Alfie’s fight sparks JComm dispute

Queen's Certificate in Law

AAC Academic Grievance Centre

Student disagrees with AMS chief prosecutor’s settlement after Nov. 9 incident; wins hearing

Erik Orava was involved in an altercation at Alfie’s on nov. 9. His case was settled with the AMS Judicial Committee on Feb. 1.
Erik Orava was involved in an altercation at Alfie’s on nov. 9. His case was settled with the AMS Judicial Committee on Feb. 1.

Just after 1 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2006, Erik Orava was standing on the dance floor at Alfie’s when he felt
someone grab him and lock him into a choke hold.

“I lost breath and fell to the ground,” he told the Journal.

John Doe, whose name has been changed because he settled in a private hearing with the AMS Judicial Committee, maintained his hold.

Orava tried to break free and then felt doe bite down on his finger.

“I was in a state of shock,” Orava said. “I was choked out. I could have passed out. My nail had basically come off, and my finger was bitten down to the bone.”

Doe told the Journal he didn’t want to go into the details of the fight.

“It happened, and it was fuelled by alcohol, for one thing,” he said. “The police put on record that we were both too drunk to really, you know, understand what was going on.”

The two students grappled, and Queen’s Student Constables, in accordance with their “hands-off”
policy, shouted for the two to stop. According to witnesses, Doe and Orava were eventually separated
and placed in opposite corners of the bar.

Although there’s disagreement between the specific cause of the incident, both Orava and Doe have mentioned in their incident descriptions that Orava had insulted doe’s female friend at some point in time.

Queen’s First aid arrived and treated Orava’s finger, which was still bleeding.

The Kingston police arrived about 45 minutes later. Doe told the Journal the police called the incident at alfie’s a “high-school fight,” and told him to go home.

Orava, who works as a StuCon but was not working that night, said he wanted to press charges against doe, but police didn’t want to pursue the incident, citing a lack of evidence.

Kingston Police could not be reached to comment on the police’s policy regarding on-campus incidents.
When Orava left alfie’s, he went to Kingston General Hospital for medical assistance.

The next day, a long judicial process began to decide the altercation’s repercussions, the results of which are still being questioned by both parties involved.

* * *

Jenn Mansell, AMS chief prosecutor, said that after someone files a complaint with the prosecutor’s office of a violation of the Code of Conduct, the office and the respondent(s) arrange a settlement to be presented at a closed hearing to the AMS Judicial Committee.

The three principles of the AMS non-academic discipline system, as stated on its website, are to be entirely student-run, non-adversarial and restorative. Settlements can result in sanctions such as a fine, a bond-—money to be held as collateral for good behaviour—-community service, a tri-pub ban, letters of apology and a recommendation to the senate for suspension or expulsion from the university.

However, if the respondent disputes the facts as gathered and presented by the prosecutor’s office, the case will be brought to the AMS Judicial Committee (JComm) for a public hearing.

Before a public hearing, JComm receives from the prosecutor’s office a brief description of the case, including the name of the respondent and the incident’s date. Having access to the name before the hearing allows JComm to voice concerns if they have any conflicts of interest.

* * *

With a $200 bond, Doe settled with the prosecutor’s office shortly after the incident. However, it took
until the end of last semester for Orava and Mansell to meet to discuss Orava’s settlement.

While Orava’s case was pending, he was subject to a temporary tri-pub ban, leaving him unable to work as a StuCon. Mansell said the process was so drawn-out because Orava kept cancelling meetings.

“He would get back to me days after our meeting and would not show up for meetings and then write me a letter three or four days later,” she said. “He had plenty of time to come meet with me and he didn’t and he wasted my time a lot. This could have been dealt with immediately. He held it up.”

Orava said he originally had difficulty setting up a meeting with Mansell because of timing conflicts.
as a fourth-year biology student, Orava said, he has a lot of lab work to do on his thesis, which made scheduling a meeting difficult. “Two of [the meetings] I scheduled after a class and I actually was in the lab before that, so I had to go back and [finish my work there],” he said. “Two or three of [the meetings] she missed. We had meeting times and I went and she wasn’t there,” he said, adding that he also missed one scheduled meeting because he had to go home to Toronto to work an extra shift on a friend’s plumbing site to make up for the financial hardship of not being able to work as a StuCon.
When they met at the end of last semester, Mansell offered Orava a $200 fine and $150 bond.

She said that normally in an altercation situation, both individuals would receive a tri-pub ban, but she didn’t recommend such a sanction in this case because banning Orava from pubs would result in the loss of his job as a stuCon. After Mansell’s first meeting with Orava, she decided to give both Orava and Doe equal sanctions, which meant doe’s sanction changed from a $200 bond to a $200 fine and a $150 bond.

“I felt a bond and a fine combination—a fine to represent restoration and restitution for what they’d taken out of the community and a bond to represent deterrence—would be adequate,” she said.

Doe said he re-settled in a private hearing because he thought the proposed sanctions were restorative. “Considering the fact that the rule is such that if an incident happens … the StuCons have to shut down the pub, I can understand it from a lost revenue point of view. I’ll pay a fine, restore some money back to the AMS for half an hour of drinking they didn’t profit off of,” he said.

Orava, however, disagreed with the portrayal of events by the prosecutor’s office, insisting that the incident wasn’t a fight, but an assault of which he was the victim. “It’s the principle of the matter. Paying the fine is admitting I did something wrong,” he said. “If I was involved or started it, I’d say bond, fine, [but] I’m not having this on my record for having done nothing wrong.”

Because Orava disagreed with the prosecutor’s determination of the events, a public hearing was set
for Feb. 1 to allow him to present his case. Orava said Mansell asked him to provide evidence from witnesses to back his description of the Nov. 9 incident. Orava asked a friend, who was at Alfie’s that night and saw the beginning of the fight, to e-mail her testimony of what happened to Mansell.

“[Mansell] had sent out an e-mail to my witness, and my witness sent an e-mail back [at the beginning of January],” he said, adding that Mansell told him a few days before his Feb. 1 hearing that she hadn’t received the testimony. Orava had his witness e-mail Mansell again, and her testimony was presented at the hearing. “It could have been a miscommunication problem, but I don’t really see that between Qlink accounts,” Orava said.

* * *

At the Feb. 1 public hearing, Mansell presented the evidence and testimonies she had gathered from the TaPs manager on duty at Alfie’s that night, the head stuCon and Orava’s friend. Mansell recommended to JComm that fair restitution for both individuals would be a $200 bond and a $150 fine. Orava also offered his side of the case, and both he and Mansell answered questions from
JComm members. The testimony from the manager on duty at alfie’s and the head stuCon were based on what they heard from students within the bar.

Orava told the committee he had concerns about their testimony. “It’s not even evidence. … It’s speculation, and speculation at best.” After both sides delivered their testimonies, the committee left to
deliberate the case.

Less than 20 minutes later, they returned and chair Laura brazil delivered the committee’s decision—that no sanctions be imposed on Erik Orava. “The Committee was faced with virtually no evidence to support or disprove the respondent’s claim of self-defence,” Brazil said in the official JComm decision tatement released yesterday.

“Thus, the Committee found that self-defence was equally as likely as willful participation. Since the onus is on the Prosecutor’s Office to provide some credible evidence that the respondent did not act in self-defence, the Committee found that no sanctions should be imposed on the respondent.”


Read Friday’s issue of the Journal for the respondents’ reactions to JComm proceedings.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.