Patronage: It's like a stimulas package for democracy: Liveblogging the O'Brien trial (PM session) - Macleans.ca

Patronage: It’s like a stimulas package for democracy: Liveblogging the O’Brien trial (PM session)

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The fun starts up again at around 2 p.m.

In the meantime, go here for ITQ’s liveblog of this morning’s proceedings.

1:35:46 PM
Welcome, fans of unexpected motions for directed verdicts – or, at least, the liveblogging thereof! Events took a dramatic turn this morning – dramatic, at least, compared to the endless lines of questioning about what date so-and-so had lunch at the Metropolitan with someone else – when Team Larry shocked the courtroom – really, not just the occasionally-surprised-by-the-obvious ITQ – by giving notice that they’d be filing a motion for a directed verdict arguing that even if the Crown *did* prove its case beyond a reaonable doubt, the judge should nevertheless acquit, because the anti-corruption laws were never meant to cover patronage appointments, which are an essential tool that keeps our democracy flourishing like a rose. Check the liveblog for the morning session for all the details – oh, and before I forget, my apologies to David Pacioccio, the lawyer (and university professor) who made the case for the putative DV, and is not, in fact, Michael Edelson, as originally reported by ITQ. What can I say – they really *do* all look alike from the back and in robes.

Anyway, now you’re all caught up – so check back at 2:15 for the next thrilling installment.

2:03:24 PM
Well, I’m back in the courtroom — early, of course, since you never know when there might be a sudden flood of onlookers, and a corresponding shortage of seats. So far, though, it’s just me, Colleague McG, a random member of the public stuck between us who is becoming visibly unsettled by our chatter, and various Larryistas.

Wait, as usual, as I was typing, the landscape changed, and suddenly the room filled up completely. Such is the plight of the liveblogger; wait too long to hit “update post” and you fall hopelessly behind the times.

2:09:37 PM
And we’re back!

Hutchinson grudgingly accepts Team Larry’s proposal to hold the matter over, although grudgingly, and with concerns, which he is going to articulate, don’t you think he won’t.

Anyway, his main sticking point is the defence plan to call witnesses on the directed verdict motion – it’s not just unusual, he suggests; it’s not allowed. Is he going to be permitted to call his own witnesses – like, say, John Baird, to discuss “integrity in government” (Attention: John Baird – I may get to liveblog you after all!). He doesn’t think it will be terribly difficult to navigate his argument, but this whole profferring evidence thing – well, that’s just not on. Or at least, he thinks it shouldn’t be on.

He’s ready to come back Monday to argue the main issue, though. That’s the bottom line.

2:13:22 PM
The judge points out that he doesn’t know whether he needs expert evidence to make up his mind on the motion, but agrees that can be dealt with during arguments. As for the argument that “reward” means “profit”, he wonders if the Crown has any reason why that argument can’t be made, and it sounds as though he doesn’t, but he’s ready to argue the other side.

2:15:33 PM
As far as Hutchinson is concerned, as long as he can prove that the meeting happened on July 12th, a discussion happened, and there was an agreement in place through August 6th, he can make his case, and the law should apply. He’s a bit snarky about the submission from the expert witness – who is, infuriatingly, still unnamed – and says that he’s relieved it only goes back to colonial times, and not pre-Cambrian corruption laws.

Eventually, the judge agrees that we should all meet back here next Monday to argue the motion.

2:18:00 PM
Caciocco isn’t going to let that snipe at his evidence go unreturned; he explains to the judge the need to give the “social context” on the law, and sneaks in some of the arguments we’re likely to hear next week, as far as what the drafters of the legislation meant. The judge looks impassive, but Caciocco is florid in defence of his submission. Every bit of information contained within is important.

2:15:33 PM
As far as Hutchinson is concerned, as long as he can prove that the meeting happened on July 12th, a discussion happened, and there was an agreement in place through August 6th, he can make his case, and the law should apply. He’s a bit snarky about the submission from the expert witness – who is, infuriatingly, still unnamed – and says that he’s relieved it only goes back to colonial times, and not pre-Cambrian corruption laws.

Eventually, the judge agrees that we should all meet back here next Monday to argue the motion.

2:18:00 PM
Caciocco isn’t going to let that snipe at his evidence go unreturned; he explains to the judge the need to give the “social context” on the law, and sneaks in some of the arguments we’re likely to hear next week, as far as what the drafters of the legislation meant. The judge looks impassive, but Caciocco is florid in defence of his submission. Every bit of information contained within is important.

2:21:25 PM
“We need not to amplify the record of the adjudicated,” Caciocco says, somewhat cryptically. He goes on for a time about previous court decisions – remember, Team Larry claims both the Ontario and Supreme courts are on their side – and notes that we can’t have a system where there is one rule for Mr. O’Brien, and another for Members of Parliament who cross the floor for a cabinet post.

Gosh, what could he possibly be thinking?

That’s enough for the judge; he nods politely, and adjourns the court til next Monday. Will ITQ be there? I guess we’ll find out, huh? As long as there’s no imminent election showdown, though, I don’t see why not. You have to love it, though – ITQ shows up, and a debate over the very nature of patronage breaks out.

Anyway, I’m going to head to the Hill to see what those crazy kids are up to. Til we meet again, adieu!