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December 1993: The Longtin Case -- Whose Brew This Time?

The last disciplinary court of 1993 had a very uncharitable docket consisting of twenty-three cases. The dayís hearings were unusual in that every prisoner who pleaded not guilty was found not guilty. The first hearing involved Mr. Longtin on a charge of possession of contraband. Evidence was given by Officer Shannon that while conducting a search of the range she noticed Mr. Longtin return to his cell and go over to where his locker was. She asked him to leave the cell and went to the locker area, where she found a leather pouch containing a yeast-like substance. At the bottom of the locker, under a pair of jeans, she found a bag of yeast in a commercial packet. She could not remember the brand name.

Mr. Longtin, in his defence, stated the yeast was not his and he had not put it there. The yeast belonged to Mr. Gordon, who had recently been transferred to Kent and so could not be called as a witness that day. Mr. Longtin said he had only discovered it was Mr. Gordonís yeast the previous week, when he and Mr. Gordon were in the hole together. Mr. Walters did not find Mr. Longtinís evidence credible and found him guilty. Mr. Longtin angrily challenged Mr. Walters as to how he could conclude that his story was not credible, particularly since his witness had been shipped out of the institution. Mr. Walters then reversed himself, adjourning the case to allow Mr. Longtin to call Mr. Gordon as a witness and striking his finding of guilt.

In explaining his position after the hearing to Mr. Gerl, the institutional advisor, Mr. Walters said that even though he had not found Mr. Longtin a credible witness, Mr. Longtin was entitled to present his defence, and since Mr. Gordon was an important witness, he should be given the opportunity to call him. If the matter ever came before Federal Court, Mr. Walters said, he had little doubt that a judge would conclude that denying Mr. Longtin the right to call Mr. Gordon also denied his right to present a full answer and defence to the charge.

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