By Chris Pickup
Haldimand mayor Ken Hewitt is facing conflict of interest charges filed by Caledonia resident Rob Duncan.
The charges revolve around issues related to the old Caledonia Mill where Hewitt failed to declare an indirect pecuniary conflict of interest in relation to his father Ron Hewitt, and proceeded to discuss and vote on the matters at council.
Duncan was researching for a book he is writing, when he ran across evidence of conflict of interest. While some of the charges lie outside the allowable timeline for trial, they have been included as evidence of a pattern of conflict voting on the same issue.
He has since spent a considerable sum of his own money to acquire official documentation from the county clerk’s office, which is mandated to keep records of conflicts of interest indicated (or not) at all council meetings.
Duncan was in Cayuga civil court, Tuesday, the scheduled trial hearing date that has been adjourned until April 21. Hewitt was absent (he was at county council), but was represented by his lawyer T H Hill.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s roughly one hour hearing where matters related to pre-trial such as affidavits and cross-examinations were discussed, Hill asked the hearing judge to assess his court costs for the day, $500, against Duncan.
The judge noted it was up to the trial judge to decide whether or not to award court costs.
The rest of this story is this writer’s OPINION
As a lawyer Hill should have known that with no trial begun, no verdict given as to guilt or innocence, and the merit of the case undetermined, the judge could not direct costs anywhere.
Duncan has no legal representation for himself but feels he Is acting in the interests of the Haldimand community at large.
Which begs the question … why did Hill even ask?
From the cheap seats, it appears to be a not-so-veiled threat using the spectre of huge court costs down the road as a form of intimidation, and possible pressure to abandon the charges.
A cheap, unworthy, classic tactic of beating on the little guy.