Mr. Jetz: a cautionary tale on how not to apply for bail

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(Darrell Ackman/Winnipeg Sun)

Darrell Ackman, AKA the notorious Mr. JetzTV, wants you to know “the truth.”

Those are his words, not mine.

That’s straight from the former MLA hopeful’s lips today after he rejected an opportunity to put a publication ban in place on his case pending trial. He also rejected an opportunity to hire a lawyer to represent him.

Make no mistake. Today was a crucial turning point in the Queen v. Ackman.

It sets the tone for everything that will follow in a case of immense public interest to see prosecuted.

Ackman, arrested on May 8 after a scuffle with Winnipeg cops who were trying to arrest him on breaches of his prior bail order, made another bail application today.

You can read the meat and potatoes of it here.

While that article will get you up to speed, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the details of his life and history he disclosed during his three-hour-long submission to Judge Harvie.

And by and large, virtually everything he had to say was irrelevant to the matter at hand.

It is 100 per cent Ackman’s right to represent himself in court.

But as the pithy truism goes: A person who represents himself has fool for a client.’

Ackman’s situation today, to me, demonstrates the truth in this.

I stand by my position that today’s hearing should have been videotaped (no pun intended) for 1st-year law students as an example of the perils of representing yourself.

If Manitoba Justice hasn’t already ordered a transcript of his three-hour-long, rambling, submission today, I can guarantee you they will in coming days.

Ackman was duly warned: Anything he might say at the hearing — especially statements against his interest — could be used by the Crown at any future hearing.

You want to pick your comments carefully,” Judge Mary Kate Harvie told him, prior to explaining to him how “judicial interim release” works in Canada.

I’m no lawyer by any stretch — but I’ve come to understand a little sage wisdom about bail applications.

Rule number one: Barring a major, glaring hole in the Crown’s case, people seeking interim release should focus on their bail plan and not the allegations of their case; how they will satisfy the court they’ll either a] show up to deal with their charges b] not pose a risk for reoffending.

(I’ll leave out the public confidence aspect as it’s a seldom used ground in release hearings. It was raised today but didn’t form part of Harvie’s decision to deny and revoke).

Objectively speaking, Ackman could have made a succinct argument that for the many months he’s been free in the community [barring his recent breach allegations for sticking up posters at or near schools] he’s been compliant with his bail orders [a release secured by a $25,000 surety in his 79-year-old mom’s name].

He could have argued that the Crown’s concerns on his being free could be met by tightening up his curfew to an absolute one instead of a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. one, for example.

Hell, he could have at least presented the court with a definite address at which he planned to live at pending trial.

He didn’t. Instead, he said he believes he should be allowed to live wherever he wants.

That, even with a judge whose patience bordered on saint-like today, surely cemented the rejection of his application.

Here’s some other things over the course of three hours Ackman did have to say — and remember, it’s all from his lips.

So take that for what it is. Also remember: he was cautioned to pick his comments carefully.

  • “You know who I am right?,” he told the court near the very start of his submission. “Some people call me Mr. JetzTV.”
  • He gave the court a wealth of detail of his years (2003-2010) in Miami FLA, how he was charged down there but wound up bailed out in less than 24 hours after being picked up in a prostitution sting, how he was soon back on the streets with access to his cellphone and computer, but without his beloved/signature “bumblebee” Camaro. He came back to Winnipeg on a trip to visit family. He says he tried to go back to deal with the related charges — Ackman says a deal with reached for probation and all he needed to do was go back and sign the papers — but was turned back at the Winnipeg airport.
  • A self-proclaimed Winnipeg Jets fanatic, Ackman says losing the team in the 90s was like having the “heart ripped out of the city.” He told a story about being a Winnipeg Free Press carrier when he was pre-teen and could buy tickets for $5.
  • The “Mr. Jetz” persona was partially created because of his vast arcane trivia knowledge of the hockey team and its players. His Google YouTube channel, he says, was set up in 2010-2011? with help from his teenaged niece — whom he called his “best friend” — a relative he can’t have contact with due to his pending charges.
  • His mom was a veteran Kindergarten teacher — he says he remembers being taken to school by her at a very young age. In fact, he says his memory is amazing. He went on to go to school at Jefferson Jr. high and then Garden City Collegiate.
  • He objected to his Florida mug shot being used by city newspapers. “Is it allowed to be in a Winnipeg newspaper?,” he asked, also wondering if media publishing his release conditions violated a prior publication ban in his case (it didn’t).
  • “I don’t want to get in trouble ever again,” he said.
  • He spent a very long time challenging the most minor allegation he faces — a mischief charge from winter 2012 where he’s accused of scratching the Mr. Jetz logo into a car at the Highland Arena. “Mr. Jetz is not into damaging things,” he said. [note the 3rd-person usage]. The case lacks evidence, he claims.
  • Several times he referenced being a major fan of CSI: Miami and its main detective character, Horatio Caine and that fictional character’s lines regarding the quality of evidence.
  • He says Mr. Jetz has achieved “celebrity status” in a city like Winnipeg, where “there’s not much going on.”
  • He then talked about backing off from the persona to help his niece get a start with a music career. “I don’t think my YouTube videos they’re going to go anywhere,” he says he told her.
  • He then moves on to the fact one of the vulnerable girls related to his case has died, apparently from suicide. “I don’t like people dying,” he said.
  • “I really feel like I’m being bullied right now,” he says, later saying he has a solution to the growing problem of cyberbullying, should the court wish to hear it.
  • He says a number of people he’s met at Headingley Correctional — he says he’s made more than 40 “friends” — “don’t look guilty.” He talks about the case of Matthew Emmerling, the Ohio trucker facing a potential two-year term for bringing child pornography across the border and recently pleaded guilty. “Guilty seems to be the popular thing,” he said of the Manitoba justice system. Cops are “not the most honest people,” Ackman says. “They all know where I live. They all carry guns.” He denies biting one cop in his recent arrest, saying biting is not his thing.
  • He loves “cars, pretty girls, beaches.”
  • Cops can say “whatever they want” in their reports and there’s no refuting it. How “discovery” (perhaps he meant ‘disclosure’) is really just one person’s opinion.
  • He spent a long time talking about acquiring a voice recorder to use as a diary, to tape calls and conversations.
  • He says the Winnipeg press has “murdered” his reputation — that his big mistake was calling local CBC to see if they wanted to talk about his story.
  • He says his run for MLA of Whyte Ridge was well-intentioned to “turn Mr. Jetz into something positive,” a redemptive effort, but was quickly spun in the media as “How come the criminal is running for an election?”
  • “I love girls that look adult. And if they say they’re adult, I trust them.”
  • Says his alleged young victims may have criminal histories and he wants to see documentation. “There’s going to be some cross-examining going on.” Ackman says the girls — whom he considered his friends — didn’t have “a problem with me then.”
  • If the Winnipeg police have to comb Facebook for evidence, he says, then there’s a major problem. He accused police of doing “sloppy” policework.
  • “That’s one hell of a poster,” he told Harvie of his casting-call efforts [full disclosure: he even asked two cops if they ‘wanted to be in a movie on the courthouse steps one day. This was witnessed by me and a local defence lawyer].
  • He talked about how cops told him things might be different if he had signed “contracts” with the alleged victims.
  • “Right now it just kind of feels like my eggs are being crushed before they hatched,” he said after relaying some anecdote about being a boy and seeing some birds near his home.
  • He claims police came seeking a blood sample from him one day, apparently in connection to the death of a woman. He said a name I won’t repeat here. He says his mom freaked out at their request.
  • Police, it seems, “have a voodoo doll with my name on it” and are sticking pins into it until he “disappears,” Ackman says.
  • He says at Headingley, he was housed in a cell with two hard-looking inmates, whom he quickly won over. “That’s what Mr. Jetz does. Makes friends.”
  • In jail, he plays video games, basketball and ping-pong. “I actually feel safe because there’s no police harassing me.”
  • He says a police supervisor told him: “You’re not going to be getting out on bail this time, Mr. Jetz.”
  • Most lawyers he’s consulted, he says, just advised him to “plead out” but he’s not going to admit to something he didn’t do.
  • “The police have my passport. I have nowhere to go. I have no intention of going anywhere right now.”
  • Missing women in Manitoba are “a huge problem for police, and I agree its a major problem.”
  • “Maybe I’ll change my name legally,” to Mr. Jetz, he says.
  • Will he show up to court if bailed out? “Yes I will. Check that.” Later, he answers the same question: “I think so.”
  • He says he wasn’t offered his “Miranda rights” (his actual words) in his last arrest. “They let me call a lawyer,” but didn’t give him his rights.
  • Some of his prior bail conditions could be considered “comical,” he says, in terms of their enforceability.
  • Being in jail on remand is “kind of like a vacation, really.”
  • He claimed the fact he can’t use computers was “wasting” his talents.
  • “Will I reoffend? No.”
  • The girls: “They told me they were legal, but they weren’t.”
  • In Florida, he felt like “Hugh Hefner.”
  • If we’re going to stop abusive police behaviour in Manitoba: Mr. Jetz has the solution, he says. “Videotape everything.”
  • His ten months problems free on bail and turning up to every court date? Ackman says he deserves a “gold medal.”
  • “I don’t see why I would be a threat to anybody.”
  • The alleged victims, he says, could have walked out the door or jumped out of the car.
  • “I really should be able to go wherever I want.”
  • “You’re putting me on the spot,” he told Harvie toward the end of the hearing, when she asked him to focus on the plan for his release.
  • He can’t defend himself unless he has access to Facebook and a computer.
  • His mother is “shaken” by the whole affair, he says. Instead of returning to live with her, he’d rather live with his friend. How much of a surety might be available, isn’t clear.

So, that’s certainly not all of it. But I have to stop.

But all the while I was hearing this, I couldn’t help but think if Ackman instinctively knew his application was doomed to fail as presented: that the whole hearing was just another publicity stunt in the name of Mr. JetzTV.

But again, today marked a turning point in his case — a case which he says he “knows better than anyone” and was willing to take to a trial tomorrow.

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