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2006 – ‘You’re going to have to be prepared to play by the rules,’ Gower said

Whitehorse Star
April 28, 2006
Page unknown
Man’s action against government adjourned

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower has granted a requested adjournment for former Yukoner Sa Tan in his case against the territorial government.

On Wednesday, the judge made it clear that in representing himself, Tan will have to be as familiar with court rules as any other litigant is.

‘You’re going to have to be prepared to play by the rules,’ Gower said just before the matter was moved to May 12.

Tan, also known as Brian Salmi, has taken the government to court over its revocation of the job offer of communications manager for the Department of Economic Development made to him in 2004. Ten days after he was hired, the government withdrew its offer of employment.

In court documents, Tan stated the reason given by the Public Service Commission for his dismissal was that he hadn’t used his correct legal name, Sa Tan, when he was hired. Instead, he opted to go by Brian Salmi.

Several years ago, he legally changed his name to sound like ‘Satan’.

Last month, the government brought forward the notice of motion that was to be heard Wednesday.

It would dismiss part of Tan’s claims over defamation and conspiracy as well as to remove the individually-named defendants so it would just be the government named in the matter, and deal with a few other matters on the case.

Tan now lives Outside and attended court through a conference call. He argued that not only did he not have enough time to prepare for the case, but the half-day allotted for court was not enough time for both the territory’s lawyer and himself to present their arguments.

Tan said when the territory’s lawyer, Zeb Brown, turned down his request for an adjournment to a future date, he put in a request for a pre-trial conference so he could get some clarity on a number of matters, including the evasiveness of the government and document disclosure.

As Gower pointed out there are legal options open to Tan to deal with documents not being disclosed to him.

Tan continued to argue he’s still trying to understand the court system. Even without those matters, Tan said, there wouldn’t be enough time allotted for Brown to present his case, let alone for himself to respond.

Asked by Gower how long he expected his matter to take, Brown replied it would likely take him an hour, give or take a bit, to present his case.

If time runs out, it could be adjourned to a later date, he said.

With the outline of Brown’s argument not provided to Tan until two days before court, Tan said he wasn’t given the proper time to prepare for the case.

‘Mr. Brown seems to have completely disregarded my need for time,’ said Tan.

While Gower noted it’s a complicated case, it’s something the court will have to deal with it at some point.

The judge also said Brown’s affidavit was provided to Tan on March 17, within the proper timeframe under the rules of court.

Brown argued against the adjournment, noting that there were attempts made to contact Tan.

On March 3, Tan was contacted and told of the territory’s intention to make the application; however, the territory received no reply.

‘That’s why we went ahead,’ said Brown.

While the territory would normally be required to provide Tan with an outline of its case seven days prior to it being heard in court, in this case it wasn’t, because Tan never responded to its affidavit.

That means he’s not considered a respondent and therefore the requirement to provide an outline a week in advance is gone.

Brown suggested Tan is aware of the regulations required to be a respondent, having provided a response on a matter last year.

Gower agreed, saying the reason Tan didn’t get an outline until two days before is that he didn’t respond.

‘It’s not new to you. You filed a response on previous (matters),’ said Gower. If Tan intends to litigate his case, he has to be familiar with the rules, the judge said.

The line that he’s not familiar with the rules is wearing thin, said Gower.

Tan said those items could have been clarified through a pre-trial conference.

‘Well we’re clarifying them now,’ the judge replied.

Gower later told Tan that though he may not be a lawyer, he’s an intelligent person who can read the rules of court.

While Gower opted to go for the adjournment until May 12, booking a full day for the case, he made it clear he’s not happy with Tan’s failure to file a response.

He then advised the parties there will be no further adjournments unless there are exceptional circumstances.

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