âAuthor's note: This is part eleven of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
I get there at 9am. Itâs not nearly as busy as it would be if it were a Monday. Maybe Iâll be out of here quick. I see the usual faces, court staff and officers. One court officer now has a handlebar mustache. It looks ridiculous but I canât help staring. Iâm in courtroom two. In front of me, the handlebar mustache officer is talking to the court recorder about metal roofing options. Behind me some people are talking about their charges and how grateful they were that they didnât text someoneâs phone. Itâs two different worlds, behind and in front of the wooden divider that separates the lawyers and judges from the rest of the public.
When the Judge arrives, they begin. They start with a sentencing hearing. Itâs another DUI. The Judge reads out the details of the case and trial. It takes nearly an hour to get through it. Counsel for the defence raises an objection near the end. Something about informing the Crown that he would have to prove the record. Some case law is quoted, then the Judge calls for a recess.
Now itâs 10am. I go for a smoke and stretch my legs. I get back to the courtroom around 10:15am. I spend the next 45 minutes looking aimlessly around. Shortly before 11am, the Crown turns and tells me he will try to speak to my matter as soon as possible. I wonder if he reads my blog. He has that look like, âplease donât write about how well I twerk, again.â I know from my disclosure that the complainant has sent many of my blog posts to the Crown.
Now itâs 11am. The Judge walks in and starts to summarize the previous case again. The matter ends up being stayed till later that day. Now they go on to adjournments and judicial pre-trials.
Itâs just after noon. Iâm still listening to all these cases. They all involve drugs or alcohol. I do find the legal process interesting and am a keen observer. When I was in college, we had an assignment to observe a court proceeding. I did mine in this very same courtroom. I keep thinking back to that, making similar observations in my head. Now itâs 12:15pm. The Crown brings my matter up. He says he has had many meetings with my lawyer over the past week. He says everything is set and ready for the trial. The Judge addresses me. She says my next court appearance will be Aug 8, 2017, for the beginning of my trial. I thank the Judge and go on my way. I finally have my date with justice, and we are going all the way.
“Cheque day” is the only day of the month that rules some families and is completely irrelevant or unknown to others. If you don’t count the days till cheque day, consider yourself very, very fortunate.
For those not in the know, cheque day is when social assistance payments go out. This can be either through the province’s welfare (which means safety and well-being) program, Ontario Works, or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP.) These “cheques” go out at the end of the month, although nowadays most people will receive their payments through direct deposit into their bank account.
The term “cheque day” is completely taboo in the middle-class world. It’s an invisible rule to never, ever admit that you might be on some form of income assistance and that you may need help. I’m writing today to shatter this concept that you should be ashamed if you need help. With 43% of my town (Smiths Falls) living below the poverty line, I’m afraid “cheque day” culture may be hurting families in the community, stopping them from reaching out when in need.
Most people don’t aspire to live on the minimum payments income assistance provides. It’s not exactly a choice, but rather a lack of options that brings people to apply for help. Long gone are the days of steady, nine to five kind of work days. Now, instead you’ll find a plethora of part-time, contract, temporary basis, at obscure hours of the day kind of low-paying jobs that may not always cover rent.
Then there is situational poverty. You get hurt on the job and two years later your disability insurance runs out, before you’ve recovered and you can’t return to work anyways because your employer now considers you a liability. Or you get cancer, and survive. There are so many ways we can lose it all that it’s not so much a matter of if, but when.
Cheque day culture is all around us, for those who care to notice. From the end of the month, long grocery store lineups, to the dramatic decrease in school milk orders when the fourth Tuesday payment date, is not the last business day of the month. More alarming signs, like bare, sold-out shelves in the baby aisle occurring on cheque day, exist. Just imagine how many babies went without something the day before.
It is not a bad thing to need and ask for help, but rather a good thing we live in a community that can offer it. We pay taxes for things like fixing the roads, to keep people safe. Social welfare programs are designed for the same reason, to keep people safe. We perpetuate stigma when we adhere so closely to the invisible rules of our social classes, when we hide or make excuses for not having money until cheque day out of fear of getting the dreaded “look.” It’s time to break those rules. It’s time to start talking, shamelessly. No one should ever be afraid to ask for help and no one should ever shame someone for asking.
Author's Note:This is part ten of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
You got to get there about a half hour early, if you want a parking spot. If you want a comfortable spot to sit and wait, I imagine you must have to be one of the first ones in line when the court house doors unlock. I always stand and wait in front of the windows. I have the same debate every time just a few minutes before it starts. Do I or don’t I have time for one last cigarette? I always seem to find the time. I know I’ll have to wait in the court room at least an hour because my lawyer is not here and I will be speaking on my own behalf again. Small price to pay to save nearly a thousand dollars just for him to do what I’m more than capable of handling myself. We are ready to proceed. It really is that simple.
The trial confirmation report should be faxed in by my lawyer this morning. I go to the criminal court services desk and ask if they’ve received it. They haven’t, but they tell me it may have been faxed to duty counsel in which case it will already be upstairs, in the court room. I thank the court clerk for her time.
The court room door unlocks just before 9:30am. There are only a few people here today. I see the Crown and sit directly behind him, in the front row of seats. I ask him if he has the report yet. He tells me he does not. I tell him it should have been emailed to him and that we are still ready to proceed. He affirmingly nods.
“All rise. Court is now in session.”
A few minutes later the Crown whips out his computer. I notice my lawyer’s office logo on his screen. I can’t make out what it says but I know it’s the report. Relief. I’ve come to learn that just about any excuse can halt the entire legal machine, but I trust my lawyer and it always pays off. A few minutes later the Crown turns around and tells me he has it.
I listen to just about every other matter before my name comes up. First the retained lawyers speak, then duty counsel for the unrepresented. There are a lot of DUI’s today, almost exclusively. Everyone has pleaded guilty and is sentenced. When this occurs, a synopsis of the case is read by the Crown and then the Judge asks the defendants how they plea. It takes about an hour and a half to get through them all. Then the court clerk looks at me. She says the trial of Kelley Denham is set to be confirmed today, but she says it in the form of a question. I stand up immediately. The Crown hands over the report, but the Judge already has a copy.
The Crown says that they are almost ready but that they are still waiting on the report of two expert witnesses. He says they will be done by the end of the month. The matter is stayed until then, June 30th. The trial dates are still being held for now, Aug. 8th to the 18th. I thank the Judge and go on my way. I’m not surprised at all. It’s the same old song dance and that Crown sure knows how to twerk it.
Author's Note:This is part nine of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
It feels like a movie sometimes, but it’s happening in real life. My life. I’m facing ten years in jail and a $75-million dollar lawsuit and I’m not even allowed to write about it, on the internet anyways. I’ve been pretty clear to all these lawyers that I intend to tell the entire truth. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only option. But everything legal is a process and it could take months or years before I get to do that. I was supposed to confirm my criminal trial date last Monday, but the Crown isn’t ready so it’s been adjourned for a week. If the Crown isn’t ready then, the Judge won’t hold the date. I’m cautiously optimistic that won’t be the case. They’ve already subpoenaed the witnesses after all. I can’t imagine they’d be too thrilled if the date changes. I am prepared, I am ready and I am eager.
While that alone is enough for one person’s plate, I also have four beautiful children to take care of. I have school events, soccer practices and appointments that keep me very visible in the community. Sometimes I get “the look.” I had no idea there was even a look like this to be given until my arrest last August. Some people just stare and the reframing part of me just has to laugh it off. Some will greet me while I’m out and about and I just pretend like I didn’t read all the nasty stuff they wrote about me.
But, for the most part, the community has been decent. On the days that I’m not in court or getting served legal documents, life goes on as usual, minus the occasional acquaintances that seem to be trying to incriminate me in literally anything. I still go to work, I still volunteer and I am still very open to anyone who wants to ask me about the case. I’m not the one with anything to hide.
So, as I finish writing this blog, I am getting ready to pick my kids up from school and we are having a birthday party for two of them tonight. I spent the day preparing for it, making sure everything will be perfect for them. My name should also be on the online docket when I get back, so I will be able to check out which court room I’m in on Monday and how busy it will be. This is my life for the next little while, but I’ve gotten pretty good at just rolling with it.