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Just another day at 361: Paul Bernardo to the left, Livent to the right

A courthouse is, by definition, a Petri dish of the absurd. The courthouse at 361 University Avenue was no exception yesterday as a hearing into the hows and wherefores of releasing the Bernardo tape took place simultaneously with (and not five yards away from) Brian Greenspan’s continued dismantling of Gord Eckstein at the Livent trial. Several members of the fourth estate hopped back and forth between the two, and the attendant vertigo was almost too much to bear.

The Livent trial was more of the same as Greenspan the Younger confronted Gordon Eckstein with the defence’s contention that in his efforts to frame Gottlieb and Drabinsky—and in anticipation of the inevitable trial—he created a so-called “Nuremberg file” full of false and forged documents that indicate that he was only following orders. The broad implications of “Nuremberg” in this context slightly boggle the mind (I think I’ll let it go at that).

Finally, at 4 p.m., Brian finished off the Greenspans’ cross-examination. All told, it clocked in at six days. Within seconds, Crown prosecutor Bob Hubbard was on his feet waiving the need for re-examination. Given the character beating Eckstein had taken, the press gallery agreed that the Crown must be very confident of the persuasive power of their documentary evidence. Afterwards, I asked Brian Greenspan if he was taken at all aback at the Crown’s willingness to let Eckstein’s cross stand without rehabilitation. “I’m neither surprised nor unsurprised,” he replied with a certain seen-it-all-before sang-froid. There’s still a way to go, but this was among this trial’s first “whoa!” moments.

Across the hall, judge David McCombs, whose demeanour might charitably be described as ponderous, mulled over a decision on how best to release the tape of Paul Bernardo’s interrogation regarding his possible involvement in the murder of Elizabeth Bain. At one point, the judge, clearly thinking aloud on the various scenarios this event might entail, talked about unsealing and releasing the tape to the press, who would make it available to the public “consistent with its ethical obligations.” This, as opposed to the court setting certain limitations on the tape’s availability.

Leaving aside the idea that the distribution of the tape’s contents might somehow be “limited” once it is made available for broadcast, the use of the terms “ethical obligation” and “press” in this context, and in the same sentence, set Olympian standards for naive credulity.

• Media to get Bernardo jailhouse video interview Ontario judge calls ‘boring’ [CP] • Livent lawyer hits back at witness [Toronto Star] • Judge to release taped Bernardo interview [CTV]

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