Jian Ghomeshi has arrived at Old City Hall for the start of his trial. His two lawyers have taken a peek at the courtroom where proceedings will begin at 10am.
Ghomeshi, former host of CBC Radio's popular culture show "Q,'' has already pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. He is being tried by judge alone.
Ghomeshi is clean shaven, wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie for his first day of trial. Had a serious look on his face as he walked up the courthouse stairs through a crush of cameras. Police were on hand for crowd control. Outside the courtroom where his trial will take place there are two long lines, one for media with designated seats and another for the public. There are many reporters in the 'public' line as there's immense national media interest in this story.
Doors to the courtroom where Jian Ghomeshi's trial is set to get underway have just opened. Half the seats in this wood-panelled room have already been filled by media who had designated seats.
Ghomeshi isn't in the courtroom yet, nor are his lawyers or the Crown. Courthouse staff are letting in people one at a time to the public benches.
It looks like the courtroom has reached its capacity. Only a handful of empty seats remaining, but they are reserved for defence team. The courthouse has arranged for an overflow courtroom one floor below which will have a live video and audio feed of the proceedings.
It's much quieter (for now) in a special overflow courtroom set up downstairs for media unable to access the main courtroom. A big screen TV should allow for following proceedings.
Ghomeshi is sitting beside his lawyers, who have a table at the front of the courtroom. He is being represented by Marie Henein and Danielle Robitaille. Henein has a reputation for being razor sharp in the courtroom.
Ghomeshi has entered the courtroom with his two lawyers. Leans into the public gallery to hold the hand of an older woman in the front row. Looks serious.
We are now about 10 minutes away from the scheduled start of Ghomeshi's trial, which will be heard by Justice William Horkins. He served as both a Crown attorney and a defence lawyer before he was appointed to the bench in 1998.
Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan is now in the room. Is conversing briefly with Ghomeshi's main defence lawyer, Marie Henein. Callaghan is a career Crown lawyer. Has been called 'well balanced' by his peers.
No photography or video allowed inside the courtroom, but if you want to try imagining the scene: Ghomeshi, in dark suit and tie, is seated at a table with his two lawyers, who are both in black pencil skirts, blazers and high heels. On the other side, a lectern next to them, sits Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan, who has a light grey beard, wearing a dark suit, and his fellow Crown, Corie Langdon.
Justice Horkins has entered the room, taken his seat on the bench.
Horkins starts by saying the case has attracted "extraordinary media attention." Says he recognizes media has a valuable role to play by keeping public accurately informed. Commends court staff for their efforts to move things along smoothly. Also cautions that there are publication bans in effect for the case, which pertain to the identities of some complainants in the case.
We are first dealing with submissions from lawyers who are representing certain media outlets, who are seeking an 'orderly' process to access exhibits filed at trial.
We are now hearing submissions from a lawyer who represents one of the women complainants who can't be identified in this case. Submissions are in regards to media access to exhibits at trial. Complainant's lawyer has some concerns about privacy. Also notes that the woman doesn't have standing at the trial.
The complainant whose lawyer is making submissions is in the courtroom. Her lawyer says: "She wanted to be here because it concerns her privacy interests directly."
Now hearing from a lawyer representing Lucy DeCoutere, who is the only one of the three women complainants at this trial who can be identified. DeCoutere, an actress on the TV show "The Trailer Park Boys," went public with her allegations against Ghomeshi in October 2014. She has accused Ghomeshi of choking her "to the point she could not breathe'' and slapping her "hard three times on the side of her head.'' Her lawyer says of the trial and the exhibits that will come up: "the events at the centre of these proceedings will be deeply personal in nature."
Lawyers for the complainants have one key issue: they don't want media to have direct access to exhibits that are tendered as part of a '278 motion' made before the trial began. That motion involves disclosure of certain compliant personal records to the defence for their case.
Ghomeshi's lawyer has said the defence has not sought and does not have any psychiatric records, counselling records or "records of a deeply private nature." Henein says "I think that the court is adequately equipped to deal with these issues....We are equally concerned and anxious that the open court principle be respected in this case."
Justice Horkins on media access to exhibits:
"I didn't think this was going to be a major issue and I don't think it is...The default position is transparency. If it's entered as an exhibit then it's available to the media and to the public."
"There is however a gatekeeper function which falls to the court to protect the privacy interest of witnesses and others and I intend to be mindful of that."
"To go back to where I began, the exhibits will be made available."
Complainant says Ghomeshi was flirting with her, kept asking her to come back with her appetizers tray.
"He was charming, funny, happy, charismatic."
First complainant says in 2002 she worked in the arts community, had part time jobs, also worked in catering.
"I first met Jian Ghomeshi in 2002 December at a ... party and I was working with the catering company and I was a server."
We are now on to the first witness at Jian Ghomeshi's trial, who cannot be identified.
Crown says there will be a 'similar fact' evidence application made later on in the trial.
Complainant says Ghomeshi invited her to come back for small taping of a show he was doing for CBC called "Play."
"I did go, and I went alone...I wanted the night out."
"He saw me, his eyes lit up and he said 'you came.'"
Show was being taped in a restaurant, she sat by the bar, not far from Ghomeshi.
Vibe? It was good.
When show over he asked me to wait.
Complainant says she and Ghomeshi went to a pub after taping of the show.
"He ordered a Heineken, I ordered a ginger ale."
"I remember thinking he's funny, intelligent, charming, he opens doors, he's a perfect gentleman."
"I thought what a nice guy."
After pub (where Ghomeshi pays bill), they walk to his car, he offers a ride to her car, which is parked nearby.
Complainant notices Ghomeshi drives a yellow Volkswagen Beetle.
"I'm thinking he's humble , charismatic, he opens doors....and he drives a Disney car."
"I'm feeling very safe at the moment."
"He's kissing me and when he's kissing me, he reaches around my head and he grabs my hair really, really hard and he pulls my head back and holds it there for 2-3 seconds."
"I'm in my mind ow ow ow, thinking what have I gotten myself into and then he stops."
"I wasn't sure what had just happened. He had been so nice and I didn't really know what to do or say but he had stopped. and then he said something along the lines, and I don't recall precisely..he said something like do you like it like that or do you like this."
"And I don't like it like that, or like this or anything like this. It's not my style to be pulling hair."
Complainant says she said something but it wasn't forceful.
"Whatever I said was not very strong...I was still absorbing the sudden change in dynamics."
"I was getting my head yanked but it felt almost like a rage that wasn't there the second before he did it."
Says a few seconds later, the entire mood in the car switched back again:
"It was painful and sudden...and then he's back again to the nice guy."
"It was very confusing."
Complainant says after that she left, she was kissed goodbye by Ghomeshi. Says she kissed him back because "he had switched back to the nice guy and I questioned whether he actually meant to hurt me."
Says she saw him again at another show taping, spoke briefly with him, not much happened that time.
Saw him again in January, went to a taping of his show again, this time with a friend. Three of them went to a pub after, then they dropped friend off at the subway, while Ghomeshi and complainant went on to Ghomeshi's house. He had invited her over.
She walked in, he was putting on some music, putting things away. They sat on the couch together, flirting, started kissing. Then she stands, is looking around, they are kissing while standing.
"He's the same charming, charismatic nice guy that he was other than that time in the car."
Complainant says Ghomeshi then somehow ends up behind her and pulls her hair "extremely hard."
"He grabs my hair again, really hard, harder than the first time."
"And he pulls my head down and at the same time he's punching me in the head multiple times and I'm terrified. I don't know why he's doing this. I don't know if he's going to stop, can I take this pain."
Says she ends up on her knees, ears ringing.
"I was dizzy, disoriented, I felt like I had walked into a pole or hit my head on the pavement, it was that strong and I thought I was going to pass out."