Lawyer Richard Dearden Attacks Self-represented Witness: Case of St. Lewis v. Rancourt
On September 6, I attended a cross-examination hearing in U. of O. Professor of Law Joanne St. Lewis’ case against former U. of O. Physics Prof and critic of the university, Denis Rancourt.
Ms. St. Lewis was present and represented by renowned defamation law lawyer Richard Dearden (Gowlings LLP). Denis Rancourt was self-represented as defendant and cross-examined on his affidavit of defense against St. Lewis’ motion for an imposed and immediate mandatory mediation in the case (link). U. of O. Psychology Prof Claude Lamontagne also appeared for cross-examination on his affidavit containing his expert opinion that the term “house negro” was not racist in and of itself even when used by a white male (link). I and other members of the public were in attendance to observe the proceedings.
Mr. Dearden first attempted to block observation of the proceedings by myself and the other members of the public present, and attempted to obtain the identities of each of the observers in turn. However, Dearden refused to provide grounds for removal of observers, and instead abandoned his attempt to intimidate and exclude the public when it was clear that the observers intended to stay. Dearden threatened that the presence of members of the public at the hearing would be used for “malice purposes and aggravated damages and punitive damages” against the defendant.
Dearden proceeded to cross-examine Rancourt, going beyond an examination of the defendant’s affidavit in an attempt to probe into matters beyond the scope of the cross-examination hearing.
Dearden’s interrogation of the witness was aggressive and abusive, and was clearly intended to be an exercise in intimidation. He aggressively yelled at the self-defended witness on several occasions, and refused to answer “yes or no” procedural questions about the legal requirements for the self-defended witness to answer his cross-examination questions. When Rancourt correctly complained that Dearden was “badgering” him with improper questions, Dearden again attacked the defendant with the accusation that this complaint constituted malicious conduct on Rancourt’s part.
With such unethical behaviour (link) on the part of a renowned lawyer with 32 years experience while members of the public were in attendance, one wonders how Mr. Dearden would have treated the self-defended Mr. Rancourt had he been successful in excluding the public from the hearing.
Due to the serious evidence of corruption and fraud surrounding plaintiff St. Lewis’ response to the Student Appeal Centre’s 2008 report of systemic racism at the University of Ottawa (link-1, 2), the University of Ottawa has a responsibility to state if it has an involvement, monetary or otherwise, in the case of St. Lewis v. Rancourt.
Richard Dearden is also employed as a Part-time Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. Mr. Dearden is teaching a “Media and Libel” law course during the Fall 2011 semester.