Dr. Baglow vs Freedom of Speech: September 18, 2014 – Part 1

This is a continuation of a prolonged court, the earlier bits of which are here:  Day 1 part 1 and part 2 , Day 2Day 3 and Day 4 part 1 and part 2 of this trial were covered in March, 2014 (write-ups by me at links).  Day 5 is more or less covered by days 6 and 7.…  Day 6 is here.  Day 7 part 1 is here – sorry about having had to chop this up into short little bits, it seems my original write up was too long for WordPress to format correctly… part 2 is here.

Dr. Baglow’s impression of my coverage of the court hearings, as per Twitter, is here.

September 15th, 2014 account is here.  Roger Smith presented his side of the story (defense) and was cross examined.

September 16th, 2014, was the second day of the trial phase where the defense gets to present their case.  Today was the day that, as Minister Jason Kenney referred to her, ‘the famous Connie Fournier’ took her place on the stand.

September 17th, 2014, the third day of this phase of the trial, the plaintiff’s lawyer finished his cross examination of Connie Fournier and Mark Fournier took the stand to both testify and be cross examined.

Today, the 18th of September, 2014, was a most tantalizingly interesting day in  court!!!  Today was the day that the court-appointed ‘internet expert’ was due to testify!!!

I must admit, I was terribly curious to meet this ‘political blogosphere expert’!!!

If you have been following my reporting on the legal encroachments on our unalienable freedom of speech for a while, you may note that over the years (!) of my observations in the courtrooms, this will have been the first time ever to hear ‘expert testimony’.

Exciting indeed!

So excited, I completely forgot to note down what shirt Roger Smith was wearing today – and as the days bled together, all I can swear to is that he wore tan slacks and a blue blazer (I could see those even from behind…).  My apologies.

Connie Fournier wore charcoal trousers with a narrow pinstripe, sensible square-toed shoes, a pretty tan blouse with bright red poppies and a matching blood red cardigan with shiny gold nautical-style buttons.  For jewelry, she wore a simple, elegant circle of tiny diamonds and pearls suspended on a golden chain.

She and I entered the courtroom a little early (the air was thick with expectations – you can’t blame us!), about 20 minutes before ten am when the court was due to reconvene.  Madam Court Clerk was already at her post, busily getting things ready for the day.  (We were back to the original Court Clerk – the same lady from the Spring who tried to persuade Dr. Baglow that he should like cats and who didn’t want to be blogged or Tweeted about.)

Our entry into the courtroom was an intolerable intrusion into these preparations.  Chastised, Connie and I took the hint and extramuralized velociotously.  This seemed to put Madam Clerk into a good mood, as later, she happily joked about tossing out somebody’s cigarettes and chattered about her background, both legal and pre-legal.  Mr. Frenkel turned on his boyish charm and Madam Court Clerk just melted!

Oh, yes – Mr. Frenkel from the CCLA was back in the courtroom and no longer stood in for by the nice young woman (I hope this is an OK turn of phrase).  He wore the traditional lawyer robes, but differed from the other lawyers present in that he wore very crisp gray pants, instead of the traditional black ones.  His youthful face was framed by glasses with serious, dark frames which added gravitas to his appearance.  He really is a brilliant young lawyer – a heavy hitter by any means of assessment!

Dr. Baglow sported a cream, opened necked shirt which contrasted strikingly with his black suit and his ubiquitous riding boots, also black, with adorable silver trimmings.  His watch was also silver, while the frames o his glasses looked to me a gun-metal coloured more than silver.  In the left lapel of his suit jacket, he wore a silver pin – perhaps some abstract maple leaf?  Dr. Baglow truly is a very handsome man, at the height of his strength.

The charismatic Mark Fournier wore his navy, pin-striped suit with a navy shirt.  His chiseled cheekbones were flushed with expectation and, when they thought nobody was looking, he and Connie held hands.  Sorry, ladies, this one is hopelessly in love with his wife!

Jeremy, a frequent spectator at these hearings, was back in the courtroom and everybody – on both sides of this lawsuit – was happy to see him.  Dr. Baglow even chatted with him shortly (they are both history buffs) and, I am afraid I must report that in the courtroom, Dr. Baglow used the ‘B’ word:  the one word which is still beyond the pale in the civilized parts of the Universe.  Luckily, the judge was not yet in and nobody else seemed to notice that word (or, perhaps, its signifacance)…

Now, Otawa is the Capital of Canada.

If it were up to Justin Trudeau, Ottawa would be the weed Capital of Canada.

As it is, our esteemed Mayor Watson and his eco policies have turned Ottawa into the ragweed Capital of Canada.

And, right now, we are at the height of the ragweed season.  Thus, everybody who has to speak for any length of time is struggling not to wheeze and cough all over the place.  This requires frequent sips of water and everyone is struggling to have a fresh supply of cough-suppressant candies, the consumption to which Madam Justice Polowing had excluded from the usual food/drink ban in the courtroom.

Which brings me to another little detail in the courtroom:  all the tables have an ample supply of silver carafes of water and everybody (well, the important people at the front of the room) has access to white styrofoam cups from which they can sip this water.

Except, of course, the judge.  She (or he, as it may happen) always has a classy tall glass filled with ice water on her high table!

This is yet another reminder of the status in the courtroom:  the ruler from on high gets the civilized glass cup, the courtiers up front (if you excuse the pun) get to sip the nectar from the styrofoam cups … and us peasants in the gallery don’t.

Interesting observation:  Dr. Baglow sits at the front table (which faces the Judge, the Court Clerk and Recorder and witness box) with his lawyer, while Mark Fournier, equally a participant in this, lets his lawyer represent him at the table and humbly sits in the spectator are with the rest of us peasants.  I have long wondered why this is so…and why this seems unquestioningly accepted by everyone, even when there was not enough room at the front table…

Oh, my – I’m rambling.  My apologies, my indulgent readers!  Let me get right down to the court expert!!!

The expert turns out to be none other than Dr. Greg Elmer.

A quick google search shows he is quite well known and respected, as you can see here (with a ‘roguish-grin’ picture), here, here and here.

Dr. Elmer looks to be in his early-to-mid forties, a competent, intelligent and gentle man.  His hair is cropped very short, according to the latest ‘almost bald’ style and his eyes are quick to smile, the rest of his face following quickly.  His handshake (yes, I introduced myself when he looked at me inquiringly as I looked him up-and-down and scribbled on my notepad (a new one, on sale at Staples – with red lines and a pretty shell-design in one corner – I am a sucker for stationery and have been, from my earliest childhood…and mid-September, one can get awesome deals on stationery!) furiously – so I thought I’d better say ‘Hi!’) was cool and confident.

His clothing was very dark and classy and blended harmoniously.  A black suit (and shoes and socks, of course), the shirt was a deep blackish-blue and his tie was ever so slightly brighter/warmer blackish-bluish-purple.  The overall effect was very pleasing and classy.

At the start of the day, Dr. Elmer looked a little apprehensive – as if he were not quite sure how all this was going to go down.  Don’t misunderstand me – he did not seem worried or scared  – just apprehensive and vigilant as intelligent people tend to be when they face a situation new to them:  trying to drink it all in and analyze it and do their best in a new situation.

Madam Justice Polowin breezed into Courtroom #20 at approximately 9 minutes after ten am and worked hard to put Dr. Elmer at ease.  (Madam Court Clerk recognized her footfall right away, as soon as the staccato of her high heels became audible, and alerted us to her coming from ‘behind the scenes’.)

She looked crisp and fresh – in her billowing black judges’ robe, crisp white collar, her look is accentuated by a red sash that marks her out as a judge.  And when I say ‘sash’ I mean a diagonal thing like ‘Miss America’ or ‘Miss Universe’ would wear – but red, substantial-woolen-looking and with no words on it.  Today, her look was accentuated by delicate pearl stud earrings instead of the earlier delicate gold ones.

Madam Justice Polowin seems to like Mr. Frenkel – who is from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which, in turn, is an impartial intervenor in this case – and she relies quite a bit on his advice.  No, not all the time, but the Judge seems to trust him, as he is not part of either side in this debate and so he can be more impartial, his only goal being a good and just legal precedent in Canada, with no financial or otherwise vested interest in one or the other party winning.  Plus he comes across as an incredibly intelligent man, wise beyond his years.

Thus, Madam Justice Polowin entrusted Mr. Frankel with the admin bits of entering Dr. Elmer’s CV and particulars of how he had been engaged to come to court into the record, then jumping through the necessary legal hoops of having him formally qualified as ‘a court expert’.  It started out slowly, but, once done, Madam Justice was pleased to tell Dr. Elmer that now, he can add to his CV that he is a qualified court expert (the exact wording of his ‘expertise’, as per Madam Polowin, was so convoluted only a real-life-lawyer could get it and I most certainly could not wrap my pen around it, but it was something like expert…blogosphere…social…media…communication…political…plus-plus-plus…).

The upshot of all this was that Dr. Elmer knows his stuff, is good in ‘new media’, internet, blogs, message boards etc. with special focus on politics and Canada.  He studied it, lives it, teaches it and researches all aspects of it.  He gets to be a TV ‘expert’ on it – plus he has published a lot, including in ‘peer reviewed’ thingies.

Big Dog!

The only bit about him I did not like was his casual use of the word ‘collaborative’/’collaborate’.  Where I come from, ‘collaborators’ are lined up against the wall and shot – and the ‘normalization’ of this word necessarily includes the normalization of the practice of ‘collaboration’…something that ought to be avoided by moral people everywhere….  Aside from this (and I know I am bucking the trend here – but I AM RIGHT), I liked this court expert a lot!

Aside:  Dr. Elmer testified that, ‘in collaboration with others’, he created a ‘scraper tool’ – a bit of technology that collects data about people from social media sites – my ‘NSA warnings’ went off on that….think ‘Person of Interest!’

The next bit of questions/answers (between Mr. Frankel, the Judge and Dr. Elmer) was about the specifics of this case.

Did Dr. Elmer look through the Free Dominion site and Dr. Dawg’s Blawg?

No, he did not – not specifically.  Because he thought it would have been prejudicial – so once notified, he avoided them, even if he was aware of them before.

The judge regretted that, a it limited her questioning to the ‘general’, not ‘specific’ bits….but agreed that for the optics, this was likely better.

A bit of back-and-forth, but, eventually, it all got worked out, Dr. Elmer’s report got accepted as evidence and ‘fact’ without needing to be read and all that kind of good stuff.  Which, in the legal order of things, brought us to the cross examination of the expert witness.

Mr. Burnet, the plaintiff’s lawyer, got the first crack at Dr. Elmer.

Now, I must qualify this:  as at mid-day every day for the next few months, I have an obligation – and so I had to leave at 5 to 10 minutes after 11 am.  I return to the courtroom as quickly as I can, but, it does mean that today, I only caught the beginning of Mr. Burnet’s cross examination, as well as all of Ms. Kulaszka’s (Mark Fournier’s lawyer) and Connie Fournier’s cross examinations.  For this, I do apologize – but, obligations do intrude on my ‘court time’! The best I can do is tell you, my dear readers, what I saw and heard.

Mr. Burnet started the cross examination ‘softly’, but got ‘tough’ rather quickly.  If I ‘got the drift’ of where he was going with his questions, it seemed to be about people being able to find things out about people who post opinions, etc., online.  As in, employers or potential employers often ‘google’ their employees or potential empoyees….can get into trouble, loose a job or not be offered one.

Dr. Elmer agreed – but in a qualified way.

As in, one can track if someone is tracking them online – but they would have to actively track it, have purchased metrics services, etc., which not everybody does.  Thus, some people may remain unaware of who searched them up on the interwebitudes and what they found – and may use the info.

As I absolutely had to leave, Mr. Burnet was just getting started on the Rehtaeh Parsons sad, sad story and trying to use her tragedy to ‘score points’ – something I found rather distasteful and a bit ‘cheap’.

[Edit:  I took out the last clumsy sentence, as it was speculative.]

 

 

 

 

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