than he, that he – Kilrea – was “very well connected” within the Conservative Party – with “Mr. Polev” and others. Note to non-Hill-types: it’s “PWA-li-ev-rh”. You’re welcome.

2:41:44 PM
I’m not sure if anyone can figure out what Edelson is trying to accomplish here, other than eat up a whole bunch of time and get vast portions of O’Brien’s interview in the record.

2:48:11 PM
Edelson really, really likes ‘scenarios’ – he’s on about “the McKenney Scenario” now, but there’ve been several others. He’s also repeating the same points he made this morning, which is why ITQ is sparing you all by not re-liveblogging it. Once is quite enough.

2:52:08 PM
Okay, it sounds like Edelson is coming to some sort of conclusion — he’s hitting all his main points, and addressing the judge more directly, noting that “at the end of the day”, there is “ample reasonable doubt”, which should result in an acquittal.

And – he’s done! But don’t get excited; Hutchison still has one more chance to win over the judge, although he says he won’t go much longer than twenty minutes or so.

2:54:44 PM
Hutchinson begins his rebuttal by pointing out that, as far as Edelson’s contention on Kilrea’s credibility goes, most of the examples that he gave were related to perjurors, which isn’t the case here. He ‘has no quarrel’ with the judge scrutinizing Kilrea’s testimony carefully — he didn’t even interrupt during the longest cross-examination in the history of ever — but as far as the question of whose idea it was in the first place, the only instance in which it would make a difference would be if *Kilrea* brought up the idea of a parole board appointment, and O’Brien rejected it out of hand, which no one – I think – is claiming is what happened.

As for influence, it can refer to “cooperation and assistant”, and “door-opening” is included.

3:04:30 PM
Hutchinson breezes through the litany of inconsistencies so thoroughly turned inside out by Edelson, and makes the same argument as in his initial submission — these are mostly minor details that any reasonable person might forget, and the fact that he’s a bit hazy actually enhances his credibility, since that’s how normal people would respond when asked about events from months or years earlier.

Oh, and there was *no* tampering of the emails, according to Hutchinson – none whatsoever.

3:13:49 PM
Hutchinson got the judge to talk! I don’t know whether that’s something lawyers aspire to, or dread during closing arguments. Anyway, it had something to do with the email from Kilrea to O’Brien that suggested the former would call “John”, and to be honest, I’m not sure what the issue was; it seems to have something to do with whether or not it was implausible for Kilrea to contact Baird instead of O’Brien.
3:15:45 PM
That’s it for Hutchinson — and apparently, for Edelson as well. We may be about to be released on our own recognizance. Whee!
The judge addresses the court and – after thanking counsel – he moves to the delicate matter of the calendar. It sounds like he has a pretty full schedule, but he’ll have a decision on Wednesday, August 12th, and if that works for everyone — it looks like it does — we’ll be back here on that date — at 10am sharp.

Wow. So — that’s it? Huh. Lots of handshaking by the lawyers. The Ruths don’t seem to know what to do with themselves — that, or they’re waiting for the mayor to finish gladhanding at the front of the courtroom. I think it’s the latter.

That was fun, wasn’t it? I’m going to head back to the Hill to try to catch up on the rest of the world. Til later — much earlier than August 12, though. Promise.


 

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