In a rarely used courtroom manoeuvre, lawyers representing Ottawa's Mayor, Larry O'Brien, have obtained an adjournment of proceedings while the Judge considers whether to allow a motion calling for a "directed verdict in favour of Mr. O'Brien".
So unusual is such a motion that Ontario's Associate Chief Justice of Superior Court, Douglas Cunningham, who is hearing this case allowed that he has never had to deal with one before. Essentially, the argument from the defence is that even if the Crown can prove the Mayor offered to arrange a National Parole Board appointment for his rival, Terry Kilrea, in 2006...there was no harm done.
Larry O'Brien who was elected Ottawa Mayor in October 2006 has been charged with a couple of counts relating to influence peddling to get his main rival at the time to step down from the race for the city's top job. The move to thwart the proceedings and direct a not guilty verdict follows conclusion of the Crown's case during the past two days. One of the mayor's Lawyers, David Paciocco, a Law Professor at the University of Ottawa, says the defence is preparing to argue that the only advantage for Mr. O'Brien in Kilrea dropping-out of the 2006 election was an "ephemeral political gain"...and merely a game which politicians of every stripe and at every level play all the time.
As noted on this "post" before: It seems to confirm that in trying to convince Kilrea to abandon the Mayoralty race, Candidate O'Brien was merely following the decades' old standard operating procedure in Ottawa where those pretending to have influence are usually peddling lies.
The trial is now scheduled to resume on Monday, June 8 as the Judge considers allowing the motion to go forward and taking arguments from both sides on the appropriateness of a declaration of "not guilty" without taking any evidence from O'Brien's defenders. The Mayor and his political staff at City Hall are on unpaid leaves of absence while this legal process makes its way through the court system.
And...it is becoming increasingly clear in the interim that matters at the city's administration have been evolving just fine in Mr. O'Brien's absence. For instance some have blamed his intransigence for a crippling labour dispute last winter that idled the transit system for two months and sucked the wind out of the Christmas sales business for thousands of merchants. Since the Mayor stepped down for his trial, the City and the Union representing the OC Transpo drivers have agreed to resolve all future disputes through binding arbitration; thereby forever ending the threat of another strike. Had such an agreement been in place last December, there would have been no walkout.
If in the event that a motion of a "directed verdict" succeeds and confirms that political shenanigans are in effect not a crime...Mr. O'Brien will nonetheless face another verdict in the "Court of Public Opinion" when he comes up for re-election in October of 2010.