Sears’ St. Germaine Appeal Against “Hate Law” Conviction & Sentence Proceeds Under Protest Via Zoom
On Thursday, November 5, Judge Peter Cavanaugh turned down a motion for postponement of the Appeal proceedings as a previous judge had abruptly ordered the Appeal by Dr. James Sears and Leroy St. Germaine to proceed by Zoom after the Crown Attorney said his life was a risk in open court as Dr. Sears cannot, for religious and medical reason, wear a mask.
The Appeal is against both the conviction and maximum one year sentence handed handed down in the matter of Sec. 319 “hate law” charges against satirical broadsheet editor Dr. James Sears and publisher Leroy St. Germaine,
In a piece of legal arcana, the judge ruled that the order was not appealable at this stage but could only be challenged at a further appeal.
Former Political Prisoners & Thought Criminals Dr. James Sears & Leroy St. Germaine Seek Postponement of Appeal for Time to Prepare Constitutional Challenge
TORONTO, November 4, 2020. Tomorrow former political prisoners Dr. James Sears, editor, and Leroy St. Germaine, publisher of the satirical tabloid YOUR WAR NEWS, will appear in a phone conference before Mr.Justice Peter Cavanaugh to seek an adjournment of their appeal scheduled for November 10. They seek the adjournment to properly prepare a constitutional challenge to an interlocutory decision by Justice Ackhtar,, October 8, granting a Crown request that the Appeal, originally scheduled for October 13-15 be held by video Zoom rather that in person.
The appelants were granted time until November 10 to prepare their presentation and exhibits to fit the video format. The Appeal is against both their conviction and sentence (the maximum one year) of charges of “wilfully promoting hate” against two privileged minorities – women and Jews — contrary to Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code, Canada’snotorious hate law.
Dr. Sears and Mr. St. Germaine need more time to prepare and file Constitutional challenge and advise the 10 provincial and two territorial Attorneys-General. Dr. Sears told CAFE that the Constitutional challenge focuses on the order that the Appeal be conducted by Zoom. There will be witnesses in the Appeal — lawyer Dean Embry and Dr.Sears, among them. The Zoom venue does not allow the judge to gauge facial clues and interaction to assess credibility of witnesses, as a live hearing would do. “The Zoom ruling denies us a fair trial,” as guaranteed under Sec. 7 of the Charter which guarantees natural justice, he said.
1. The Appellant consented to appear at a case management conference before Justice Akhtar at 4:30 PM on Friday October 9th. He was informed of the conference only a few hours before it was scheduled to commence. Furthermore, it was scheduled only one half of a business hour before an October 13th appeal hearing scheduled months in advance was to commence.
2. Just prior to the conference, Mr. Bernstein forwarded The Appellant a copy of an anti-facemask flyer without any context as to why it was relevant to the case management conference. During the case management conference Mr. Bernstein claimed to Justice Akhtar that he had never seen the flyer before. However, at the end of an October 13th appearance before His Honour, he admitted to having had it in his possession for 3 months, as it had been forwarded to him by Mr. McCuaig on instruction of The Appellant on July 9th.
3. The October 9th case management conference lasted approx. 30 minutes and moved lightning fast. Since it was scheduled to be a case management conference, The Appellant was under the impression that it was just a casual, off-the-record discussion of the logistics of the trial. During this case management conference, Justice Akhtar was honourable enough to admit that he made an error in scheduling the trial; that he had meant to schedule it as an in-person hearing as agreed upon by all participants, but instead it was scheduled to proceed by ZOOM.
4. During this case management conference, Mr. Bernstein brought up the anti-facemask flyer, claimed his life was in danger being in the same room as The Appellant and/or The Appellant’s supporters, and requested that the mode of the appeal hearing be changed to one to be held by ZOOM. Mr. Bernstein was the only participant who had concern about appearing in person, so The Appellant spontaneously consented to Mr. Bernstein appearing by ZOOM whilst everyone else would appear in person.
5. Justice Akhtar made the erroneous assumption that The Appellant could not enter the courthouse without wearing a mask. That is simply not true, as the Ontario Human Rights Codes clearly provides exemptions for a number of reasons.
6. The Chief Justice of the Superior Court has set strict practice guidelines, one being that all self-represented appellants must appear in person.
7. The Appellant was given no notice before the case management conference before Justice Akhtar, that he would be arguing a motion to change the months-ago agreed-upon method by which the appeal would be heard. Therefore, The Appellant did not have time to review case law and case studies in order to argue against the motion. During this snap, surprise motion hearing, The Appellant was told by lawyers participating in the conference that the case law was not in his favour; and Justice Akhtar accepted these declarations as gospel. The Appellant vehemently objected. Nonetheless, supposedly an order to hold the appeal by ZOOM arose out of this hearing (and there is a reason why The Appellant employs the term “supposedly”).
8. The Appellant has never been served with a copy of this supposed order.
9. The Appellant has never been served with written reasons for this supposed order.
10. Upon attempting to order transcripts for this snap, surprise motion hearing, the transcription company replied “The courthouse is saying they sent the recording in error for October 9th, 2020. It was a case management hearing and therefore cannot be transcribed without a court order.” Therefore, this order, if it exists at all, is not reviewable, which is clearly unconstitutional. The Appellant asserts that as such, the order is not enforceable.
11. The Appellant spent approx. 2 weeks after October 13th trying to figure out how to present evidence for his appeal hearing, by ZOOM instead of in-person, including how to present documentation to Mr. Embry during cross-examination on his affidavit. Hearing preparation has been extremely frustrating; appearing by video will surely hinder The Appellant’s ability to argue his case.
12. Furthermore, The Appellant has been extremely troubled by the October 9th ambush. Intrusive thoughts of this egregious abuse of process have made it difficult for him to concentrate on preparing for his involuntarily ZOOM hearing. So for his own peace of mind The Appellant took a break from preparing his appeal strategy and decided to confirm that the lawyers at the case management conference were not being disingenuous or incompetent in claiming that the case law surrounding involuntary ZOOM hearings was clearly stacked against him.
13. After a few days of deep research, The Appellant was disturbed to discover that he had been misled; it appears that no case law exists where any participant can be forced to proceed by video; case law merely establishes where judges can order voluntary remote appearances for participants over the objections of other participants who will appear in person. Furthermore, upon reviewing Parliamentary debate transcripts, it is clear that the law which expanded the auspices of remote appearances was never meant to apply to situations such as the one before This Honourable Court.
14. In addition to reviewing case law surrounding the constitutionality of forcing him to proceed by ZOOM, The Appellant reviewed procedural case law in order to establish which court to apply to for relief arising out of the abusive interlocutory order; an order which was argued with no notice, in clear violation of the Principles of Natural Justice. The key case in that regards appears to be Regina v Johnson out of the Appeals Court of Ontario. To sum up, according to Johnson, The Appellant must ask the trial judge (or in this case, the appeals judge at the level of court out of which the interlocutory order arose) to hear the Charter case. In other words, application to a superior court for prerogative writ or Charter relief in the course of criminal proceedings must establish that extraordinary circumstances exist such that interests of justice necessitate immediate granting of relief (that would only apply if His Honour denies The Appellant’s motion and tries to force him to undergo video cross-examination on November 10th). Otherwise, issues arising in the context of criminal prosecution should ordinarily be dealt with within the established trial and appeal process; in this case, within the Superior Court.
15. Because time is of the essence, The Appellant prepared a very rough Form 1 which Mr. McCuaig was kind enough to serve upon the Crown on October 30th, asking for an urgent hearing before His Honour. The Crown built upon the abuse of process by claiming that the motion was not being brought in the right court, even though The Appellant can clearly read English and has become pretty good at understanding case law. The Crown made this determination so quickly that they clearly had not referenced the necessary case law. The further building upon the already established pattern of abuses of process, The Crown actually had the audacity to inform Mr. McCauig by email that they were never served, even though their email denying service, in and of itself, provided evidence of service!
Crown Too Scared of COVID to Appear in Court, Crown Insists Sears’ “Hate Law” Appeal Be Held By Zoom
Political prisoner Dr. James Sears, editor of the satirical broadsheet YOUR WARD NEWS was convicted on two counts of “hate” (against Jews and women), under Canada’s notorious “hate law” (Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code). In January 2019, he was sentenced to the maximum — a year in prison. The maximum sentence under this thought control law had never before been imposed. YOUR WARD NEWS publisher Leroy St. Germaine also received a year but, due to his Aboriginal status was given house arrest.
An appeal was immediately launched. Originally, the appeal was to have been heard of March 23, 2020. The COVID hysteria intervened and the appeal was rescheduled to October 13-15.
Now, Dr. Sears and Mr. St. Germaine are to be robbed of an appearance in persons in court. Dr. Sears explains: “Crown Attorney Michael Bernstein, who is representing the Crown on my appeal of my hate speech charges, at the last minute today, went in front of a judge and stated that my mere presence in court from October 13th to 15th put him, as a person over the age of 65, at risk of death from COVID. He presented the judge with an anti-mask flyers he claims I distributed as proof that I am basically full of germs and a risk to everyone in the courtroom because I refuse to wear a mask. The judge agreed and now the hearing, for Mr. Bernstein’s safety, will take place by zoom. “
Nine months after being sentenced to the maximum — one year in prison — for writing satire and violating Canada’s notorious “hate law (Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code) YOUR WARD NEWS editor Dr. James Sears has had his bail conditions amended. Nine months of labour brought to good doctor, less totalitarian conditions. Pending appeal of his conviction and sentence, he was originally effectively gagged, forbidden to speak to the press or to make any public statements.
On June 3, a Toronto judge revised these conditions. He may now speak publicly and speak to the press but he must not ascribe negative characteristics to Jews or women by dint of their membership in these groups. [Making privileged groups immune to serious criticism has always been the goal of mischievously named “anti-hate” laws.]
Dr. Sears’ sole condition now is”Do not make any public statement, or make publicly available, directly or indirectly, any statement or material, ascribing negative qualities or behaviour to women or Jews by their membership in either identifiable group”
The appeal against both the conviction and savage sentence of one year in prison (the maximum) for YOUR WARD NEWS Editor Dr. James Sears and one year’s house arrest for publisher Leroy St. Germaine had been set for tomorrow in Toronto. The editor and publisher of the satirical tabloid had been convicted by a humorless judge under Canada’s notorious “hate” law, Sec. 319 of the Criminal Code, for wilfully promoting hatred against privileged groups, in this case, Jews and women.
Because of the Coronavirus pandemic scare, the appeal has been postponed, likely until June. Free speech supporters will pack the court when the appeal date is reset.
This month a Toronto judge ordered two men to be deprived of their freedom
over words and pictures they published in a paper – and no one said boo.
Not the press, which mostly confined itself to reporting the bare facts of
the case. Certainly not any of the political parties, even though their
existence depends on the right to speak freely and sharply.
James Sears and LeRoy St. Germaine were found guilty earlier this year of
promoting hatred. The judge said their local publication, Your Ward News,
“consistently dehumanized Jews and women.” So, when it came time for
sentencing, he threw the book at them. Mr. Sears, the editor, is to serve
a year in jail, though he is free now while he appeals. Mr. St. Germaine,
the publisher, gets 12 months of house arrest. He says he will appeal,
None of the usual guardians of free speech seemed to find this even a
little troubling. Judging from the thunderous silence that greeted the
sentences, they consider it perfectly acceptable that this dubious pair
should lose their liberty for what they put in their nasty little paper.
After all, who could feel sorry for people who published such vile things?
But you don’t have to sympathize with Mr. Sears and Mr. St. Germaine to be
worried about sending them away. Free speech is under attack all over,
from both the right and the left. The notion that fringe voices should be
silenced rather than countered or simply ignored is gaining force. To see
a Canadian court embrace that view is alarming. Except in the case of
direct incitement to violence, democracies shouldn’t jail people for
things they write or say. That is a move from an autocrat’s playbook.
It is only too easy for governments to argue that those who oppose or
criticize them are fomenting unrest or spreading hate. Right now in China,
authorities are labelling Hong Kong’s protesters as dangerous radicals who
despise the motherland. When North America was in the grip of a Red Scare,
those with left-wing views were considered subversive. If they said the
capitalism system was corrupt and must be overthrown, they were
encouraging the populace to stage a violent insurrection. We look back at
the suppression of the left then as a gross overreaction, even hysteria.
In fraught times, the tendency to crack down on radicals, crackpots and
dissenters grows. With a bilious ranter in the White House and poisonous
populism on the rise around the world, these are fraught times indeed. The
prosecutor in the Your Ward News case said that the Crown intends to
enforce the laws against promoting hate with renewed vigilance because “in
today’s current climate … it’s become of greater concern.”
But using the criminal law to crack down on troublesome and even obnoxious
views is the wrong response. It hands governments a cudgel they can easily
misuse. It gives cranks and trolls the spotlight they crave. Mr. Sears and
Mr. St. Germaine seem delighted by all the attention. Mr. St. Germaine
said his partner emerged from court with “fresh handcuff marks still on
his wrists in the same spots where Jesus was wounded when he was nailed to
Worst of all, it threatens the free and unrestrained exchange of ideas
that helps societies progress. The great advantage that democracies have
over other forms of governments is that they can work through conflicts by
discussion and argument instead of violence. A system where views are
aired and tested is simply better at sorting out problems. That system is
truly safe only when all views, even the most odious ones, are allowed to
That doesn’t mean we are helpless in the face of hate. One way to fight
the haters is to argue back, denouncing their slurs and combatting their
falsehoods. Another is to turn away. If you find Your Ward News
despicable, consign it to the trash. Deny the trolls their martyrdom. Just
don’t chuck them in jail. Do that and we are all in trouble.
Former RCAF Veteran & Diplomat Ian Macdonald Blasts NATIONAL POST Coverage of YOUR WARD NEWS Persecution
Re: “Freedom of expression” hypocrisy (NP August 23, 2019)
As a Canadian newspaperman, you should value our guaranty of freedom of expression more highly that most, yet you report the jailing of James Sears, Editor of “Your Ward News” for his opinions with obvious equanimity, relegating the jailing, and the scandalously biased comments of the Judge, to a modest space on page 5, despite their momentous implications and high news value.
Since there was no editorial protest, it is clear that the National Post is quite happy with the verdict, no matter how treasonous. Shame on you for not rising forcefully to the protection of our, and your, most precious human right, which so many genuine Canadians have given their live lives to preserve.
Incidentally, by what logic can “denying the Holocaust” be construed as “hate”? Surely, the presumably happy notion that Six Million Jews did not die, and any proof to this effect, would be welcome news, at least in the Jewish community.
On August 22, 2019, a lower court judge unexpectedly sentenced our Editor-In-Chief Dr. James Sears to ONE YEAR IN JAIL for cracking jokes about women and Jews. After the judge read out his sentence, Dr. Sears was swarmed by guards, one flashing handcuffs. Dr. Sears calmly handed everything in his possession to his wife and 4 year old son, except for his crucifix which he clutched as the guards handcuffed him and led him off. He was standing tall and beaming with pride. His final words to us were “See you guys!”
But what the lower court judge didn’t know is that ever since he convicted us back in January, Dr. Sears has been studying case law. So after spending 5 days in jail, on August 27, 2019, like Jesus, Dr. Sears rose again! He took the paddy wagon from the jail to the courthouse, and handed a kick-ass “Notice of Appeal” to a Superior Court judge. Dr. Sears accused the lower court judge of being biased and giving insufficient reasons for convicting us, and making other legal errors. The Superior Court judge agreed with Dr. Sears that his appeal has merit, and she quickly released him on “Bail Pending Appeal”. He walked out of the court and back into the arms of his wife and son, fresh handcuff marks still on his wrists in the same spots where Jesus was wounded when he was nailed to the cross.
One of his bail conditions was to convince me to temporarily take down the Your Ward News website until the appeal is heard in a few months. I agreed to do it to help keep my Christian comrade out of the slammer. I get sentenced on August 29, 2019, and I’ll be joining him in an appeal of my conviction and sentence. I’m confident we’re both going to win our appeals. When that happens, the website comes back online and we get a brand new trial. And this time around, we’re going to win it!