The editor of a controversial Toronto free-sheet is basing a legal appeal against a conviction for racial hatred in part on his lawyer’s refusal to defend Holocaust denial.
James Sears, the editor of free publication Your Ward News, and its publisher, LeRoy St. Germaine, are appealing against their 2019 convictions for wilfully promoting hatred against Jews and women. Speaking at his appeal last week, Mr Sears argued that his lawyer, Dean Embry, was incompetent because he had failed to call witnesses to defend his Holocaust beliefs, for “fear of appearing antisemitic or of angering the judge.”
At his trial, Mr Sears stated that he did not believe gas chambers were used in the killing of six million Jews and claimed he had a “right to file a truth defence on historical facts.”
When finding the two men guilty last year, the Ontario Judge said that the case against them was overwhelming and noted that they “promoted hate to a vast audience in an era where online exposure to this material inexorably leads to extremism.” Mr Sears was given the maximum one-year jail sentence and granted bail pending appeal. St. Germaine was given 12 months’ strict house arrest. The judge said that he would have given longer sentences if the statutes allowed.
Mr Sears, 57, who likened himself to “an actor who portrays a lawyer on TV,” is handling his own appeal.
Testifying, Mr Sears said that at his trial he had repeatedly urged his lawyer to call witnesses in an effort to undermine the testimony of the prosecution’s experts on antisemitism and misogyny, but his lawyer had refused.
Mr Embry said that, while he considered Mr Sears’ views about the Holocaust to be indefensible, he believed that they “had a shot at raising a doubt about whether the accused had been promoting hate.”