Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Lorna Pardy (right) exits the BCHRT Hearing with partner Eda Ertan. Salam and Sam Ismail are visible in the background. Image copyright 2010 Bulletproofcourier.
The trial has ended a day early. Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday April 9 at 2pm.
Stay tuned here for ongoing updates, I still have some great stuff to post: testimony from the last witness, a complete video tour of the BCHRT facilities (including religious art on the walls), photographs of Hearing Room #4, and my reflections about taking part in this truly Canadian experience.
Comedian Nic Roy. Watch him on YouTube
Comedian Nic Roy was the highlight of the day, appearing before the Tribunal with a pair of Canadian flag sunglasses dangling from his shirt. Speaking with plain honesty and unabashed candour, he recalled how Pardy & girlfriend first came to his attention:
Roy: They were making out when I was onstage, and that's pretty much it. I mentioned something about it - don't recall the detail - but they didn't get upset. When Guy took the stage, they were making out again and he got angry and then the insults started going back and forth. It stopped being a comedy show, it got awkward, Guy Earle was just being offensive, he wasn't being funny. He pretty much acted like Michael Richards, so to speak, but instead of nigger, he used the word dyke. Also asshole, piece of shit, little dick, fuck you, fuck yourself, you're a piece of shit.
Ismail: Did you get paid?
Roy: No, a couple drinks I guess.
Ismail: You were a volunteer?
Roy: Yes, I'd been going there every week for awhile to practice and do comedy.
Ismail: Was Salam doing you a favour, doing the local comedians a favor?
Roy: Yes, yes he was.
Ismail: Did you notice any water...
Roy: Yes, twice. After the second time he got angry and broke the sunglasses. They were just as aggressive as he was. I didn't see any scare tactics, any fear.
Cousineau: You heard what Guy called the complainants?
Roy: Dykes, cunts, bitches, whores.
Cousineau: Was this a major incident in your life?
Roy: [sarcastically] Yeah, I keep having nightmares and I wake up in cold sweats… I've been drinking every day since then.
[laughter in Hearing room]
Mr. Roy is excused.
Comedian Grant Espaniel. Watch him on YouTube
After Marlo Franson was excused, Sam Ismail called Grant Espaniel. He was present at Zesty's when the incident happened and the crux of his testimony was this:
"As a comedian, I wanted to go over to the table and apologize for what happened. So I did, but Pardy wasn't frightened of Guy, just angry. She said she wanted to break her beer bottle and stab him in the neck with it."
Ismail: "Stab him in the neck?"
Espaniel: "Yes. She said she wanted to break the beer bottle on the edge of the table and stick it in his neck."
Pardy's lawyer let this doozy go unchallenged, other than asking - and getting agreement from - Espaniel that his memory of that night is a little fuzzy.
Comedian Marlo Franson. Watch him on YouTube
Marlo Franson testimony con't:
Ismail: What happened next?
Franson: Guy introduced the next comedian, and as he walked by table 3 - I saw it very clearly, as I was in eye contact with him the whole time - water splashed from [Pardy's] table. He didn't stop at their table. He walked by me, appearing wet and dumbfounded. There was no physical threat from Guy Earl, only the verbal exchange.
Ismail: Do you think that Guy Earle is homophobic?
Franson: I'd known him since late January  and hadn't seen anything that indicates that.
Ismail: What was the behavior of Pardy after?
Franson: They were not distressed, or scared for their lives. I approached the table and asked if they were OK and they seemed OK, maybe just a little shocked about the sunglasses.
Cousineau: Have you spoken to Mr. Ismail about your testimony today?
Cousineau: Have you heard anything about the witnesses that already testified?
Franson: No, other than something I read in the province, they quoted her.
Cousineau: Do you remember specifically if Guy Earle used the word "dyke" or "cunt"?
Franson: If you want an idea of the comments, there's a YouTube video, you're going to have to watch it.
Cousineau: But do you remember?
Franson: It's there, on the video. I remember watching it a few times thinking "yeah, that's exactly what he said." But I'm not here to confirm or deny what anyone said.
Geiger-Adams: Mr. Franson, as a witness you must tell the Tribunal what you remember, and if not, tell us so.
Cousineau: What do you remember?
Franson: [slightly raised voice] I remember it was something, but not what exactly, so I'm not going to deny or confirm what words he used. This is not a high priority thing for me. My mind is busy.
Cousineau: Were they yelling at the stage?
Franson: They and Guy Earle were engaged in a back-and-forth game of insults, with lots of profanity being used on both sides.
GA: How did the arrangement come about that you would perform that night?
Franson: Guy Earle had told me about the open-mic Tuesdays at the restaurant. After 4 weeks observing, I went onstage.
GA: And how do you do that, how exactly do you get on stage?
Franson: Arrive early and request to perform.
Ishmail: Were you compensated in any way for your performance?
Franson: No, there was no compensation either way.
Ismail: So it was an open mic night?"
Franson: Yes. Both amateurs and professionals performed.
Cousineau: And Guy Earle was the MC?
Franson: Yes, every Tuesday.
.....coming next: What Pardy wanted to do with a beer bottle.
9am start today.
Geiger-Adams represents the Tribunal, Pardy and Cousineau for the complainant, Sam and Salam Ishmail for the respondent. Quite a difference from the media circus on day one. Only three people in the gallery so far: two members of the media and Pardy's girlfriend Eda Ertan, who moved to sit beside me when I opened up my laptop. Hi Eda, nice knee-high leather boots!
Sam Ismail calls witness Nick Dacosta. He does not know Pardy. Was working the lunch shift at Zesty's the day following the incident when Pardy entered and confronted Salam.
DaCosta: "I was working the lunch shift and the plaintiff came in. I greeted her and she went straight for Salam who was on the phone at the bar. She seemed quite angry and stared at him until he finished. From there, she was saying she was angry about what happened the night before. Salam was willing to work with her, he understood that she was upset, he offered to pay for the sunglasses. He apologized for the behaviour of Guy and was trying to figure out, to solve the situation. She kept pushing, she wasn't satisfied with the glasses being replaced."
Ismail: "What did she want?
DaCosta: "She didn't say, she just kept saying what are you gonna do about it?"
Ismail: "What happened after that?"
DaCosta: "The conversation got pretty heated, Salam went on the offensive. On Commercial Drive there's a lot people trying to rip you off. He didn't know what she was after or what to do about it. She got quite angry and started yelling that Zesty's was a bad place and not to eat there. There were maybe 3 tables of patrons inside who heard. She then went outside and Salam wanted to follow her, to call the police. I held him back. It seemed she was trying to get him to do something. She was outside, yelling, walking down the sidewalk, saying things about the place."
Ismail: "Did she say that Zesty's supports violence against women?"
Geiger-Adams interjects, warns Ismail about 'leading the witness: Please rephrase the question.
Ismail: "Do you remember what she said when she was walking down the sidewalk?
DeCosta: "yes, I vaguely remember. The whole incident took maybe 5, 10 minutes most."
Cousineau: "You agree this happened a long time ago, was it a major incident in your life"?
DeCosta: "No, it was kind of a typical day on Commercial drive."
Cousineau: "Would you agree your recollection is somewhat vague?"
DeCosta: "Not totally vague, but somewhat. "
Cousineau: "How many times did she yell zesty's was a bad place?"
DeCosta: "3 times maybe."
Cousineau: "And what was she yelling outside the restaurant"?
DeCosta: "I don't recall."
Witness is excused.
Ismail calls Marlo Franson to testify. He's a comedian who performed that night and witnessed what happened.
Franson: "I remember when they came in. They came and sat [in front], both of them facing the stage."
Ismail: "Did they appear drunk when they came in?
Franson: "They were loud, they were talking and ordering some drinks."
Ismail: "Were they interfering with the show?"
Franson: "Sometimes it happens during a comedy show, a group of people come in, a bit noisy, but usually they settle down. They were being very affectionate with each other. Sitting close to each other, toughing each other, and making out.
Ismail: "It was not a kiss on the cheek?
Franson: "No. And Guy did not appreciate them kissing in front of him, he said "No one wants to watch two ugly lesbians kiss." The two ladies at the table were not appreciative of that comment, they started directing comments back toward the stage, at Earl. It was hard for me to hear what they said, but I heard several swear words and they went back and forth with the insults."
Ismail: "What happened next?
………find out later, stay tuned!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
It's definitely a form of artistic expression. As long as the BC Human Rights Tribunal is accepting YouTube videos as Hearing evidence (seriously!), Sam & Salam Ismail (owner of Zesty's restaurant) should introduce this exhibit of great moments in heckling history (maybe not that last one though).
Comedy great George Carlin:
Brendan Burns: (Wow, this runs parallel to the Guy Earle Trial)
[UPDATE: Watch complete video tour of BCHRT facilities]
Cameras aren't allowed in the hearing room, so I drew this basic map to show what it looks like:
It's relatively small, about 10 metres by 10 metres, basically a re-purposed office boardroom. What's very odd is the placement of the observers' gallery, on the opposite side of the room from the door. Visitors arriving and leaving must walk behind the respondents, witness and complainants table while the hearing is underway. It's awkward and distracting, especially for the witness, who has people brushing by behind them while they're testifying. Seriously!
If the layout designer of this room was trying to achieve maximum inconvenience for everyone except the Tribunal chair, they succeeded. Why not put the gallery chairs by the door so visitors can enter and leave the room discreetly, without disturbing the hearing in progress?
Yesterday's events seem to have redoubled media interest in the case and I couldn't get a hearing seat today despite arriving early. Meantime, here's a recent roundup from the blogosphere: (more links welcome in comments)
BigCityLib: Guy Earle Wants to Play Martyr on the Cheap
Freedom Nation: Guy Earle's lawyer walks out of kangaroo court
Blazing Cat Fur: What movie is running in your head lady?
Jay Currie: That's some Catch that Catch 22
bmobmo: that's the way it is with comedy shows. there are no guarantees of laughs. sometimes the show just goes south.
Covenant Zone: Guy Earle "Trial" Part 3 - Lorna Pardy testifies
Monday, March 29, 2010
An editorial by blog writer BulletproofCourier
After witnessing Guy Earle's lawyer James Millar walking out of today's BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing in protest of an illegal proceeding...
...I find myself asking: Should I attend the Guy Earle trial tomorrow? Sure, I might have the next couple days free, but is it worth my time?
Reason not to attend:
Guy Earle's lawyer, James Millar, is right to walk out on the Tribunal: this hearing is an illegal proceeding that violates the basic tenets of Canadian law. Why lend it legitimacy by even being in the room?
Reason to attend:
Canadians need to be aware of how the BC Human Rights Tribunal operates, right or wrong. Especially if it's wrong.
Reason not to attend:
Tribunal chair "Mumbling Murray" is unpleasant, sometimes infuriating to watch. He behaves like a learning-disabled government robot: A low-talker, too busy typing into his laptop computer to make eye contact with anyone speaking to "him", the Tribunal. He just sits there typing (presumably a trial transcript, as he has no assistant, and the BCHRT isn't recording this hearing. WTF?) and not engaging his reasoning faculties. No spark in his eye, no variation in voice level, devoid of levity: Mumbling Murray rules the room like a corpse.
It seems like this case is already decided, and his job is to poker-face the hearing into a winning hand for the BCHRT. Seriously! Everyone in the room could smell it, even the seasoned reporters were heard snickering and muttering "oh my god" at the patent stupidity of some of Geiger-Adams' statements during today's hearing.
Reason to attend:
Gather more evidence for above hypothesis? I don't know, maybe you can tell me.
Shortly after Guy Earle's lawyers leave the hearing in protest (see previous post) Pardy is sworn in to testify. Sam & Salam Ismail from Zesty's restaurant are the only respondents left at the table. They smile grimly and scribble notes, both a little sweaty, aware they are way out of their league.
Pardy is 32 years old and works as a meteorological technician at Vancouver International Airport. She is five-foot eight inches tall and weighs 130 lbs. She is dressed conservatively in a long-sleeved rugby shirt with horizontal blue stripes and has no visible tattoos or face piercings. Her dark hair is cut to shoulder length. When she speaks, her voice is decidedly low.
Pardy says she suffers from PTSD stemming from the incident, and will later call a witness doctor to confirm it.
In a nutshell, Pardy claims she was not drunk and not heckling - "I finished one Corona and was halfway through another" - when the incident occurred. She says it was a beautiful day and her plan was to enjoy time with friends on the patio of Zesty's restaurant. She didn't know there was an open-mike comedy event taking place that night.
But when she and her friends moved to a table inside the restaurant, her girlfriend kissed her on the cheek, and that's what started Guy Earl going:
"Don't mind the inconsiderate dyke table that just walked in."As they interacted with the waitress about getting more drinks, Earle was annoyed by the distraction up front and went at them again:
"Do you have a strap-on? Are you going to go home and fuck her in the ass?"...At some point, Earle approached the table:
"Why do you have to be such a fucking cunt?"Pardy splashed a glass of water in his face and said "stay away from this table."
Several minutes later, Earle was again onstage in his role as MC for the open-mic comedy night. And he went after Pardy again.
At this point both parties' stories converge:
Also at this point, I felt I had enough material for the day, so I left and gave my seat to a fellow blogger. Take it from here, Covenant Zone!
[UPDATE: Watch video of James Millar's press conference in BCHRT hallway]
About an hour into the hearing, James Millar - lawyer for the absent Guy Earle - asked for a brief stand-down so he could telephone his client. When the hearing resumed, he addressed the Tribunal and said to chair Murray Geiger-Adams:
(transcribed from digital recording)
I'd like to stress... that I find it's difficult because of my obligation as a lawyer and my commitment to the courts, the tribunals. I've practiced for 30 years and never been in a situation quite like this...[unclear]A minute later, the hallway press briefing happened. Video in previous post.
You're not listening to me. You're not interested in what the Supreme Court of Canada has said, you're not interested in what the BC Supreme Court has said on this issue - [Geiger-Adams begins to interject but stops] - and I'm saying to you, that I'm put in this position, and you have put me in this position. You're proceeding illegally, I have to leave this proceeding because it is an illegal proceeding against the rule of law.
You can't wait to decide your jurisdiction, you can't put somebody through this for three years, go to the Supreme Court, not follow what the Supreme Court judge said, put this guy through it - put these people through it - for three years and not even make a decision concerning your own jurisdiction.
Talk about an abusive process, this is high-handed and I have to - I cannot consent to it, because my staying here would show the respect that I have for the Tribunal. But I would be consenting to what is an illegal process and as a lawyer I don't think that's a very good way to go. So I have to leave the proceedings. I do so regretfully, and I do so with the greatest respect for the Tribunal. And I look forward to the reasons of the telephone conference which will permit me to file...[unclear]
[putting on coat, leaving room]
I do so very regretfully. It's too bad you wouldn't listen.
Coming next: Lorna Pardy's testimony, her side of the story.
James Millar, representing Guy Earle at the hearing, addresses media after walking out of the hearing in protest:
Coming next, a word-for-word transcription of Millar's statements to the hearing chairperson before he vamoosed.
First news of the morning: It turns out the tribunal hasn't ruled on jurisdiction yet, but intends to hold the hearing now and rule on jurisdiction later.
James Millar to hearing chair Murray Geiger-Adams:
"This procedure is against the rule of law...I can't be part of an illegal proceeding...How can you proceed when jurisdiction is not settled?...I have to leave the proceedings...I do so very regretfully...It's too bad you wouldn't listen."
He then walked out and addressed a media scrum waiting in the hallway. Video soon.