A woman convicted of mischief after representing herself in court is appealing her sentence, claiming the trial judge failed to assist her and expressing frustration at the proceedings.
Marianna Gatzke was sentenced to 30 months of probation after being found guilty of two counts of mischief on May 14 in Princeton court.
The conviction came after escalating events that took place in the small village between April 2011 and May 2013 when Gatzke would grind metal late at night in her yard while yelling profanities, court heard.
The five-day trial, longer than some murder trials, had Judge Gail Sinclair expressing frustration multiple times during the proceedings said Gatzke’s counsel Paul Evans while filing the appeal in Penticton Supreme Court Monday. Evans said that Sinclair fell short of a trial judge’s duty to assist a person representing themselves. Crown counsel Iain Currie consented to the appeal, with little opposition.
“Unfortunately what happened, in the trial judge’s own words, was the case went on for much longer than he thought necessary. He said several times that he was giving Ms. Gatzke leeway as a self-represented person,” Currie said.
Sinclair said during sentencing in May, 2015 that he gave Gatzke “considerable leeway” in the case. Evans outlined one day of the trial when Gatzke brought forward 12 subpoenas for witnesses, which Sinclair called “litigation terrorism.”
“That impatience was understandable as the questioning by the accused appears only rarely to have touched on issues of importance to the case,” Currie said.
Evans said Sinclair made a “number of dismissive and sarcastic comments.”
“The trial judge also made comments that could be interpreted as demonstrating sympathy with Crown witnesses,” Evans said.
Evans said a casual or joking-type of relationship could be interpreted with Sinclair and one of the witnesses, Adonis Barron, whom Sinclair ultimately found credible.
“At one point (Sinclair was) even finishing his answer for him,” Evans said.
Gatzke and her father, Karl Gatzke, were found not guilty of assault charges in March stemming from a June 2014 feud involving multiple neighbours, a pitchfork, a baseball bat and large sticks. Karl Gatzke is still facing charges of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, causing a disturbance, criminal harassment which he is scheduled to appear in court on in October. The appeal returns to court May 23 to schedule a future date.