A provincial court judge in Prince Rupert, B.C., has sentenced a 46-year-old man to a year in jail for contempt of court, ruling he tried to circumvent the justice system with “pseudo-legal” and “stupid” arguments.
Judge David Paterson sentenced Cameron Hardy, in part to deter others from subjecting the court to the theory known as “organized pseudo-legal commercial arguments.”
Paterson’s ruling details how Hardy, who was facing a charge of resisting or obstructing a peace officer in 2021, considers himself a “freeman,” meaning he won’t accept that courts have jurisdiction over him and falsely believes Canadian law doesn’t apply to him.
“The courts of British Columbia are legitimate, or they are not. There is no middle ground. There are no shades of grey,” Paterson’s ruling says. “Unfortunately for Hardy, the courts of British Columbia, including the provincial court of British Columbia, are legitimate.”
Ottawa-based lawyer Richard Warman said he was both surprised and reassured by Paterson’s ruling because courts in the past have been reluctant to treat such conduct as the “full frontal attack on the judicial system that it is.”
Warman, a human-rights lawyer who has written about pseudo-law in Canadian courts, said the judge gave Hardy every opportunity to be respectful, but he stubbornly refused in more than a dozen court appearances over a two-year period.
Cases involving those using pseudo-law arguments have usually seen defendants punished monetarily, but Warman said this ruling showed “enough is enough” with the one-year jail sentence.
“Patterson’s decision is definitely groundbreaking,” Warman said. “I think it is a real wake-up call to those who are involved in the (organized pseudo-legal commercial argument) movements.”
Hardy, who represented himself in court, was charged with “contempt in the face of the court” for refusing to recognize the court’s legitimacy or to follow the court’s orders and take part in the trial process.
In his reasons for sentence on the contempt charge, Paterson found Hardy displayed “flagrant disregard” for the court’s directions and orders.
Paterson ruled Hardy’s legal arguments could be harmful to the justice system by turning routine matters into time-consuming exercises, and “his arguments were not merely legally false but often just plain stupid.”
“Hardy’s defence was vexatious and frivolous. He had no hope of success; thus, logically, his only purpose was to frustrate the court and waste government resources.”
Paterson ruled that Hardy intended to “harm or deceive the court” with “nonsensical” legal theory.
“It seems that phraseology such as ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news’ has become increasingly prevalent in public discourse,” Paterson’s ruling says. “As a court system, we need to recognize how the growing abundance of misinformation influences people in the political, technological, and societal context, including the courtroom.”
The ruling details how Hardy was first arrested in Prince Rupert in May 2021, and charged with one count of resisting or wilfully obstructing peace officers in the execution of their duty.
Days after his arrest, Hardy was released from custody under the condition that he wasn’t allowed within 10 metres of a Prince Rupert liquor store.
In later virtual court appearances, Hardy repeatedly challenged the court’s jurisdiction over him, saying he was “not a person. I’m a man commonly called Cameron Hardy.”
His first trial date was set for Sept. 3, 2021, but Hardy wasn’t allowed in the courthouse when he refused to wear a mask.
At the time, the judge asked him over the phone if he had a letter from a doctor confirming he was unable to wear a mask for the short walk between the courthouse entrance and the courtroom where the trial was scheduled.
“I don’t need another man or woman’s permission to breathe,” Hardy replied. “I have been breathing my entire life on my own.”
The court eventually issued a warrant for Hardy’s arrest for not appearing in court on the set trial date.
Paterson’s reasons for Hardy’s sentence lays out a timeline for several court dates derailed by his “pseudo-legal arguments.”
Paterson made a ruling disallowing Hardy to file documents or make any pseudo-legal arguments at trial, telling him they wasted the court’s time and taxpayers’ money and had no chance of succeeding.
“My ruling made no difference to Hardy,” Paterson’s ruling says.
He seemed more interested in doing what he could to stop the trial from proceeding and putting on a show for his numerous acquaintances, the judge says.
The judge says didn’t order a psychiatric assessment because he found Hardy to be intelligent, but an “anti-government ideologist.”
By Darryl Greer in Vancouver, The Canadian Press