Thursday, April 21, 2016

DDD - Duffy's Date with Destiny, But Who's That Sitting Beside Him in the Prisoner's Dock?

                                 Scorecard:   Aquitted: 31, Convicted: 0

Mike Duffy isn't the only Conservative on trial today. With him in the prisoner's dock are Stephen Harper, Nigel Wright and the cast and crew of Harper's PMO.

From the conflicting evidence given during the six-week trial, it was obvious that somebody was telling the truth and somebody, or a lot of somebodies, were, shall we say, less than truthful.  We've already got a hint how that's likely to play out. That came when the presiding judge, Justice Charles Vaillancourt, found the Cavendish Cottager to have been an "overall credible witness."

The judge also pointed out that on a number of charges the Crown chose not to lead evidence or even cross-examine Duffy which means that, left uncontradicted, Duffy's account stands.

What I'm waiting for is the point at which Justice Vaillancourt gets to the hand grenade in the story - Benjamin Perrin, former counsel to the Harper PMO and Harper's personal lawyer. Among other things, Perrin testified that it was clear what Nigel Wright's "good to go" email meant - that Stephen Harper had approved Wright's 90K payment to Duffy. With that bit of evidence, Perrin not only contradicted Nigel Wright but also the evidence of Harper's sockpuppet/valet, Ray Novak.

You may recall that, during the election campaign, Perrin made it known just what he thought of Stephen Harper when he issued a blunt statement that the prime minister and "lost the moral authority to govern."

It's Perrin's evidence that defines this entire prosecution, not as a run of the mill criminal case, but as a political show trial aimed at transforming Duffy into Harper's sacrificial goat.

Duffy may still be convicted for funneling Senate monies to his disabled pal. That might explain why judge Vaillancourt described him as an overall credible witness.

UPDATE - well, that's it then. 31 acquittals, straight across the board. The most impressive aspect to that is the rarity of it. Who gets charged with 31-crimes and gets found not guilty on every last count? But this judge, Vaillancourt, went further than that. Time and again he found nothing wrong in Duffy's conduct. That's not an acquittal. It's exoneration.

This raises the question that won't go away. When there was no blameworthy conduct, nothing approaching criminal conduct, in so many of these charges, whose idea was it to lay the charges? Why did the Crown even proceed? Who was pushing this all along? Yeah, you're right.

What now? There's a dandy tort anchored in the ancient Common Law, the tort of "malicious prosecution." A 31 to zero acquittal outcome certainly establishes a prima facie case of malicious prosecution. Not even one conviction? None?

And who will be the defendants? Stephen Harper, Nigel Wright, Ray Novak, LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen, Hamilton? Probably.  Ooh, we might finally get to see Stephen Harper being cross-examined under oath.

Sweet dreams.


Dana said...

Refresh my memory: can a sitting MP be prosecuted?

Northern PoV said...

Just reposting my comment from a before:

"Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. "

Not guilty on all charges. Alas. But just a low life grifter ... the real crooks (Nigel and Stephen) not even charged.

Gloating aside ....We already convicted Harpo - too bad he gets to avoid Del Mastro's fate.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Dana. Yes, they sure can be charged. There has been considerable disagreement whether a parliamentarian, especially a prime minister, can be subpoenaed to testify while Parliament is sitting.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ NPov - I think your view is widely shared. I'm not so sure that Duffy won't be convicted on one or two of the 'raiding the petty cash' offences. We'll see. The Globe is reporting he's been acquitted on the first dozen charges but the court ordinarily leaves the convictions to the end.

Northern PoV said...

Come on ... I'm out on a limb here, with so much at stake ;-)

Twitter is really good for these live situations: the judge is following the sequence of charges and everything he says points to further acquittals.

Either way: Judge finds Harper & PMO
GUILTY (as (not) charged) LOL

Owen Gray said...

As I write, Duffy has been acquitted of 20 charges. Even if he's found guilty of a couple of charges, it's clear that this trial was a pile on. Justice had nothing to do with the exercise.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Owen & NPoV - remember, it's usual for judges to deal with the acquittals first, leaving the convictions to the end. Don't read too much into the early verdicts.

That said, it is very unusual for a judge to confront a 31-count indictment of any defendant. Usually the Crown picks the most important charges with the highest likelihood of conviction and ditches the rest.

What has the judge seen during this trial? He's seen many accounts simply abandoned by the Crown. In some the Crown actually led no evidence. In several the Crown didn't even cross-examine Duffy. That means that Duffy's account stands.

This bizarre conduct has to give Vaillancourt pause. There's a message in this. The Crown brought these charges not because it intended to pursue them but for a collateral purpose, a political persecution. This creates the appearance of a political show trial which is an abuse of the judicial system.

I'm convinced it's open to Justice Vaillancourt to declare the trial an abuse of process, vexatious, brought for improper political purposes. Will he go that far? Probably not. Could he? I think so.

That's why this initial floor-sweeping isn't too important. It's how Vaillancourt takes out the trash at the end that should be the most interesting.

Northern PoV said...

You may be right regarding most judges and how they deliver their verdicts.
(So fun to argue with you ... over nothing.)

In this case he is following the exact sequence (1,2,3 ... 20) of the charges.

The immaculate bribery charge was the most bizarre thing we peons have seen in a long time (29,30 31). With the dismissal of charges 1 & 2 (the residence expenses) there is not even a single thread to make the bribery stick.

It seems no one unduly benefitted from the weird contracting Duffy did, so I say those are out the door too.

As you suggest, I don't think the judge will be explicit but surely he has already delivered guilty verdict to Harper & his thugs in the PMO.

Northern PoV said...

Pretty explicit eh Mound ...
"Judge says the emails show a political and covert operation that is both mind boggling and shocking"
" a complete repudiation of Harper's PMO. And the judge is just warming up! I'm starting to forget who is on trial."
"Judge on PMO machinations: "could Hollywood match such creativity?" "

I am waiting here (to post my final prediction-gloat) for the last 3 verdicts....
Not guilty on 29.... 30... 31 counts ... in that order!