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Mayor’s conflict trial postponed until May

A squabble over a contentious scheduling issue in Newmarket court led to the recent postponement of the conflict of interest case brought by Gino and Mary Ruffolo against Mayor Linda Jackson.

Jackson lawyer John Lo Faso was successful in winning an adjournment from Superior Court Justice Cory Gilmore after arguing the March 20 court date was improperly set without his input.

“As an officer of this court, I’m saying I did not consent to that date,” Lo Faso told the court. “I wasn’t prepared to do this today.”

The Ruffolos allege the mayor breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act at a closed-door meeting of council in November by influencing council’s decision to launch a $395,000 lawsuit against them for breaching a 2006 settlement.

Jackson should not have participated in that meeting because she was before the court for legal action brought forward in June by Gino Ruffolo and Quintino Mastroguiseppe, the Ruffolos allege in their suit filed in December.

Lo Faso said an adjournment was necessary to properly scrutinize evidence contained in affidavits filed in the case.

“Justice isn’t done unilaterally,” he said. “Mr. Gillespie is asking this court to accept the evidence that is unchallenged.”

Gillespie fired back, saying he had attempted to consult Lo Faso but received no reply.

“I’m very troubled because my friend has made allegations that I haven’t heard before,” Gillespie countered, adding Lo Faso had knowledge of the March 20 court date on Feb. 22.

Gillespie argued that any further delay in the proceedings would be prejudicial to his clients because of the intense public and media interest in the breach of settlement case filed against the Ruffolos by the city.

In addition, “if this court were to find that the mayor was in conflict … that lawsuit would stop,” he argued. “You’ve got a $400,000 train going down the track that should not have left the station.

“That’s a very real prejudice.”

Lo Faso dismissed the connection, saying one case does not impact on the other.

“Even if it’s found that Jackson — and it’s disputed — breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, that does not change the lawsuit,” he said, careful not to concede anything.

Gilmore awarded $500 to Lo Faso, a third of what he had asked for, to be paid by the Ruffolos within 30 days.

April 22 was scheduled for Lo Faso’s cross-examinations. The trial is set to resume the week of May 12.

Vaughan Today
Online: March 31, 2008 [link]