A convicted hate-monger who was due to be sentenced on Friday has fired his lawyer and will instead try to raise a constitutional challenge before he is sentenced in mid-July.
In an interview on Thursday, James Sears, editor of Your Ward News, said he plans to raise arguments about ineffective help from his lawyer, Dean Embry. Sears said Embry refused to ask certain questions or call any experts.
“I’m beginning to believe this was all predetermined and my own lawyer threw the case,” Sears said. “Something just didn’t sit right.”
Embry, who unsuccessfully defended Sears against charges of wilfully promoting hatred against women and Jews, confirmed he was no longer acting for his client. He refused to discuss what might have prompted the situation citing solicitor-client privilege. The lawyer did deny doing anything adverse to Sears’ interests.
“I didn’t throw the case, I can say that,” Embry said.
Sears, 55, and publisher LeRoy St. Germaine, 74, were each found guilty in January of two counts – promoting hatred against women and Jews – for the contents of 22 issues of Your Ward News. Court heard the paper had a circulation of 300,000 in the Toronto area and beyond as well as an online presence.
Among other things, the publication depicted in words and imagery beyond-vile stereotypes of Jews, denied the Holocaust, claimed women were inferior and that they bring rape on themselves.
The Crown called for the maximum six-months jail term for each offence to be served consecutively – one year behind bars – plus three years probation during which Sears would be prohibited from publishing any kind of written material. The defence argued a four-month conditional sentence would be appropriate.
Prosecutor Robin Flumerfelt confirmed Sears’ sentencing had been postponed until July 15 – the day Ontario Court Judge Richard Blouin is due to hear sentencing submissions for St. Germaine – but refused to comment on any constitutional challenge.
Sears told The Canadian Press he was in court on Monday to have Embry removed as counsel. He also said he would proceed now without a lawyer in his effort to have the law struck down.
At a hearing in April, Sears argued Your Ward News gave hope to the otherwise voiceless, saying it provided a safety valve for men who might otherwise resort to violence.
However, Crown lawyer Erica Whitford cited several victim-impact and community-impact statements in which people expressed how finding the free paper on their doorsteps made them feel unsafe, vulnerable and in some cases retraumatized.
Sears, a married father, was found guilty of sexual assault in the 1990s and lost his licence to practise medicine over sexual impropriety with female patients.
Embry argued there was no evidence Your Ward News had caused actual harm and warned that barring Sears from publishing any material could be unconstitutional.
The activist group called Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice said on Thursday Your Ward News has spent years on Holocaust denial, anti-gay and anti-women hate, and flagrant racism.
“Sears is an unabashed Hitler enthusiast, and has called the gas chambers at Auschwitz a ‘lie’,” the group said.