The British Columbia Court of Appeal has struck down a six-month prison sentence for a trans youth’s father who was convicted of contempt for publicly discussing his child’s private medical details in breach of a court order.
Instead, the appeal court sentenced the man to time served, effectively amounting to 45 days, according to the ruling released on Wednesday.
The youth had taken his father to court to stop him giving media interviews in which he identified his child and discussed their medical treatment for gender dysphoria, as well as the father’s objections to the process.
The father pleaded guilty to contempt, but his lawyer advised him to reject an offer to make a deal with the Crown for 45 days’ imprisonment, and he was instead sentenced to six months.
The three-judge appeal panel found the man’s lawyer provided ineffective assistance by not recognizing the prosecutors’ deal would have seen his client released upon his guilty plea.
The case stems from an action brought by the youth against his father in 2019, which resulted in a court banning the father from sharing his child’s name and private information.
But the father, identified only as C.D., repeatedly breached the order, continued giving interviews, and started an online crowdfunding campaign that also revealed private information about the child.
Prosecutors charged C.D. with contempt in July 2020, and in April 2021 he was sentenced to prison and ordered to make a $30,000 donation to charity.
The appeal court ruling says that C.D.’s lawyer, Carey Linde, failed to “realize that the Crown’s offer was an extremely good one and indeed such as to ensure that on pleading guilty, C.D. would be immediately released, without a criminal record.”
The donation was also deleted from the sentence, but the probation period of 18 months was upheld.