At his first appearance in Timmins’ Provincial Court before Justice Martin Lambert on Tuesday, Former Timmins City Councillor Todd Lever asked that all charges against him be withdrawn.
Lever has been charged on one count of causing a disturbance contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada and one count of resisting a peace officer as a result of incidents alleged to have taken place on Nov. 26, 2016 at the McIntyre Arena during a hockey game between the Timmins Rock and the Powassan Voodoo.
The game was part of Timmins HomeTown Hockey.
A third charge for allegedly failing to leave premises when requested was eventually withdrawn.
Lever represented himself at his first court appearance on the charges, a time usually used to arrive at a mutually acceptable trial date between the Crown and accused.
Lever told the court there are potentially 1,800 witnesses that he can call at trial and that will take a long time.
“Procedurally there will be 1,800 witnesses called and those witness will include every member of the Timmins Rock, every member of the Powassan Voodoos, every attendee of the hockey game were all witnesses at this event,” Lever said.
“The witnesses will include, anyone who captured cell phone video footage, that was posted on Facebook and then taken off,” continued Lever. “The witnesses will also include most of the police officers that worked that night, all the police officers who were involved in my arrest, in front of my father, and the 200 fans that I purchased tickets for.”
“So this is going to be the trial of the century in Timmins,” Lever said. “I do not know how long it is going to take, but I ask the Crown attorney right now to do the right thing and withdraw the charges.”
“That’s the procedure,” concluded Lever. “Now if the Crown wants to elect to proceed to trial that’s fine or they could do the right thing and withdraw the charges completely.”
Crown Attorney Dale Cox responded by saying he was prepared to go to trial.
“I am not used to being asked to do something in the body of the court by threats,” responded Cox. “Mr. Lever has the right to say whatever he wants to say."
When Lever began to make his arguments as to why charges against him should be withdrawn, Justice Lambert told him he was not prepared to hear the trial today.
“I ask the Crown Attorney right now to do the right thing and withdraw the charges,” said Lever.
“That’s not going to happen,” replied Justice Lambert.
“Are you representing yourself today?” Justice Lambert asked Lever at the onset of the hearing.
“Well as you know your honour they say that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client so yes I will be representing myself,” Lever replied.
“He (Crown Attorney Dale Cox) knows these charges are bogus,” Lever added. “You can’t resist arrest without being arrested and I wasn’t even arrested when I was asked to leave.”
“And you can’t trespass, when you buy 200 tickets to a hockey game — so where is the trespassing?” added Lever.
Lever also said that he was never told to leave the arena because of a specific charge against him. He said the charge came later and; therefore, he could not be charged with resisting arrest.
“I admit to heckling, to get the team going,” explained Lever. “Hockey fans with valid tickets can do that at a hockey game or other sporting events.”
“My purpose was to rally the Timmins Rock team and point out the rough house tactics used by the Powassan team,” explained Lever.
Lever has a law practice in Timmins and was a candidate in the last federal election in 2015 for the Liberal Party as well as a mayoral candidate in 2014.
At Tuesday's appearance, it was decided Lever's trial will commence on Jan. 31 at 2 p.m.
“I think it would be wise to consider having a lawyer represent you,” Justice Lambert urged Lever.
After his first court appearance, Lever told members of the Timmins media he intended to ask the court to drop the charges, again, at his next appearance.
He also said he would take Justice Lambert up on his suggestion and consider having another lawyer represent him in court.
Charges leveled against Lever stem from a couple of incidents during the Timmins Rock-Powassan Voodoo game when Lever admittedly heckled the Powassan Voodoo players from behind the player benches on the west side of the arena.
Later Lever allegedly crossed to the east side of the arena, where the penalty boxes are situated and is alleged to have continued to heckle the Voodoo players in the penalty box.
It was at that point that on-ice officials stopped the game and ordered Lever to leave the arena. Responding to the officials request, arena staff and eventually Timmins police tried to convince Lever to leave, which he allegedly refused to do.
Eventually, Lever was escorted out of the McIntyre Arena by police.