When my narrative last left off, I had finally arrived!
It seemed like a miracle, but, despite my bumbling and probably due to more luck than skill, I had found Courtroom #36 where the hearing of the appeal of the Richard Warman vs. the Free Dominion folks, Connie and Mark Fournier and their users, was being held. There were none of the throngs of reporters I had expected – perhaps their quest in finding this well-concealed hearing was less successful than mine.
After exchanging greetings with Mark and Connie, as well as Guy Piorier (a blog reader who also came to lend his support to the Fourniers), it was time to get oriented a little.
I was there in time – he courtroom was still locked! The hearing had been scheduled for 10:00 o’clock. So far, so good.
So, how much time was there before things got going? A quick glance at the clock just to the left of the courtroom door said it was…. 10:34.
Ah – it was showing ‘real time’! Not the ‘we-stole-an-hour-from-you-and-you-can’t-do-anything-about-it’ time! OK – let’s get that adrenalin back under control….
10:45 – as the clock read: a huddle of black robes just outside the courtroom door. Yup – the door is still locked.
The air is positively crackling with anxious anticipation!
10:50 – as the clock read: doors opened and the lawyers – plus whom I presume to have been a support person to one of their ‘groups’ – and all the waiting spectators enter Courtroom #36.
Stepping into the courtroom was like taking a step backwards in time. By about an hour. The clock inside was set to the Daylight Savings Time.
OK – I am new at this ‘on the grounds, reporting’ thing, but, I seem to recollect that I am to give as many facts as I will have managed to collect. Here, then, is the full and complete list of spectators who entered the courtroom: Mark Fournier, Connie Fournier, Guy Poirier, David Fewer and, well, yours truly. Yes. That is it. In total.
Instead of fighting for a seat with throngs of other spectators, as was my fear, I now had a different dilemma with respect to finding a seat. Do I sit on the bride’s side, or the groom’s side?
Is referring to the sides as ‘bride’s’ and ‘groom’s’ disrespectful to the court?
That box in the middle – that is ‘the prisoners’ box’ and, apparently, it is disrespectful to refer to it as ‘the penalty box’. I know, because I asked.
Things did work themselves out. There were 3 sections of seats: one on each side and one in the middle, right behind the prisoners’ box. Mr. Fewer took a seat on the left (all the ‘side’ references I’ll make are as if you were to stand with the ‘main’ door immediately behind your back), towards the front. The young woman whom I presume to have been a support person to the ‘Warman’ lawyers sat a few rows behind him.
I followed Connie and Mark towards the front right, where we shared a row, while Mr. Poirier sat right behind us.
The lawyers resolved themselves into seats at a long table immediately in front of the prisoners’ box, with their backs to us, spectators. Their 6 chairs were facing forward, divided in the middle by a lectern they would speak from when making their submissions to the court (I think that is the proper term – if not, please excuse me….the sum of my ‘legal experience’ is watching ‘Jurisprudence’ on TV, so these are all strictly the observations of a legal amateur).
Immediately in front of the lawyers’ table, and slightly raised, was the Clerk’s table – he sat facing us. At the left side of the Clerk’s table sat another person.
10:02:10 – a deep hush descended on the courtroom. The atmosphere was so thick, you could not just ‘cut it with a knife’ – you could chip at it with an ice-pick! The only thing we could hear was the distant heartbeat of high-heeled pumps, drumming purposefully through the corridors of justice…
10:05:15 – another spectator wafted in. A young blond woman in a gray pantsuit, high-heeled pumps and a perplexing demeanour. She sat in the very middle of the ‘spectator area’, which took up roughly 2/3 of the area of the room.
I called her demeanour perplexing, and, to me, it was. It was not so much what she did – but how she did it. She sat there. Very, very deliberately, she avoided all eye-contact, looking either directly ahead or at her very nice shoes. If my shoes were that nice, I’d probably spend considerable time looking at them, too – but she did not look like she had the industrial dose of OCD that I do, so that is probably not saying much.
Perhaps she had a tooth-ache. She would come in at the last moment, then rush off, at the start of each break, so nobody could say hi to her (I would have liked to have). But, I am getting ahead of myself!
10:05:45 – announced and ushered in by the bailiff (who looked nothing like Bull Shannon), the 3 judges who would be hearing this appeal entered the courtroom.
They did look very official (in a good way). They wore black lawyers’ robes, but with a crisp, bright red sashes t top the off.
Upon taking their seats, the judge in the centre went over some correspondence from an appellant from a case that was put before the Fournier one, but where the appellant had mistakenly showed up the day before the proper date (perhaps the appellant got help form the information kiosk), so they agreed to hold that hearing over till the 10th of October, 2010.
At this point, the person sitting at the side of the Clerk’s table was excused.
Next, the judges invited everyone to introduce themselves….but, that shall be then next instalment in my report. And, as the real, serious stuff is about to start, I’ll try to minimize injecting humour to relieve the tension of this truly important legal event.