Anonymous Callers Called To Accountability

Friday, February 12, 2010

For Love and For Justice / Part 109 / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

This Trial Is Done With Loren Humeny, I Think
And this was another Huge Day

On Thursday, February 11, 2010, Doug Christie cross examined social worker Loren Humeny for one more day. I am sure Mr. Humeny was happy to step down from the witness box finally. This has been his third day of witness duty. He is also an observer for MCFD in court almost every day. He listened to all testimony preceding his own sworn testimony. Seems like a bit of a conflict but it wasn’t challenged.

During this cross examination, some progress was made for parents – not simply the Baynes, but parents like them who face allegations from anonymous callers. Now, don’t you want to keep reading? Yes, that’s correct. Presently, people can make calls to MCFD about you, your activities and your parenting or your children’s appearance or behaviour, and they can be classified as anonymous. Isn’t that convenient for them? Surreptitious, sneaky, clandestine callers. Mr. Humeny has referred to these anonymous callers as “collaterals,” since among other meanings the term designates those testimonies that serve to support or corroborate and are therefore collateral evidence.

Humeny said there were about six collaterals who communicated about the Baynes. Collaterals were very important to Mr. Humeny’s Risk Assessment document and to his testimony because he has placed more credence in this handful of collaterals who called him, than he did in the credibility of hundreds of people who called MCFD or sent emails or posted letters in support of the Baynes and their parenting and the characters. I know that because he acknowledged in court that he had not read any of that latter correspondence. He did however take seriously the content of the collaterals’ call ins who cast doubt upon the Bayne’s fitness as parents and it had been expected by the MCFD that these collaterals could remain anonymous.

Doug Christie had earlier requested that these collaterals should be identified in court. The Risk Assessment written by Humeny incorporated these call ins. Christie has argued that without identification, reference to the content of the call ins is mere hearsay, rather than evidence. Their testimony is dangerous to the Baynes but the collaterals could not be known or challenged. How can that be evidence, Christie demanded to know. On Thursday MCFD lawyer Finn Jensen began with arguments against Doug Christie’s request for disclosure of the several anonymous callers.

As he has done once before, Judge Crabtree took a brief intermission to deliberate and then returned with his ruling that this witness must identify the names of the anonymous callers. If you are at all sympathetic to the Baynes, you must agree that this is a good thing.

In fact, this may be precedent setting. This is repetitious but I must make the point. Previously persons, who called the MCFD with allegations of abuse or neglect, have had their anonymity protected under the Act that governs MCFD. For the Baynes and for other parents in similar situations, this anonymity of complainants has posed an insurmountable challenge because false information cannot be challenged. Anonymous callers are unaccountable for what they say. On Thursday, Judge Crabtree made a ruling that harmonizes with what fair-minded people have always known should happen. A court of law must make its decisions and judgements based upon fact and not hearsay. When a caller’s information is believed to be untrue there must be opportunity to cross examine these testimonies so the callers must be identified.

The identities and the credibility of the collaterals will be addressed later in this trial.




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