Jun. 19, 2002. 01:00 AM
Court hears about discipline
Both parents testify at proceedings for child supervision
By Kate Harries
ST. THOMAS — Details of a family's discipline methods were explored yesterday with testimony from both parents in the high-profile child apprehension that's been dubbed the spanking case.
Details cannot be reported because of a far-reaching publication ban imposed by Madam Justice Eleanor Schnall, who is hearing the evidence in a voir dire, or trial within a trial.
While it's required that children — and by extension their families — never be identified in child-protection proceedings, Schnall has placed unusual limits on reporting the evidence, as well as identification of witnesses and description of the demeanour of the parents.
The family, from nearby Aylmer, is the subject of an application for a 12-month supervision order by Family and Children's Services of St. Thomas and Elgin. The agency apprehended seven children last July and held them for three weeks before returning them under a court-ordered agreement.
The mother, who spent a day and a half on the witness stand last week, completed her testimony by answering questions from Schnall.
Then it was the father's turn. Tall, gaunt, dressed in the white shirt and black trousers and vest worn by members of the Church of God Restoration, he was questioned by his lawyer, Michael Menear, and then children's aid lawyer Alfred Mamo.
There were moments of varying emotion that cannot be reported under Schnall's ban, nor can the father's attitude in response to fierce cross-examination by Mamo.
The trial continues tomorrow, its 14th day.
The case is taking longer than the 10 days initially set aside. The court will sit next week for two days, and perhaps for another day in July, in order to complete the evidence and hear two days of legal argument on whether the evidence is admissible under the Charter of Rights.
Also next week, a challenge of Schnall's publication ban by a group of media outlets, including The Star, will be heard in the Superior Court of Justice in London, Ont.