Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ontario judge won't budge from OPP discipline case

An Ontario judge has accused Julian Fantino's legal team of political interference and intimidation, and refused to step down from a police disciplinary case, in a surprising development that will likely delay the OPP commissioner's testimony for months.
As the police disciplinary hearing for two officers resumed Monday in Orillia, provincial Judge Leonard Montgomery responded to accusations of bias brought against him by the OPP commissioner's legal counsel last week.
Supt. Ken MacDonald and Insp. Allison Jevons are accused of neglect of duty and deceit in a case that has pitted Fantino against the the two former officers assigned to internal OPP investigations.
Montgomery told the hearing he has no intention of stepping aside in the disciplinary case, despite OPP lawyer Brian Gover's allegation he is prejudging Fantino's credibility as a witness.
The judge also accused Gover of political interference for suggesting Ontario's Attorney General's Office was ready to step in and appeal for Montgomery's removal from the case.
"It all adds up to an attempt to interfere and undermine," ruled Montgomery, who threw out Gover's motion to have him removed, and ordered Fantino's testimony to continue.
Fantino's lawyer vowed to appeal the ruling in efforts to remove Montgomery from the case, a strategy that will delay the commissioner's testimony for several months.
While working for the force's internal investigations unit, MacDonald and Jevons were ordered to look into why OPP supervisors in Eastern Ontario overlooked a case involving a local officer who allegedly attacked his wife's car with a baseball bat.
MacDonald and Jevons concluded there was misconduct in the case, prompting the police union to file a complaint alleging major problems with the investigation.
Fantino ordered a review of the investigation's findings, eventually agreed with the union, and charged both officers with neglecting their duties, and being deceitful in how they handled the investigation.
MacDonald and Jevons claim they're victims of a witch hunt inside the OPP, orchestrated by Fantino and the head of OPP's union, and claim the commissioner bowed to union pressure.
Fantino has testified allegations brought against him by the officers are "hysterical nonsense" and denied bending to the union's will.
He also insists he has no personal vendetta against the two officers

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