Angry father tried to arrest judge
Spousal support dispute leads to assault charge
The Toronto Star, by Cal Millar, staff reporter, Jun. 26, 2002
A disgruntled father in a spousal support case is facing an assault charge after attempting to arrest his judge for "crimes against humanity."
Peter Cornakovic, 42, of Burlington, was released on $50,000 bail yesterday after a hearing in Milton court.
Cornakovic, an accountant, and past president of father's rights group Fathers Are Capable Too (FACT), who has faced a seven-year legal battle since separating from his wife in 1995, was arrested June 13 after trying to arrest Mr. Justice Terrance O'Connor.
Yesterday's bail hearing heard that, moments after O'Connor set a new date for a civil case regarding support payments, Cornakovic made his way toward the front of the court, calling out for someone to get a police officer.
The dramatic confrontation, captured on a court stenographer's recording equipment, was played at the bail hearing.
"I'm placing you under citizen's arrest for crimes against humanity," the man is heard saying, as the judge and court staff warn him to stay back.
Cornakovic was arrested by Halton Regional police and spent 12 days in custody before being released by Justice of the Peace Barbara Marko. The 15-minute recording of the civil proceedings showed Cornakovic tried to convince O'Connor he had been treated unfairly and that the money owing in arrears for support should be dismissed.
Defence lawyer Walter Fox, who represented Cornakovic at the bail hearing, said outside the court his client has been handling his own legal matters at the civil proceeding, and wanted to highlight what he perceives to be unfair treatment for men in family law.
Fox said Cornakovic "rightly or wrongly" believed the judge could be charged under a section of Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act that makes it an offence to persecute or commit an inhumane act or omission against any identifiable group.
Crown Attorney Andrew Goodman said during the bail hearing that Cornakovic slammed down a handful of legal materials he'd been carrying and walked toward the dais where O'Connor was sitting.
Goodman read reports from witnesses indicating the man grabbed O'Connor by his upper right arm. O'Connor struggled and attempted to pull away but couldn't wriggle free.
Three men grabbed the attacker, but he continued holding the judge's arm until court security staff responded to a panic alarm pressed by a clerk, the bail hearing was told.
While being taken into custody, Cornakovic can be heard telling security "there's no need for violence" and explaining he wants the judge arrested for crimes against humanity and he cites gender bias.
O'Connor was not injured, but Goodman said there's no greater affront to the justice system when there's an assault on a judge of the Supreme Court of Justice.
"We have behaviour that's very concerning," he told Marko while requesting Cornakovic be kept in jail until his trial. He added O'Connor was badly shaken by the incident.
"We have an individual who is upset, angry and frustrated against judges," Goodman said. "Clearly there's no justification for this type of behaviour. It goes against everything we stand for."
Goodman said Cornakovic's position is that his support payments should be stopped because he has custody of his children and his ex-wife is living in a 3,000-square-foot home with her boyfriend.