3 min

Crown delays Goliath’s trials

Disorganization cited in trial preparations

CHALLENGING THE LAWS. Terry Haldane wants to enter his plea and challenge Canada's bawdy house laws on behalf of this country's gays. Credit: Shelagh Anderson

Terry Haldane is having the hardest time pleading not guilty to his found-in charge. Police charged the openly gay man with being found in a common bawdy house after they raided Goliath’s, Calgary’s gay bathhouse, last December. Haldane has been trying to challenge the charge ever since.

But the case keeps getting adjourned because the Crown prosecutor has yet to disclose all its information to the defence. That means Haldane hasn’t even been able to plead-yet alone challenge-the charge and the legitimacy of the bawdy house laws overall.

And Haldane’s partner, Stephen Lock, is sick of it. “I don’t know what the problem is,” he says angrily. “I wish the Crown would stop playing and get on with it already.”

Haldane has now appeared in court three times since January to try to enter his plea, the most recent appearance being Mar 19. Once again, he left court unfulfilled, another reserved plea on the books. He’s due back in court for a fourth appearance in April.

“This should have been taken care of weeks ago,” his partner fumes. “Every month we go through this again-and yet again the Crown [fails to hold up] its end of the bargain.”

Lock doesn’t know what to make of all these delays. He suspects the Crown may simply be disorganized.

Look at the Crown’s recent decision to stay its “keeper” charge against Ed Southern, he says. Southern used to co-own Goliath’s with his partner Darrell Zakreski, but he sold his share to Zakreski before the police raid. Neither police nor the Crown apparently realized this until recently.

Lock acknowledges that many members of the gay community still thought Southern co-owned Goliath’s, too. But someone in the Crown’s office should have double-checked sooner, he maintains.

Zakreski won’t say exactly when he bought Southern’s share because it was a private business transaction. But he will confirm that the transaction took place before the raid. And Southern is no longer a director of the corporation, Zakreski adds, and he was out of the country when the raid took place.

Crown prosecutor David Torske admits that the negotiations pertaining to staying Southern’s charge took some time. But the Crown is not disorganized, he says.

A case this size generates a lot of information, Torske explains. The vice squad put a lot of time into this investigation and a number of people are facing charges as a result. Under the circumstances, delays are not surprising.

And that also holds true for the Crown’s disclosure problems, he says, anticipating Lock’s next concern.

The most recent adjournment on Mar 19 was partly due to one of the defence lawyer’s inability to decipher the Crown’s disclosure on CD ROM. Some of the information on the disk was unreadable, Lock says.

That was just a technical problem, Torske replies. The CD ROM does contain the Crown’s disclosure, but it was difficult to read on that lawyer’s laptop. That’s being resolved now, he adds.

It’s important to sort out these disclosure questions in the beginning, Torske continues, especially in a case this size.

Haldane’s lawyer, Peter Hoare, agrees. “The Crown is not playing games here,” he says. Delays are not unusual in a case this size, “with a multiplicity of co-accused and this amount of disclosure.”

But that doesn’t mean the delays are easy for an accused, and his family, to understand, Hoare adds.

Lock, for one, is still unhappy. And he still harbours a suspicion that the Crown is deliberately trying to stall in order to get the charges dismissed.

If the Crown racks up enough delays, the judge might throw the charges out, Lock suggests. Then if the public gets angry at the Crown for letting those perverts go free, the Crown can say it’s not its fault.

Maybe the Crown regrets “opening this can of worms” in the first place but can’t back down now for fear of alienating the public and the police, Lock continues.

Torske rejects the suggestion that the Crown is purposefully stalling to get the case dismissed. Delays are normal in a complex file like this, he repeats.

The Crown has already reviewed the charges and has no plans to withdraw, or stay, any more of them, he adds. He expects to set a trial date at the next court appearance in April.

Lock says he’ll believe that when he sees it.

In the meantime, he is also eyeing his partner’s legal bills-and the fledgling community defence fund-with mounting anxiety. The fund only contains $994.10, Lock says with a sigh.

“It’s disappointing that there hasn’t been more of a supportive response from the community,” he says. “There are legal costs involved here which the defence fund was going to help subsidize. But there’s not even $1,000 in that fund. It’s dropped off the community radar.”

Haldane will return to Calgary provincial court Apr 16. He is hoping to finally be able to enter his not guilty plea and move on to the next stage of the process.


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