By RHYTHM SACHDEVA
In a Toronto courtroom on Thursday, Aug. 1, James Sears, the editor of Your Ward News, and LeRoy St. Germaine, the publisher, heard that their sentencing has been delayed another two weeks.
Sears and St. Germaine were convicted by Judge Richard Blouin of promoting hatred against women and Jews on Jan. 25 and were originally were scheduled to be sentenced on April 26. At the sentencing hearing in April, Sears argued that his lawyer, Dean Embry, did not properly represent his case.
At a sentencing hearing on July 15, Judge Blouin delayed sentencing to Aug. 1 to hear Sears’ arguments about whether or not to reopen the case.
However, on Aug. 1 Sears failed to submit to produce a sworn affidavit as the judge had asked on why he felt he had inadequate representation.
Blouin acknowledged that since Sears is representing himself, some leeway should be made and he set a new sentencing date of Thursday, Aug. 22.
“If there was a lawyer, I don’t know that I would extend this time. Because there was a time period that wasn’t met,” said Blouin.
Blouin gave Sears until Aug. 8 to provide the sworn statement. The affidavit, as well as one from Embry, would be crucial in deciding whether to reopen the trial, the judge said. He also gave Sears two weeks to come up with a list of proposed witnesses and a summary of what evidence they might offer.
Sears still felt that he needed more time. He complained about finding experts, saying it’s hard to get in touch with academics during August.
“My lawyer wasn’t cooperative. So now I have to pick up the pieces and build the entire architecture of my case in two weeks. Especially over the summer months,” he said.
The judge, who is retiring at the end of this, was unmoved, saying the proceedings have dragged on long enough. Evaluation will continue after Aug. 15, he said.
“There is no evidence whatsoever on the record to support the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel,” prosecutor Robin Flumerfelt said.
Blouin also put off sentencing for LeRoy St. Germaine, 77, publisher of Your Ward News.
The judge wants St. Germaine, who has Metis background, to attend a sentencing circle. This is a form of mediation in which a wrongdoer engages with their victims, in this case women and members of the Jewish community.
Sentencing circles can be a valuable way of getting input and advice from the community to help the judge set an appropriate and effective sentence.
St. Germaine’s lawyer suggested his client was open to the concept — but not if he had to go into the mediation with apologies up front.
Blouin was insistent that a facilitated discussion of strongly opposed views in a “controlled, thoughtful arena” would be a productive thing. He gave until Aug. 22 to come up with a plan or, simply continue with sentencing St. Germaine.
On Aug. 22, Blouin will rule on whether to reopen the case, hear Sears’ witnesses, call a mistrial or proceed with sentencing.
The Crown wants a total one-year jail term for Sears and six months for St. Germaine.