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Posted on February 9, 2006

6


I’ve basically been spending my time at this office doing bitchwork. Compiling books of cases for court submissions, reading cases. Although I did prepare a few submissions, and apparently most students would give a limb to be able to make notes on a case that had a small chance of being mentioned in submissions to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Legend’s most high profile clients are the Secret Trial Five, one of whose Supreme Court cases I am working on (Hassan Almrei). Just for the sake of public awareness, the deal is that these guys are accused of terrorism-related activities and are being held without charge for years, because if they are deported they will be tortured. Our quibble is basically that if the government thinks they’re so bad, charge them already. Try them; sentence them. It is a basic right to not be detained without charge. It is only legal to do this to non-citizens, needless to say.
Anyway so on Tuesday I went to see my boss’s co-counsel try a judicial review of a previous decision on Mahmoud Jaballah’s case (see link above). I showed up at the courthouse, only to find that there was no mention on any of the bulletin boards of this case, let alone what room it was in. so much for the right to a public hearing. Counsel had already told me that they’d probably be on the 7th floor, the room with all the security.
Security there was indeed. Outside the courtroom there were at least 5 guys in bullet proof vests and a metal detector. The searched my bag with extreme throughness (I sometimes carry a spare pair of underpants around, which has already led to one mortifying encounter with court security, but thankfully this was not one of those days). Finally after unscrewing my lipgloss, they let me in. I sat down and looked around. Jaballah and his interpreter were in the glass prisoner’s box directly in front of me. He was a massive bearded man wearing a new dress shirt. I remembered how long my boss had to argue to get one of these men shoes to wear in his non-heated cell. He kept his head bowed for the whole of the hearing. Not being able to hold your kids in fours years will do that to you, probably. The kids and wife were in front of me. I have to say, they sure ran around a lot, exhibiting a strange exuberance considering. The wife cried into her niqab. Every cell in my body rebels against thinking any fundamentalist Muslim is blameless, and to be sure the evidence looks pretty bad for the guy, but we all know what would happen if he was deported to Egypt.
The rest of the court was activists (all of whom, to my astonishment, were elderly white people with only limited acquaintance with hygiene), press, and cops. I was sitting next to one of these cops. He was in plain clothes, so I didn’t immediately see the vest. I asked him in a friendly fashion whether the government has made their submissions yet and he gave me a curt “No”. I shut up after I saw the vest. I shoulda known really that the sort of white guy who has a moustache and wears doc martens must be with law enforcement. Or the lumber industry. He smiled at me once.
I left during recess. I could see it wasn’t going well (plus I was hungry). Jaballah gave his daughter this dignified little wave from the box. She waved back.

Yesterday I adopted a kid from WorldVision. I’d been feeling the need for some time now to do something more immediate than legal volunteering. After all, if they’re here, they’re monumentally better off than kids in Africa with bilharzias eating rats. So when a dude came to my door I was happy.
He introduced himself as Alex and told me a bit about it. then he asked where I was from. This always pisses me off, I don’t know why. I mean, Toronto has lots of Arabs. Anyway after several comments to this effect, I told him. He said that he was from Lebanon and that his name was Ali. I snorted back laughter. It was like “Oh, well, then, you are privy to my convoluted and foreign name”. Like not everyone can do Ali. Because it’s like, so many syllables.

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