Crossposted on Musings From Hedon
Before I begin, please read these older blogs I wrote in January for some background on my ongoing legal drama.
Now, after I had written both of those, I found out at my preliminary hearing I was in fact by LAW in Canada, NOT allowed to enter a Guilty plea if I did not believe I was in any way guilty of the crime I was charged with. After telling the Duty Counsel and the Justice Of The Peace my story and why I was pleading guilty, they informed me that by admitting that I did not feel I actually WAS guilty they refused to accept my plea. They understood why I wanted to, but assured me that Jail Time was NEVER a likely sentence for a minor shoplifting offense and that it would be tantamount to lying under oath. In tears I plead Not Guilty at the reccommendation of a judge and an agent of the crown whose job it was to prosecute criminals.
So yesterday, August 19th, was my trial date. I was apprehensive. My treatment at the Port Coquitlam court in January had not left me feeling terribly reassured in the fairness of the Legal System, and I had still been unable to re-locate my witnesses from the Safeway Parking lot.
And then the Judge called me Miss. He made it a point to clarify with me what titles and pronouns were appropriate for me, and on the rare occasion he fucked up a pronoun he caught himself and immediately apologised. While he did at times seem a little condescending in his need to explain every single procedure to me, he was otherwise bending over backwards to be accepting and supportive.
That alone gave me hope. But that's not all.
Only one of the security gaurds involved in the original incident in June of 09 showed up. The one who made the transphobic statements didn't attend, and the one who did had gone out of his way to exclude any mention of him from his official report.
And the gentleman who DID show up stumbled badly. He had trouble remembering details without his notes. He fumbled badly at EVERY turn. And I caught him in BLATANT lies that even the Judge scolded him for. Among the biggest lies was, when asked by the crown about my emotional state, he claimed I was neither emotional nor upset nor crying, but he felt I was angry and wanted to hurt him.
There was just one problem with that claim. And when it came time for me to cross-examine him with my own questions, (I can't afford a lawyer nor do petty shoplifting offenses qualify for legal aid), I nailed him with his own evidence.
This is the photo the LPO took the day of the false arrest. It was submitted into evidence months before the trial. Holding my copy of it, I asked Iyer, the LPO, to confirm his contention that I was neither crying nor emotional but simply angry I'd been “caught”. He stuck to his story.
So I asked the Judge to look at my eyes in the photo and tell me what he saw.
The Judge said he saw, as this close-up shows, “Red puffy eyes, clear evidence of recent or current crying, and tears visible on my cheek. As it's a scan of a photocopy of a print-out the tears may not be fully visible here, but the Judge saw them clearly enough on his copy.
When the Judge asked him to explain why his own photographic evidence contradicted his memory of events, Iyer was at a loss, and hung his head mumbling a vague excuse about not remembering.
The trial ran long and the Court neared closing time, so I unfortunately had to have an adjournment until October, the earliest possible date in which the Crown Prosecutor could be free to resume trying my case. So sadly the ordeal isn't over yet.
However while I'm not going to jinx anything by saying this might be a slam-dunk, I AM very hopeful right now for a number of reasons.
– Iyer was caught in enough inconsistancies and outright lies that even the Judge scolded him.
– Despite my best efforts to maintain my composure while explaining my juvey rapes to the court as my reason for going out of my way to NOT break the law as I would rather die than go through that ever again, the Judge could see the tears and emotion I was fighting to NOT show and expressed sensitivity and understanding to it.
– The Crown, whose job it is to prosecute and convict me, when going over the adjournment with me and asking me about my dumpster-diving for restaurant leftovers, expressed far more concern about whether there were aid resources I could look into to survive better than garbage food than about any details of the case.
Get that last one folks? The GUY WHOSE JOB IT IS TO CONVICT ME was more concerned about my health and living situation than about discussing the actual trial.
As I said, I won't jinx anything by garaunteeing an outcome, but I feel very hopeful right now. Things SEEM to be leaning in my favour. And it gives me hope that there are places in the legal system where a trans/is woman like me can and will be respected, treated kindly, and taken seriously.
And hope is a very wonderful feeling. And I feel it so rarely that I need to share it. I hope that the hope I'm feeling right now might creep into the hearts of all my Trans Sisters and brothers. Hope that sometimes, people in Authority ARE capable of accepting and respecting us, and sometimes, just sometimes, the truth actually matters when it comes to our lives.
I'd rather share hope than misery. So the buffet is open brothers and sisters! Help yourselves! And wish me luck come October that this thing will finally end and I can move on with my life.