Jian Ghomeshi’s legal team appeared in court this morning and was granted additional time to go over documents before setting a date for the preliminary inquiry into the sexual assault and overcoming resistance by choking charges facing the former Q host. Currently, the conditions of Ghomeshi’s bail — set at $100,000 — demand that he remain in Ontario and reside under his mother’s roof. Why does our criminal-justice system mandate that a 47-year-old man live with his mom? We asked Toronto criminal-defence lawyer Roots Gadhia (who does not represent Ghomeshi) to explain the logistics of bail conditions in Canada, and how bail guarantors are selected. Here’s what Gadhia said:
“In Jian Ghomeshi’s case, he’s charged with some very serious, very significant sexual assaults, along with choking, which is an indictable offence. So despite the fact that Ghomeshi has never been charged before, the Crown wanted to make sure that it was clearly understood [by Ghomeshi, the surety and the media] that these are serious charges, so they imposed a significant bail. The Crown also wants to reassure the alleged victims that they are going to be protected from Mr. Ghomeshi should he decide that he wants to contact them. So he wouldn’t just be released from the station.
“Ghomeshi’s bail had been worked out even before he went to court. It’s the defence’s obligation to provide a surety [or bail guarantor] if that’s required. His lawyer [Marie Henein] would have had discussions with the Crown attorney to make arrangements, not only for [Ghomeshi’s] surrender into custody for his bail hearing, but also the terms and conditions of his release. Mr. Ghomeshi is in a position to sign $100,000 — or at least his mother is — so she probably has to show that she is good for that money by [proving] that she owns her home. And because she was the surety on the bail, it was agreed that he would reside at her address.
“The Criminal Code provides specific requirements [for sureties]. One of them is that the surety not have a criminal record; that they don’t have any outstanding charges. They must also be a Canadian citizen over the age of 18 (but preferably over the age of 25). The [court] is looking for someone who is stable, responsible, and who can vouch for the person they’re signing for. You certainly don’t want to have a surety who’s only known the accused for a couple of weeks. You want a relationship that’s born out of mutual respect and understanding. The [surety] feels confident that signing bail because they won’t lose their money; the person listens to them. The surety has to put their money where their mouth is.
“In a case such as Ghomeshi’s, where it’s sensationalized and being played out in the media, I don’t know whether or not [choosing his mom as surety] was done to make him look better. I think his mom is probably the one person he can turn to who is prepared to sign $100,000. Not many people have friends who are prepared to [do that] for them.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This story is part of #Project97 — a year-long conversation about sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Visit Project97.ca for more details on this collaborative project by Rogers-owned media outlets, and join us on Twitter with the hashtag #Project97.