So tonight CTV Atlantic ran a top story saying "Brindi the dog gets new owner" [Ed. note: The story was taken down a few days later]. That's news to me!
You might expect me to welcome such news, but I could not be more upset. And for a host of reasons.Sure, I got an email from the HRM prosecutor Katherine Salsman on Monday, saying HRM will "proceed with the adoption". What adoption, I asked? Just days before, and ever since 2010, this woman has had a one-track mind about killing Brindi.*
Then I warned her that it was not entitled to do this legally - not now and not for a long time, thanks to the lawsuit that HRM itself forced me to file back in 2008 (more on this below).
But I didn't think CTV would just blindly report this story without checking facts. And, they said they tried to contact me for a comment. Yet I didn't get one call, email, or tweet, nothing.
FIRST: THIS IS A MASSIVE REVERSAL FOR HRM!
Did anybody think to ask the responsible parties at city hall why, after SEVEN YEARS of trying to kill her (lawfully or unlawfully), they are suddenly willing to let my beautiful, smart, loving girl live?
Isn't HRM essentially conceding it's been wrong all along??I think so. So my heart has been broken over and over, I lived through hell for seven years, suffering from trauma after trauma, fear and grief, PTSD, depression, enduring countless losses and hardship, unable to work full time, unable to complete major home renovations, unable to live, essentially - and the same for Brindi, who has been made ill and kept in isolation year after year after year, all for nothing. Of course, for nothing. I already knew this - so did HRM, frankly, because it always knew it had no case for seizing and killing Brindi.
But no way does HRM now get to do an about-face and talk about adoption as if it was already a done-deal. Not so fast!!! Not until and unless those responsible are held accountable for all the damage done, in addition to wasting taxpayer money on needless and, let's be honest, malicious prosecution.
SECONDLY... Can we believe HRM and its prosecutor, Ms. Salsman?
How do we know for sure what HRM will really do with Brindi, let alone what it is doing to her now? Not only has HRM been dishonest in the past about Brindi and other dogs; its "staff" have cloaked themselves in excessive secrecy, the kind that shouts "We have something to hide!"
THIRDLY... It's a bit premature for HRM to announce adoption, because of the following.
Thank you for caring! However, be forewarned. HRM is not lawfully entitled to do anything with her at this time - and not without my consent!
There are three reasons why this is true:
1. Katherine Salsman and HRM know I am appealing the order to dismiss my appeal. She obtained that order on Dec. 10, largely because I was not physically able to be present and tell the judge why he should not dismiss it. Ms. Salsman knows this. She also knows I am appealing that Dec. 10 order, and there is a good chance of success, so that the appeal before the Court of Appeal can proceed in the new year.
To go ahead with publicly announcing adoption is another tactic intended to discourage me from exercising my rights in order to have justice served. In other words: HRM is waging psychological warfare against me. (Do I sound paranoid? Maybe. But that doesn't mean HRM isn't out to get me. In fact, since 2008, it's proven it is, in about a million different ways.)
2. Furthermore, Ms. Salsman stated in writing in 2014 that HRM would not take any action with Brindi until the appeal period is ended. (see below) If she had not done this I would have applied for a "stay of execution", i.e., a formal order stopping HRM from doing anything with Brindi. (Unfortunately that would not have stopped it from continuing to lock her up.)
3. I have a lawsuit against Halifax pending that prevents HRM from taking any action. In fact, this lawsuit was HRM's idea. (I would've preferred to get my dog back.) In 2008, when Animal Services officers seized Brindi, they said she would be killed in two weeks' time. They had the date already picked out. And they provided no way for me to appeal that decision, just as today there is no way to appeal any decisions they make, like muzzling, microchipping, etc., hint hint! Back then, HRM prosecutor Scott Hughes told my then-lawyer I had to file a claim because that was the only way to stop HRM from carrying out its own order to kill Brindi. He based this on section 16(2) of HRM By-law A-300 (in force from April 2008 to December 5 of this year), which states
"The Shelter Keeper shall keep all animals seized. Where there is an action before the Court involving a seized animal, until such time as a Court orders otherwise."It cost me $5,000 to file that lawsuit. As promised, HRM did not go ahead with its scheduled "euthanasia" (i.e., murder), though it continued to hold Brindi without authority. The lawsuit protected Brindi for years. So there's no reason why it would stop now. Back then, the action was killing Brindi, but as you can see from the wording, it applies to any action, including adoption.
Prosecutor Katherine Salsman now says it's "irrelevant", but that's just her opinion. Will she force me to do something about it in court? Probably.
Now, please don't get me wrong, dear reader!
If HRM now wants to release Brindi from the kennel, great!!! But now that it's changed its mind after seven long years, wouldn't it be only fair to give her back to me? Haven't I been punished enough?!
Isn't it only fair to give her back after all this time ...If only because I have had to listen to too many offensive statements for too long?? For example, in 2014, HRM prosecutor Katherine Salsman and her comrade Jim Janson argued vehemently before an appeal judge that HRM, as the current owner of Brindi, had every right to destroy her, just like every dog owner has a right to have their dog put down at will. Really. (I have the transcript, I will post it.) Does that sound as though they intended to adopt Brindi out?
Apart from 10 weeks in 2010, I have lived with grief and dread due to this ordeal every single day since July 24, 2008. I suffer from PTSD due to the terror of two seizures and a series of further traumas also caused by HRM.
HRM may want to appear generous now by announcing adoption. But the inconvenient truth is, it never had grounds to kill Brindi. And it knew it.
SO why, for two plus five years, did HRM refuse to accept any less drastic alternatives? In every written brief and oral statement before the court since 2010 and up to today, Katherine Salsman argued that destroying Brindi is the only acceptable course of action.
- She refused my offers to plead guilty in exchange for Brindi's return, or a foster home, adoption to someone else, or even me taking her back to the US with me, lock stock and barrel.
- She argued against my motion to order HRM to have her fostered pending the outcome of the first appeal, saying that if I consider myself a responsible dog owner and yet was "unable to control" my dog, then nobody else could do it either.
- She refused outright offers of adoption from 2010 to now, including probably the best offer ever, from this past August.
- She refused to negotiate for such a resolution outside of court, from 2010 to today.
These appeals are incredibly difficult and take up massive amounts of time, energy, and finances. It's impossible to hold down even a part-time job. And to be honest, every new interaction with Ms. Salsman triggers my PTSD again. Even if she says nothing. Her most recent statements were so offensive, I was a mess for several days. She said HRM was "forced to" lock up Brindi for five years because of "continual adjournments". Nobody forced HRM to seize Brindi or to lock her up. And "continual adjournments" is unfair and untrue.
Maybe to her, causing me mental anguish is an effective way to influence the unfolding of the court proceeding. Because she wants to win. But it is not her job to win.
Now she is doing it again, with this media announcement that HRM is going to "proceed with the adoption". As if there was never any doubt that there would be an adoption.
But there most certainly was!! Every time she refused to go to mediation, every time she refused to give out information about Brindi's health, she made clear that adoption was not on the table. As recently as November 24, she refused to disclose anything about a plan to adopt (see below).
If HRM was wrong about Brindi - and it could not have been more wrong - it was even more wrong about me. After all, municipal prosecutors Persaud and Kinghorne only targeted me after a court blocked the plan to kill Brindi. Laying charges (six months late) was the only way HRM could obtain permission to lawfully kill Brindi. This was the only reason HRM put me on trial. If HRM wanted to punish me for accidental incidents, fair enough: at the time, I said I would gladly pay. But it had a bigger objective.
Yet this second try (2009-2010) also failed, because there were simply insufficient grounds for an order to destroy. There was no hard evidence of anything remotely serious, and not one trainer or vet or even the SPCA backed HRM in that trial. In fact, as early as December 2008, HRM had ample grounds not to seek an order to destroy. By then, not only did it have dozens of letters of support, but also I had a trainer assess Brindi, and the results were positive. HRM ignored those results and the results of all further assessments!
HRM struck out a third time (2010-2012), over an incident that happened two months after I finally got her back. I'd made an honest mistake operating a rear window of a car I bought just an hour or so earlier. I was unfamiliar with its new hooked type of switch and without realizing, I accidentally lowered it rather than raising it; I was stunned when I pulled into my yard, Brindi squeezed out and chased after a dog. I raced after her and grabbed her in ten seconds; the owners later said there were wounds (see last post)- so small they didn't even notice them at first. Turned out Brindi recognized them because they said they had been circling the house all summer. That explained why she went after the dog.
Nothing about that incident could reasonably justify killing Brindi (and as I had made an honest mistake in securing the car, the court should have found me innocent of any charges). HRM still hunted us down and seized her again. And to stop me from getting an injunction to release her, it went right after me and all my possessions, evicting me unlawfully and without notice, then, also unlawfully, threatening to demolish my house - despite not one code violation.
I still live in terror.
On its third try, HRM's evidence still wasn't enough to convince a judge to order Brindi destroyed. Perhaps realizing this and wanting to avoid making the trial appear frivolous, that judge decided to use it to punish me even more - as if I wasn't suffering enough already. So even though she found that the incident was accidental, and even though a trainer testified that she considered me a a "very good dog owner", the judge painted me as an "irresponsible dog owner" who "exercised absolutely no due diligence", and "gave" Brindi to HRM, leaving it up to unnamed individuals in the municipal structure to make the final determination - live or die. No strings attached.
In a News95.7 interview in June 2012, Ms. Salsman pretended that this ruling was "the best of both possible worlds" because it gave HRM a chance to assess Brindi. As if Brindi hadn't been in custody for five years by then and had ample time to assess her - and as if HRM hadn't done everything possible to prevent an assessment in the first place!?
These things should not be forgotten.
The fact is, this announcement is merely further confirmation that HRM never had any reason to do anything to Brindi. Seven years of the court's time, my time and energy and money, the impact on both our lives, all could have been spared.
I am facing my seventh Christmas without her - which means, no Christmas at all.
Can I please have my dog back now?
* Ms. Salsman did not mention anything about adoption to the judge on Dec. 10 - not as far as I know, anyhow! It certainly wasn't in her written brief.
EMAIL CONFIRMING HRM WILL NOT TAKE ACTION UNTIL AND UNLESS ALL APPEALS ARE EXHAUSTED.
----- Forwarded Message
From: "Salsman, Katherine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:36:21 +0000
To: Francesca Rogier <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Notice of intent to file appeal
I confirm that HRM will not take action regarding Brindi until your appeal period has expired.
Katherine E. Salsman
Barrister & Solicitor
HRM Legal Services
3rd Floor, 5251 Duke Street
P.O. Box 1749
Halifax, NS B3J 1A5
EMAIL REFUSING TO DISCLOSE PLANS TO ADOPT
On 11/24/15 02:37 PM, "Salsman, Katherine" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I have considered your request for additional disclosure. In the Crown’s view, the information you request is not subject to a disclosure obligation. The majority of the information that you request is not relevant to this appeal as it relates to events well after the date of your conviction. Information regarding how HRM will comply with the order of the court to attempt to make adoption arrangements is not relevant to whether the decision of Justice Scaravelli was correct in law. Further, several pieces of information you request are subject to solicitor client privilege.
In any event, generally speaking a request for additional disclosure on an appeal should be tied to an application to adduce fresh evidence, which you have not made. I would refer you to R. v. Rahman, 2013 NSCA 139 (http://canlii.ca/t/g23rr) which cites the leading case of R. v. Trotta, 2004 CanLII 60014 (ON CA). It summarizes the Crown’s disclosure obligation on appeal as follows (para 7):
“1. There is a connection between the request for production and the fresh evidence he proposes to adduce and there is a reasonable possibility that the materials sought could assist on the motion to adduce fresh evidence; and
2. There is a reasonable possibility that the evidence to which the production request is linked may be received as fresh evidence on appeal.”
The information you request does not meet either of the requirements of this test.
Nevertheless if other information comes into HRM’s possession that is relevant to your conviction or sentence I will disclose it. However, I do not anticipate that occurring, and the information you request is not.
Katherine E. Salsman
From: Francesca Rogier
Sent: November-20-15 4:35 PM
To: Salsman, Katherine
Subject: Continuous disclosure for CAC 430436
Dear Ms. Salsman,
It has come to my attention that the Crown is in possession of information relevant to my CAC appeal no. 430436 which it has not previously disclosed, and thus hereby request disclosure of this information, including any and all information concerning in specific:
- assessments of my dog Brindi by municipal staff and/or contracted poundkeeper and its staff since 2012
- records of my dog Brindi's conduct kept by the poundkeeper and its subcontracted kennel since 2012
- veterinarian assessments of my dog Brindi's health since 2012
- information, correspondence, and findings with regard to the Municipality's decision to adopt Brindi to a third party, dating from 2012 and in particular 2015
- information, correspondence, and findings of suitability with regard to any and all potential families wishing to adopt Brindi dating from any time since 2012 and in particular 2015
In addition I am exercising my right to continuous disclosure of any and all information, documents, materials relating to Brindi and the matter coming before the Court of Appeal in February of 2016.