It’s a cold and snowy Monday morning. The notes, which led to my trial cancellation, have finally been disclosed. The blame game begins. There are only a few pages. They say what I thought they would say, but I can’t write about that yet. My lawyer can’t speak to my criminal matter here in town today because he is busy speaking to my civil matter in Toronto. I am on two dockets, in two different kinds of court, in two different parts of Ontario, at the same time.
I will have to speak to my own matter in criminal court. I checked the docket online and it did not look busy, so I won’t have to show up early for a parking spot. I’ve got this down to a science now. I have some very specific instructions from my lawyer, to set dates for my pre-trial and trial. None of my lawyer’s available days will work for my pretrial. My matter is stood down, so I can propose some other dates to my lawyer by phone.
There is a little office downstairs in the courthouse. It is a room with expectations of privacy, but little guarantee. Most days, it is for Family Mediation but when I am there, it is my self-proclaimed office. Over the years, I have done a lot of work in this little room. From family court, to small claims and even a private prosecution, this room is very often the final stop along the way for all my documents before they get officially filed with the court. I always go into this room anxious, but leave empowered. I go here to call my lawyer. I know he is in court, speaking to my other matter but I leave a voicemail anyway. Then I call my lawyer’s secretary, to check his availability on these other days, suggested by the Judge. We find a date that will work, and I head back to court room two, where my matter is waiting.
The pretrial is scheduled for Dec. 19, 2017. The Judge tells me that I will be required to be there as well. There is a discussion between the Crown and Judge about bringing in another Judge from outside my community, to preside exclusively over my trial. They tell me that the trial dates cannot be set until they find one. I thank them for their time and go on my way.
In civil court, a motion by the plaintiff to exclude me as a defendant in a 75-million-dollar class-action lawsuit is heard today. The other defendant, has different plans which halt the motion. Things are getting interesting as my lawyer explains Anti-SLAPP legislation to me while we update each other by phone. It doesn’t matter how hard they kick and scream at this point. Justice is coming.
Meet me under the bridge. Anyone who grew up in Smiths Falls knows exactly which bridge I’m talking about. That first time you explored the town, at whatever age your parents finally permitted you to roam alone, you came here and climbed the railing or ran across the frozen canal to the other side.
Every year, you can see the footprints in the snow and think you should try it, or you murmur under your breath, “idiots.” I know you’ve been here. You heard parts of conversations, as people walk by above, unware of how much their voice echoed below. You wonder where exactly that camera is pointed and imagine where its blind spots must be. Maybe at an older age, you exchanged some goods and services here, constantly looking up to make sure no one was coming. You maybe had your first drink here. Maybe your second and third too. You stumbled down the path and rested a moment before scaling the stairs back above ground. You smoked here. You shared here. Maybe you hid from cops here. You learned the sounds of foot steps coming your way and car doors closing in the nearby parking lots. It was the perfect spot, out of sight with no road access and beside the water where incriminating things can be easily tossed. Maybe you found friendship or love here. Maybe you reflected on life here. You always came here looking for something and you always left here a little more grown up.
Then you did grow up. You came back here and it looks the same. You walk your children through here. You learn how to explain the giant water elevator for boats is here. There’s no Facebook or Twitter handle for this place but it’s the most familiar spot in town to locals. It keeps our secrets, shares our dreams and all you need to say is, “Meet me under the bridge.”