Ezra Trial: The plaintiff’s attorney took great exception to the mention of Ben Levin

Ezra was cross examined today. It was at times a bit of a slugging match with each side scoring points.  Ezra did not back down under questioning and it showed with the increasing frustration displayed by Awan’s attorney throughout the day. On at least one occasion Shiller misfired and essentially put words into Ezra’s mouth, attempting to suggest that Ezra authored commentary he had never written.

The Levin reference arose over a statement Ezra had made describing the suit against him as having a political aspect, in turn he added that the Levin case was also political and that, and I paraphrase, if there’s a left wing cause, Shiller’s firm is likely to be handling it. Shiller was not pleased as his firm represents the highly placed alleged pedophile Liberal Party insider and insisted Levant’s remark was designed to smear his firm and that the Levin case had no political quality to it whatsoever. An amused tittering from the peanut gallery ensued. 
Shiller had an aggressive line of attack that occasionally veered into the silly. One instance concerned a statement by Ezra that Awan had been in a conflict of interest during the Macleans/Steyn BCHRT hearing, being both counsel and witness.  In a comparison Shiller pointed out what was in and more importantly what wasn’t in a blog post by Ezra, the single page devoted to Awan in Ezra’a book Shakedown, and an article Levant wrote for Canadian Lawyer. Shiller insisted that both Ezra’s publisher and his editor at Canadian lawyer would not allow him to make a statement similar to that found on his blog and therefore had likely demanded changes or Ezra had deliberately self-censored knowing he could not possibly get away with repeating whatever imagined calumny Ezra is supposed to be guilty of. Ezra handled it well resulting in what I believe to be a factual assertion by Shiller that was made out of whole cloth.

Another point of absurdity arose over Awan’s role as a Youth Leader with the anti-Semitic Canadian Islamic Congress. Shiller insisted that Awan had never been an official member of the CIC and that Awan’s role as Youth Leader was a “non-membership position”. A distinction without difference as noted by Ezra.

Ezra’s cross-examination is over save for any questions for clarification that both the judge and his own lawyer may have tomorrow morning. The judge did add that either party may wish to make a submission on a point of law in question. Specifically this concerns a discrepancy in Ezra’s testimony versus an acknowledgement made in an agreed upon statement of facts completed prior to trial. 

As for an outcome, I just won’t hazard a guess, there is room, significant room, for interpretation between what you or I might consider fair comment and what the judge may decide to be a libelous factual assertion. 

Eyecrazy has a good recounting of a specific incident from today’s trial concerning Awan’s funding: But a pivotal occurrence came when Shiller asked about claims Levant made that the plaintiff, Khurran Awan, was being bankrolled for the current lawsuit. Evidently thinking he had the smoking gun of an example of an outrageous, untrue accusation, Awan’s attorney asked what the basis was for Levant making that claim.

In a moment of exceptional courtroom drama, Levant replied that he would answer the question, but wanted to make sure that Mr. Shiller understood that he was willing to answer the question, and how he knew the answer. Shiller repeated the question and Levant’s response was a shock. Levant replied that Shiller himself had provided that information in a conversation with his lawyer.

Shiller became flustered, almost stuttering, and backed away from that line of question immediately, muttering about his unwillingness to be a witness in the case he was conducting as an attorney. But the damage was done.