London Mayor Joe Fontana’s court case has been adjourned to Feb. 26 to allow for disclosure.
The mayor’s first court date, which he didn’t attend, was a swift affair on Tuesday morning (Jan. 8). Attorney Gordon Cudmore and legal assistant, Perrie Douglas, represented Fontana.
“It was a standard first appearance,” Cudmore said outside. “The matter was put over for seven weeks to allow the crown a chance to provide us with disclosure. Once we’ve reviewed that we’ll meet with the crown and talk about where we go from here.”
Disclosure allows Cudmore to see the basis of the three charges — breach of trust by a public official, utter forged document and fraud under $5,000 — leveled against Fontana by the RCMP in November.
The lawyer said one of two things would happen on Feb. 26: “If the crown and I have had time to talk we may set a date for a preliminary hearing. If we haven’t resolved anything, it will be adjourned again to allow for further talks.”
He said the first thing the crown and defense would discuss is where they agree and on what facts they differ.
“My practice is you don’t go in and fight things you agree are true,” Cudmore said. “You point out what it is the issues are, where you differ from the crown’s position and what the defense is. The crowns that are assigned to this case and I have a good working relationship and we’ll talk and see where we go.”
The first appearance took place in courtroom A, a small administrative courtroom with only eight seats, which Cudmore described as “only slightly larger than a phone booth.”
With as many reporters waiting outside, court operations manager Fran Martellotti initially told the media in attendance none of them would be able to sit inside for the brief hearing.
After a brief discussion and number-guessing game, one journalist was allowed in.
Cudmore said in certain cases when it is obvious there will be a lot of attention from the public and the media, a case will be moved to the largest courtroom available.
“For A court, I don’t think they are quite as concerned because that’s more of an administrative court,” Cudmore said. “I won’t say nothing happens in there, what happens there is important, but there’s no evidence, there are no pleas and it’s a justice of the peace hearing the matter.”
He said it’s why they use designates rather than having the client attend as well.
“Then it would be really crowded in there.”
Asked if there was any chance the case would be expedited similar to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s, Cudmore said it would not, because in Fontana’s case there isn’t anything hanging in the balance, in other words, his position as mayor is not in question, as it is for Ford.