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  • No trial date set for dairy farmers accused by OSPCA
    By Lois Ann Baker - AgriNews Staff Writer

    CHESTERVILLE -- It's been over a year since they were served with Cruelty to Animal charges, and still the Robinsons have not had their day in court. In May of 2011, dairy farmers David and Marilyn Robinson were served with the summons for first appearance on controversial charges relatyiing to the condition of their cattle.

    There are two things in the courts right now: the criminal charges of cruelty against the Robinsons; and a lawsuit they have filed for defamation of character against the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

    As for the charges against them, there is still no trial date set due to the Crown asking for the removal of the Robinsons' lawyer, Kurtis Andrews.

    "The Crown is actually bringing an application to have me removed as Robinsons' counsel," said Andrews. "There is no legal basis for this. We are taking the position that it is frivolous and an abuse of process." In fact, the Robinsons are responding with an application to have all of the charges stayed for abuse of process.

    The Crown will state its case on August 22. In the meantime, this has interrupted the whole proceedings.

    Andrews said the reason for the Crown's position stems from interviewing of a key witness, Veterinarian Dr. Willy Armstrong, and if Armstrong's story were to change in any way, the lawyer could supposedly find himself called as a witness.

    "Which is absurd," said Andrews. "It's very weak what they are doing." Andrews said that even though he believes there is no way the Crown will succeed in removing him, a trial date can't be set until the issue is settled.

    On the civil front, the Robinsons have filed a defamation suit against the OSPCA, which the OSPCA tried to have thrown out.

    "They brought what's called a ‘summary judgement motion' to try to have that done," said Andrews, "That was heard on April 11." On June 22, the decision came out to dismiss the OSPCA motion, and the farm couple are proceeding with the lawsuit.

    The court date for that has yet to be determined as going through civil litigation is a fairly lengthy process.

    "There is a good chance this lawsuit will not progress until the charges are dealt with," said Andrews, adding that this type of lawsuit has a statute of limitations on when it has to be filed, which is why they did not wait until the other charges were decided.

    The Robinsons are handling the situation as best as they can, Andrews said. "But this is now something that has been like a dark cloud hanging over them for more than a year."

    Without a triall date, there is no light on the horizon. The Robinsons still have their farm, but as for the herd, Andrews said they sold their quota to pay for legal fees and they are no longer producing milk.

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    Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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