Imagine, you have a family member experiencing dangerous psychiatric symptoms. Fearing for your safety and theirs, you call the police. You are then told you will be charged with mischief if you call again about this family member. Or let’s say you recently discovered that your apartment key unlocks several other units in your building. You go out one day and return to your home and notice some items missing. You call the police and report that you believe someone, who perhaps also discovered they had identical keys, entered your locked unit and removed these items. The responding officer then transports you to the hospital’s emergency room, for a psychiatric evaluation. An ambulance may or may not transport you to a Schedule One hospital where these psychiatric evaluations actually occur. The hospital in Smiths Falls does not have such designation under the Mental Health Act, according to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
These are just some of the stories about mental health experiences I have heard around town recently.
Mental health resources in Smiths Falls are in crisis. These agencies are overworked and underfunded, also reflective of the state of mental health services across the Province. People are suffering and cannot afford to wait for governments to decide they are a priority. Something needs to happen now. Someone needs to do something, now. We, as a community, need to fill the void right now. Besides these people and their families needlessly suffering, improper resources are also often diverted to help these overwhelmed mental health agencies cope with demand. Ambulance and emergency room visits tend to fill the gap, if not shelters in neighboring cities or some form of police custody.
Other cities and towns have implemented their own efforts to help people. I have worked in mental health in Ottawa for the last five years and have seen first-hand some of the measures the city has put in place to help those living with a mental health issue. One helpful resource I have seen in action, is the Ottawa Police Service’s Mental Health Unit. It is comprised of four police constables who work with the Ottawa Hospital to respond to calls for crisis involving mental health. These calls can then be diverted from using other resources not suited to helping those experiencing a mental health problem.
The Smiths Falls Police Service should consider having their own Mental Health Unit. We have a Community Service Officer, why not also have an officer trained to handle someone experiencing a mental health crisis. These officers would know and understand the Mental Health Act, outside of just its scope on the policing mandate. There are forms family members can access through the courts to help a loved one seek medical treatment. There are other agencies and processes that some may not know about. A Mental Health Unit within our own police department could act as a liaison between families and these services. Mental health resources in Ontario are a labyrinth of services that families sometimes just need help to navigate through. A designated first-responder that can handle such a call, 24/7, could take a crisis bound for danger and turn it into an opportunity to connect people to the resources they really need.
He comes with me this time. I go early, so I can meet him there. He does the same thing and we arrive at the exact same time. I give him my work and explain that’s just how I do things. He says he likes how I do things and that I’ve done really good work. We go into the court house and find out which courtroom I am in.
We go to courtroom two. They are finishing up drug treatment court. There are three cases being spoken to. For each case, someone reads out clean urine results. The judge finishes speaking to each case by saying,
“Praise, encouragement and a coffee card. Keep up the good work.” As the court clerk hands out the coffee card, the entire court applauses. Never in my life have I ever heard clapping in the courtroom. Then the court pages someone else. His urine was not clean. He withdraws from the program and is remanded back into custody.
Next is my matter. The Crown begins by requesting an adjournment. He explains that this is not the fault of either party as everything was done to ensure my matter was kept on track. He mentions a statement of agreed facts. We did not agree to his facts, which means he will have to prove his case. He says that because of this, he needs to call more witnesses. He says there are some problems with these witnesses. He says they need their notes, but are no longer in possession of them. He says he contacted the agency where these notes are kept and is unable to get a timeline as to when these notes will be ready for disclosure. He says he called a week later and they still couldn’t give him a timeline as to when these notes could be released. Apparently, they must be given to their lawyer for review, before they can hand them over to the Crown. He also mentions a multi-million-dollar civil suit. This is the reason for the adjournment.
My lawyer begins his submission. It seems intense. For a moment, it is like we’re having another judicial pre-trial right there on the spot. The adjournment is on consent and in a spirit of good faith, we also agree to waive the 18-month timeline for finishing trial in the Ontario Court of Justice. My lawyer also mentions this multi-million-dollar civil suit, which I am now a named defendant in as well.
My matter is put off until Sept. 11, 2017, for another judicial pre-trial. My trial, that was supposed to occur next week, is cancelled. I am facing ten years in jail and a 75 million-dollar class-action lawsuit and the thought of explaining everything to a Judge, civil and criminal, doesn’t even phase me. I am not the one swayed by legal ramifications or another court’s justice. I’ve got nothing to hide and only the truth to tell.
Posted on July 18, 2017 | Kelley Denham | Written on July 18, 2017
Smiths Falls Police
Author's Note:This is part twelve of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
“We get what we deserve,” the beginning line of one of my favorite songs. It’s about the only song I’ve listened to, over and over, since my arrest almost a year ago. It was one of my last online posts before turning myself in and being kept offline by a release condition for months. This song played in my head when they put me in the holding cells, over and over. Certain I was going to be in the cells until at least the next morning, this song kept me calm. It kept me grounded. Most importantly, it kept me quiet. I was released that day, but not before a two-hour interrogation. I remember tuning out Detective/Constable Rodcocker’s demeaning questions, when he explained what he would do to me if I was his wife.
“We get what we deserve.” I just kept singing to myself, over and over.
My commute to work takes about 45 minutes. I put this song on my car stereo for the entire drive. Every time it ends, I hit repeat and turn it up just a little bit louder. By the time I get to work, it’s as loud as it will go. Same for the commute home and any drive that will take over 3 minutes.
When I am waiting at the court house for my matter to come up, I hear this same song. It mesmerizes me. It makes me think of the series of events that led to my current circumstances. I reflect on the good, the bad and what the public doesn’t know yet. The song has a power over me, to reframe just about anything because we really do “get what we deserve.”
Justice is getting what we deserve. We all get justice, though it may not always be in the form of the judicial process. I’ve come to learn that those who engage in negative behaviour, live in a negative world. When your internal dialogue keeps telling you bad things, you are going to have a bad outlook on life. I’ve also come to learn that we can control that inner voice. We can tell ourselves good things and from that, we can feel good. Something as simple as a favorite tune can change your entire perspective.
We get what we deserve because we do it to ourselves. We all get justice because justice is about what is real. It’s not about punishing the guilty. It’s about revealing the truth and repairing the harm that comes from lying to ourselves and others. Justice is the truth and in the end, it always comes out. We do get what we deserve, inclusively.
The following story could not be verified and common themes emerge that may leave more questions than answers. Because this is only a blog, I’ve decided to publish this story anyways and let the public decide.
Two search warrants were executed on two homes in Smiths Falls, simultaneously. Six arrests are claimed to have been made, though no street value to items seized are publicized. I’ve been able to interview two of the parties, prompted by a loud conversation I over heard in the waiting area just outside the courtroom, by a third party. The third party declined to be interviewed.
The first party I interview is done in person. We had been small talking in the court house when he mentions his charges. I ask if he was part of the raid that was just in the newspaper. He confirms that he was. I ask him about the troubling story I over heard earlier that month. He was in the other house so the details he gives are all hearsay. He does inform me that a very small quantity of drugs was seized, but that the party had a prescription for it. I thank him for his time.
I track down the second party through social media. He is open to talking about it with me. I tell him my intentions of publishing the story, his story. He is open to this as well. I ask him to tell me what happened. The following is an excerpt from that phone interview.
Second party: Well basically we got raided and accused of selling drugs and a gun was pulled on me in front of the kids. I was thrown around the house and I was treated like someone with a violent record and I don’t have a violent record. Other than that, I don’t really know what happened. It happened pretty quick. In court, they said it was a taser and it definitely wasn’t a taser. It was a hand gun.
Me: So they lied?
Second party: Yes. They’re lying about all kinds of stuff.
Me: So tell me more about the gun. Why did they pull a gun on you?
Second party: Because I appeared to be resisting, but I was trying to put a cigarette out and light another.
Me: So you already had the other smoke out? Or were you still trying to put one out?
Second party: I already had the smoke out and was trying to light it.
Me: What did the police say to you?
Second party: I can’t quite remember what he said to me. It was officer (redacted). I remember what I said. I said, “I’d give you a f***ing reason to act like that.”
Me: Is that when he pulled the gun?
Second party: That’s when three of them decided to wrestle me on the table, putting me face first in the table. It was after I started pushing away from the table that the gun came out.
Me: So they were wrestling you. You were on the table and officer (redacted) just pulled a gun.
Second party: Ya. He took it to my head. It was pointed at my head.
Me: So it was pointed at your head. What did you do? What was the first thing you did?
Second party: First thing I did was notice it was a gun. I looked and seen the ten-year-old child. When I made eye contact with him, I stopped right away.
Me: What did you stop doing?
Second party: I stopped trying to pull away from them. I was still trying to light my cigarette.
Me: Do you think they could tell you were just trying to light the cigarette?
Second party: Yes. It was obvious.
Me: So was there any reason for them to think you were about to pull a gun, or knife or…
Second party: No reason at all.
Me: So it sounds like you’re saying they put a gun to your head to make you compliant?
Second party: Ya, pretty much. That’s exactly what they did.
Me: Were they trying to get your hands behind your back?
Second party: Ya. They were doing that.
Me: Were you fighting back?
Second party: I was pulling away, ya. I was trying to sit up. They had me bent over the table, but after I made eye contact with the child, I stopped. They kept me bent over for 30 or 40 seconds.
Me: How long was the gun pointed at your head?
Second party: I don’t know. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds.
Me: Can you tell me what the gun looked like?
Second party: A 9mm Glock, a police issue hand gun.
Me: What did the child look like?
Second party: He was struggling too. He was fighting. When I stopped, he stopped. Him and the other child, an eight-year-old were out of it. We weren’t allowed to see them. They weren’t allowed to be comforted. They wouldn’t let us hold them. Nothing. The officers were there five or six hours before they called anyone for the children, while they searched the house.
Me: How long was it into this incident, before the gun was pulled?
Second party: Not even a minute. He had the gun out, like Dirty Harry. It’s his best friend.
Me: Did anyone else see the gun at your head?
Second party: Yes. The whole room full of people did. The kids were terrified. They were f***ing terrified.
I try contacting the other party that may have some verifying information. I receive no reply. I start researching the local law enforcement. I find the annual report of the Smiths Falls Police Service. They did switch to the same gun described by the second party recently and the officer responsible for training the other officers on it, is the same one alleged to have held one to the second party’s head. In reviewing my notes, the story has almost as many discrepancies as consistencies. Bad boys? You decide.
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.
Author's Note:This is part eight of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
The witnesses have been subpoenaed. I know this because my husband is served one. Some have even posted theirs on social media, along with my home address. I knew this was coming. I guess I’m not surprised. People are hurt and angry, as they should be. The date is getting closer and people are getting eager for answers. Well most are anyways. I am eager for more answers. In just a couple of short weeks I will attend my trial confirmation hearing and then a couple of short months later, my trial will begin. Meanwhile, I try to move my life forward best I can. I’m trying to find work out of the city, closer to home. I’m so sick of commuting. Does a pending criminal charge show up on a criminal reference check? I would hope so. But I would also hope not.
To keep costs down, my lawyer has me come to his office to help organize the case. I’m the best person for this job anyways. He throws me a banker’s box and leaves me alone with it in his conference room. It’s the disclosure. The box is packed. Not entirely how I pictured having my top floor office space on Laurier Avenue one day, but at least I’m here.
I read the information, crown brief synopsis and so forth. I know most of this information already, or could have reasonably guessed it based on what Detective Rodcocker said during my interrogation. In two hours, I finish reading everything. I never knew you could fit a person’s life in a box quite like that. This will all be public when the trial begins so I won’t spoil the ending. There are only a few pages that matter anyways.
They say innocent until proven guilty. That’s how it goes but that’s not really how it goes. The time in between being arrested and awaiting trial is awkward. Everyday is unique. Every day situations are ironic. It’s a feeling like nothing has changed but at the same time everything has changed. I figure I stand out now, so I’m going to try to make a go at my dream job, writing. If not for current circumstances, I never would have attempted such an unrealistic goal. But my life is at a stand still right now. Not much else to do. Maybe a case of fake it till you make it. I know I can make it.
This is part seven of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
It’s been one year since my whole world changed. One year since my seemingly ordinary life became, well, less ordinary. It was this day a year ago that the clients of a child protection agency in Eastern Ontario learned that their personal information was publicly posted on the internet. I would be blamed for this, accused of being a hacker who stole and posted the information online. I was later arrested and charged. These charges are still pending and so are my release conditions that say I cannot post any information to the internet about the agency in question.
I did not know it a year ago, but a series of life-changing decisions lay ahead of me in a roller-coaster ride of a defence that continues. I’ve only ever wanted to tell the truth and I was completely shocked about the implications of doing that. Lawyers really don’t like when their clients make decisions based on principle. It started with the phone calls. The media, MPP’s, lawyers and a ton of messages on social media and email that persist still a year later. It’s a mix of a lot of angry people and a lot of supportive people. Still, a year later I’m being stopped in the street, or stared at in the store. It happens in waves, correlating to when my court appearances make the news.
To help cope with the situation, I write. I write about what I am allowed to write about anyways. I try to write like you would when documenting on a shift report. I try to write about only what I see, objectively. I don’t pay attention to the rules of writing. I frequently lack context in a single article and catch a lot of flack for that. I even wrote a parody of a Shakespearian sonnet about my upcoming trial.
Over the past year, I have learned a lot. I’ve learned about small town police policies, local lawyers and courts and how intertwined service providers and family and criminal court can be. I’ve learned about politics, legislation and its impacts on social service delivery. I’ve seen unique families reduced to numbers or “quantitative data” used to rationalize a liberal agenda. I’ve learned about exploitation and corruption and if it can be, it will be exploited. I’ve learned to play the game, the invisible rules of the social classes and how to throw the game up in air and say, “no more!” Most importantly I’ve learned to keep writing, to keep bringing the message to new people.
It’s a beautiful day and the weather is finally seasonal. The snow has almost all melted away. Spring is here and the long, snowy winter is over. I’m cautiously optimistic that today I will set my trial date.
Last week, my lawyer called with the crown’s proposition on a potential Judge. The Judge he proposed used to be a lawyer for the complainant child protection agency. My lawyer asks if I would object to this. I almost don’t even have to answer. I half suspect this Judge was proposed as all the other local Judges have also worked for the agency for some time longer, before becoming Judges. I wonder about the implications of this in the local Family Courts. Since my arrest, I have not been allowed near any workers for the agency so I have not been able to attend court on Family Court days to observe and hand out flyers like I used to. I continue to leave flyers in the lobby however and answer a seemingly unending amount of emails from people dealing with the local child protection agency. After trial, I will be able to fully resume my activities as a voice for the oppressed. My lawyer says he will call me back.
When he calls back he advises that the crown has found a different Judge and that they’ve all agreed on a date. He tells me the date and advises me to set it at my next court appearance. I agree and thank him for his time.
Timing has allowed my husband to accompany me to court today. We get there and head straight to the court room. The court asks if there is any other counsel wishing to set a trial date. I don’t see the crown attorney on my case. I stand up a give the instructions I was given. The crown that is there shuffles through his notes and agrees with my dates. Everything is set to be heard by the Judge.
“All rise. Court is now in session. You may be seated.”
The Judge is now in the court. I must wait to officially set the date in front of the Judge. I’m the only one here to speak to the matter. Counsel for both parties are not present so my name gets called last, by the Judge. He asks me if I’ve spoken to duty counsel yet.
Before I can tell him we’ve already set the date, the other crown starts speaking and explaining the dates that we set. The Judge asks on whose consent this was agreed on. He tells them my counsel and the crown have agreed. The trial date is set. A trial confirmation hearing is also set, for June 5th 2017, in Perth.
Pathetic fallacy seems to hold true for the writer at heart. Albeit I won’t be basing my defence on this but I can certainly use such allusions to help muster the strength needed to see this thing through. My trial dates, Aug. 8th to the 18th 2017, will not be a cold, snowy days. It will also start exactly one year, to the day, of my arrest and their judicial fallacies.
It’s a cold, rainy day. The perfect ambience to set a trial date. At this point, any day is a perfect day to set my trial date. I’ve been ready and trying to do this for over three months. I get up early to get the day ready. I’m not nearly as anxious as I’ve been in the past. I know what to do. I know what to expect. It should be over quick. I don’t like waiting. If I were them, I’d want to rip the bandage off quick.
I get to the court house. The docket is long but there aren’t nearly as many people here as there was last time. I’m waiting for the courtroom door to be unlocked. The small talk among friends who meet in this place is interesting. There was a drug raid in my small town and one of the accused is beside me, talking about it. She says they were there for 27 hours. She says that for six hours, her kids were in the house. She talks about telling her kids not to worry. That they were not going to find what they were looking for. She says her kid witnessed one of the cops hold a gun to another adult’s head when he reached for something. She says the adult wasn’t phased, until he saw the kid looking at them. I think I know the guy she was referring to. He was here last month talking about it too. If it’s true, I’m appalled by the local law enforcement. Talk amongst accused criminals in a place like this feels so honest. We all know the procedures and can challenge any inconsistencies. Her story sounds genuine.
The intercom comes on and calls all counsel wishing to set a trial date to courtroom one. I head to courtroom one. There is plenty of seating. My lawyer had called me that morning with his availability and instructions. I have been acting as sort of an agent for my lawyer, on my own behalf. It’s a lot cheaper this way and I am confident in this role. All the lawyers go first. The court asks if there is any other counsel wishing to set a trial date. I stand up and give the instructions I was given. The crown recognizes me and comes to speak with me. He says that because it is a ten-day trial, they want to get a Judge from out of town to preside exclusively over this case. He says they will have to stay the matter over for another week, so they can get his availability too.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point. At least the time in between adjournments is getting smaller. I want to say that next week, on April 3rd, I will finally be setting my trial date but experience has taught me otherwise. If the crown wanted to proceed quickly, my trial would be over by now. The scales of justice are not in balance. I’m ready and willing, but disappointed again.
These techniques are designed to help you help your child protection worker understand why it is important to treat their clients with respect and challenge them to change the way they interact with you and other parents.
A child protection worker is a person just like you and me. Most operate within the invisible, elitist rules of their social class where respect typically only occurs upward. They really do have a hard job and face severe consequences from their supervisors if they do not do what they are told. Even if they are trying to act in a child’s best interest, they may face reprimands and even income loss at their yearly performance review if they chose a child’s best interest over the agency’s best interest. The agency is concerned with meeting ministry standards, regardless of the effects of this on children. Recognizing this conflict with your worker can help begin the process of change. The ministry standards are the rules in which the child protection worker must follow, such as timelines for investigations. Understanding these standards will help you and the worker to understand the reasons for their behaviour.
Ask your worker about his or her background. Why did they get into this field? Where did they study? This may help the worker to realize how their behaviour may be pushing them away from their goals. After reading the performance indicators on your local agency’s website, ask your worker if they feel these statistics accurately measure agency performance. Even if the worker does not answer, they will still begin to think about change and reasons for or against it.
Rolling With Resistance
Many workers may not answer your open-ended questions. Do not demand answers. Instead, just ask different questions. If a worker gets defensive, change the topic. You may never get an answer but these questions may start other conversations at union meetings and “around the water cooler.” Secretly recording your interactions are perfectly legal and may allow for less resistance than openly recording.
Support Self Efficacy
Commend the worker if they treat you with respect and dignity. Reinforce this behaviour at every chance you get. Eventually the worker will realize they are capable of treating clients with respect and the challenge of change will be realized.
To learn more about Motivational Interviewing, check out http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/UsingMIinSR.pdf.
The following blog refers to my upcoming criminal trial, with some fun with Shakespeare.
Two parties both alike in dignity,
In fair courtroom one, where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal error of incompetence grows,
A single whistle blower risks her life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows,
Do with her verdict expose the opposing party’s strife.
The fearful passage of her testimonial shall prove,
And the continuance of the agency’s rage,
Which, but their career’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the ten-day trial of our stage.
Which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
This is part four of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events. Photo credit: Perth courtroom No. 3. Tony Caldwell / Postmedia Network, http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/egan-disorder-in-the-court-perths-horse-and-buggy-justice-building-in-a-wi-fi-age.
I go alone this time. I see a man on the highway. He’s hitchhiking. I stop to pick him up. We small talk for a bit. I mention where I’m going. He’s going there too. I offer him a smoke once we get there. We chat some more before going in. It’s oddly calming. I feel less alone. Less anxious.
The court house is packed today. Standing room only. I know a lot of these people. I have instructions from my lawyer to set the date. I get in the long line to talk to duty counsel. I figure I might be out of here quicker if I can get someone to speak on my behalf.
The intercom comes on and calls all counsel wishing to set a trial date to court room number two. I will have to speak on my own behalf. I feel oddly confident doing this.
I go to court room number two. There isn’t enough seating for everyone. I’m one of the lucky ones to get a spot, beside the man I picked up earlier. I didn’t know his name until his matter came up on the docket. I guess he knows my name now too. He didn’t seem like the type. I wonder if he thinks I seem like the type. An alleged hacker and a guy who allegedly assaulted a cop, perhaps the beginning of a new friendship? I somehow doubt it. As people come and go, I keep shifting in the pew-like seats to make room. The walls are lined with people. The lawyers sit comfortably before the judge.
My lawyer told me to tell the court that he is available at the first two-week slot open for trials. This is also oddly calming. I made the decision to turn down the deal, a slap on the wrist. Setting the date will make it official. No going back. I don’t want to wait another second.
My name comes up. I tell the judge what my lawyer instructed me to say. The judge and crown do not want to set the date without my lawyer present. I tell them the instructions again, emphasizing my lawyer’s availability. The matter is stood down for another month, to March 27th.
Justice is a waiting game. Waiting for dates to set dates to set even more dates. A tactic to exhaust the parties into potentially unjust resolutions or a justice system that just can’t keep up to demand. I don’t understand why they don’t want to proceed. I’ve made my position very clear. Let’s just do it.