By ALAN CAIRNS, TORONTO SUN
A left-leaning judge has shocked Toronto Police with an order that uniformed cops could not testify in his court if they wear their guns.
Ontario Court Justice Melvyn Green told a flabbergasted cop witness in a routine impaired driving case Tuesday to "check (his gun) somewhere."
Const. Chris Horton walked a gantlet of criminals as he stored his gun in a basement storage locker, the cop union says.
Justice Green, who once quarterbacked an appeal on behalf of Const. Todd Baylis' killer Clinton Gayle and was a key player in the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), backtracked in a similar case yesterday.
Green -- forewarned of possible police brass and union intervention -- tossed the gun issue in the laps of prosecutors and defence lawyers.
"It's their trial, not my trial ... if there is no objection, I am not going to raise the objection myself," the judge said. "It is a question of fairness and the appearance of fairness ... for the optics of the parties."
Despite Green's turnabout, brass and union lawyers fear Green has opened the door for litigation.
"It hasn't died. It has just gone away," Staff Insp. George Cowley, head of Toronto Police legal services, said outside court.
Cowley, who was set to intervene on behalf of Chief Bill Blair, said Blair feels "very strongly" that cops should keep their guns.
UNION WILL FIGHT
Cop union lawyer Peter Brauti said the union will fight any looming gun ban "in a heartbeat."
Brauti said cops face more danger in a courtroom full of criminals than "out in the parking lot."
The union's uniform director, Mike McCormack, said courts are inherently dangerous places for cops.
"Where else do you get a couple of hundred criminals all meeting under one roof," McCormack asked. "The potential for an explosive situation exists and should not be taken lightly."
Transcripts from Tuesday's impaired trial of Stephen Bodington at 1000 Finch Ave. W. court show Green told two cops who were set to testify that they must remove their guns and store them "somewhere."
Green told prosecutor Nenad Trbojevic to "tell" cop witnesses that he did not want "anybody testifying while wearing sidearms."
When Green was later advised by Trbojevic that on-duty uniform police officers are policy-bound to carry firearms, Green said while it "makes sense, I just do not see the need for them to wear them while they testify."
Confusion over Green's unprecedented order led to Bodington's trial to be adjourned and put over for another five months, which prompted Bodington's lawyer to suggest the case could be open to a charter challenge because of unreasonable delay.
When Const. Robert Jackson took the stand with his holstered pistol in the impaired case of Colak Gursel yesterday, Green told Trbojevic and defence lawyer Susan Pennypacker the issue was in their hands.
Pennypacker said she did not want to delay or prejudice Gursel's trial.
Both Gursel and Bodington have pleaded not guilty.
McCormack said cops should also not have to worry what they wear when they testify in court.
"I personally would rather see us spend our time policing, rather then changing clothes," McCormack said.
He wondered if Green and other judges were "prepared to walk the hallways in their robes unescorted" rather than use the back corridors.