Not testifying deemed a good call for Ghomeshi’s...
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Feb 09, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Not testifying deemed a good call for Ghomeshi’s defence

Experts say “Ghomeshi brand” may be beyond rehabilitation in any case


The decision not to call Jian Ghomeshi to the witness stand at his sexual assault trial is drawing a universal reaction among criminal defence lawyers: It’s a good call.

From the perspective of what it does to Ghomeshi’s image, reactions are more mixed. Some believe the so-called “Ghomeshi brand” is dead and beyond rehabilitation anyway, while others think not testifying hurts his image even further.

“I am not surprised that he is not testifying,” said defence lawyer and former Crown attorney Antonietta Raviele. “The only reason to put Mr. Ghomeshi on the stand to testify would be if the evidence in the Crown’s case was strong enough to require a response by him.

“I’m going to say that (Ghomeshi’s lawyer Marie) Henein made a decision early on to try to eviscerate the witnesses’ credibility so as not to have to call Mr. Ghomeshi. I think she succeeded.”

She added that the decision to not testify “likely signals his defence team’s confidence that he will be acquitted.”

Henein indicated in court Tuesday that she was prepared to present her closing arguments to Justice William Horkins on Thursday, meaning Ghomeshi, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, will never have to offer his side of the story on the stand, as is his right.

While Henein could advise Ghomeshi about whether to testify, the decision would have ultimately rested with him.

Throughout the trial, Henein has poked holes in the three complainants’ stories in an effort to secure the “reasonable doubt” necessary for Ghomeshi’s acquittal.

“At the start of this trial, it was hard to imagine a scenario where Ghomeshi wouldn’t testify,” said lawyer Daniel Brown.

“After hearing all three complainants testify, his lawyers have determined that the judge could not believe their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Most people who observed this trial unfold would agree with that decision.”

Then there’s the question of image. Legal considerations aside, could testifying and sharing his version of events have helped to improve Ghomeshi’s image in the public eye, even slightly?

“Found guilty or not guilty, the ‘Ghomeshi brand’ is beyond salvation,” concludes Scott Reid, principal at communications firm Feschuk Reid. “Perhaps some marginal misguided men’s rights group will put his face on their flag. But in the real world, he will live forever under a dark cloud. Testifying would make that worse, not better.”

He pointed out that Ghomeshi would probably have to answer questions under cross-examination about the link he draws between violence and arousal, and his definition of “rough sex,” which could possibly damage his reputation even further.

“There would be scant hope of appearing as anything other than a miscreant,” he said.

Bill Walker, principal at MidtownPR, said he believes not testifying will ultimately hurt Ghomeshi’s image.

“I think people will conclude that he can’t credibly speak to his actions, or he’s not prepared to credibly speak to his actions,” he said. “Otherwise, if he was a good witness for the defence, Marie Henein would presumably have put him on the stand.

“Acknowledging that the purpose of the trial is not to rehabilitate his image, it could have provided an opportunity for him to at least explain his side of the story.”

But Wayne Roberts, chief creative officer at Blade Creative Branding, said all hope is lost, and that testifying is not going to do Ghomeshi any favours.

“The Jian Ghomeshi brand is dead,” he said. “This is just a guy named Ghomeshi who is going to fade into obscurity, and I predict will write a book about how the media that used to love me killed me.”

Toronto Star

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