Jun. 15, 2002. 01:00 AM
Children's mother takes stand at spanking trial
Judge asks media to delay challenge of publicity ban
By Kate Harries
ST. THOMAS — The mother of a Christian fundamentalist family that is fighting a child supervision application by the local children's aid society spent a full day on the stand yesterday.
She will return to the stand when the trial continues Tuesday, with only questions from Madam Justice Eleanor Schnall to answer.
Details of the spanking trial, going into its third week, cannot be reported because of sweeping publication bans imposed by Schnall, who is hearing the evidence in voir dire (a trial within a trial).
The case is taking longer than the two weeks initially set aside.
Schnall has now scheduled two days next week.
She has also requested that media challenging her publication bans adjourn their appeal, to be heard June 28, so evidence can be taken on that date.
The request was declined in a letter delivered yesterday from Paul Schabas, who represents a group of media outlets, including The Star, to Michael Menear, who is acting for the family's father.
"The appeal relates to what we believe is a serious infringement of the public's constitutional right to know what is happening in our courts," Schabas wrote.
"A timely disposition of the issues raised in the appeal is vital."
In a surprise twist, Menear and Valerie Wise, the mother's lawyer, who had asked Schnall to impose the publication ban, requested earlier this week that it be lifted.
After the evidence has been completed, another two days, as yet unscheduled, are needed.
This is for arguments on Charter challenges by the parents concerning the admissibility of the evidence.