Saturday, February 13, 2010

Not Guilty!

by Sean Cruz

A Vancouver jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty yesterday on charges of assault and harassment stemming from my confrontation with my children’s kidnapper in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel last October (Happy Valentine’s Day!).

The outcome became a dicey proposition during pre-trial motions, when the prosecution successfully moved to prohibit any discussion or mention of my children’s kidnapping or Kory Wright’s participation in the abduction during trial.

The prosecution’s motions also disallowed any references to Aaron’s Law, or to the contents of the envelope (which contained a copy of Aaron’s Law), or of my motives for the encounter other than the embarrassment factor, or of what exactly was said during the event. Consequently, the jury only heard that there were “some papers” or “an envelope” involved, and never heard what was actually said or exchanged between my children’s abductor and myself.

Also during pretrial, the prosecution moved successfully to bar my blog writings or any mention thereof while the jury was present.

I’m telling you, it was really difficult to answer some of the questions posed when I was on the witness stand without crossing into forbidden territory. At several points, I was concerned that it might appear that I was avoiding answering some questions, when I was trying to figure out how to answer truthfully with the handicap that answering the question fully was not going to be allowed. I’m sure that worked to my disadvantage.

The jury never learned that my children had been abducted, which was the whole point of the encounter in the first place, to force Kory Wright into a courtroom where he would have to testify under oath to events that he had previously lied about.

The outcome I was looking for all along was a perjury charge against Kory Wright.

Ironically, the prosecution relied on statements I had written on Blogolitical Sean as their basis for pressing charges without ever telling the jury where the statements came from, since the blog writings were disallowed at their own insistence.

The language I had used to describe the incident was intentionally insulting and inflammatory, but was largely rhetorical. It was never intended to be a literal account of the confrontation.

I had written that I had both slapped my children’s abductor with the envelope containing Aaron’s Law and had thrown it at him, bouncing it off his face, but had actually done neither, although I had flipped it in his direction.

This was bait.

I was aware at the time that security cameras in the Hilton would capture the incident and thus I could describe the sequence of events with great latitude.

When Kory Wright filed his complaint against me using the identical language from my blog, “slapped” and “bounced”, I was extremely pleased. The language I had used rhetorically was being taken as a literal description, even an admission of guilt, which could easily be disproved.

After posting my description of the confrontation, I had felt compelled to call or email a number of friends to clarify that the slap was rhetorical, not actual, but otherwise let the writing stand unaltered as a continuing insult, just as an abduction is a continuing crime.

My next focus was to get the earliest possible trial date, to get Kory Wright into a courtroom as soon as the law would allow, and as I navigated through the process of hearings and conferences, representing myself, I never stated to anyone in the court system or to law enforcement that the language was rhetorical. I let it stand. I wanted to be taken seriously.

I was focused on my day in court like a laser beam, and very frustrated at the length of time it took to get there.

An unexpected complication arose when just before trial I finally saw the Hilton security video, taken from two perspectives in the lobby, neither ideal, and taken as a series of stills rather than as a running documentation of the confrontation.

The entire encounter, from start to finish lasted only 42 seconds, long enough to get through my brief talking points, serve Kory Wright with a copy of Aaron’s Law, and leave for my intended interview with a reporter from the Vancouver Columbian.

The stills, however, showed me with the envelope in my hand and then cut to where it was lying at Kory Wright’s feet.

I did not anticipate this at all. The stills showed an obvious heated exchange of words, me pointing my finger at my children’s abductor, but did not clarify whether contact occurred.

This caused me great concern at trial, as the prosecution sought to convict me with my own words, “slapped” and “bounced”, which I had stated to just about everyone, including a Vancouver police officer, who testified to that effect.

The fact is that I had indeed used those words to describe the incident… which was backfiring on me in an unexpected way…somewhere in here there is a lesson for me….

Kory Wright testified that I had reached out with the envelope in my hand and slapped him in the face with it. A bitch-slap encounter.

His witness testified that I had thrown the envelope and that he thought it had struck my children’s abductor somewhere in the chest. He was largely confused.

You really can’t have it both ways, although the prosecutor tried to prove that I had done both.

The bottom line is that the prosecution had to prove that an assault took place and that there was intent on my part to assault my children’s kidnapper. Same for the harassment charge.

My attorney, Mr. Blake Doré of Vancouver Defenders did a remarkable job. It gave me great comfort to watch him work. This man has a bright future.

The judge was tough but fair, and had an immensely likeable personality (ideal characteristics for the bench); nonetheless, I promised the Honorable Verne Schreiber afterwards that he wouldn’t see me before him again!

As for the prosecution, your narrow focus did nothing to advance the cause of justice. Every witness swears “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, but you did your best to see that the truth did not get into the record or before the jury, and in that lies your only success. Choke on it.

POINT OF CLARIFICATION: The foregoing statement regarding choking is
meant rhetorically, not literally.

There’s a difference.

Lastly, the one point of satisfaction for me, apart from the acquittal, was to cause my children’s abductor to at last suffer a consequence for his criminal acts, even if it is only some embarrassment and time taken off from work to appear in court.

If he doesn’t like what I have to say, then he’s free to sue me.

I’m waiting for you, motherfucker.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…that’s my defense.

Count on it.