Sunday, February 03, 2008

A 'troubling' issue of trust

This one's been flying under the radar, but Chinta Puxley has brought it to the forefront - Stayed cop corruption charges 'troubling' says McGuinty.

The story involves the decision of an Ontario Superior Court judge who stayed criminal charges Thursday against six Toronto police officers because of 'unreasonable' delays caused by the Crown.

Dalton McGuinty calls the situation 'troubling', but opposition parties are clamouring for stronger leadership:

...Conservative Elizabeth Witmer said the government needs to take the time to review the decision, but the Liberals also have a responsibility to let the public know what went wrong. “I would hope that the premier is in a position to make a statement in the very near future,” she said, stopping short of calling for an inquiry. “We need to take a look at the whole system and if justice is not being done, we need to make sure that issue is addressed...

...New Democrat Peter Kormos said the stayed charges reveal a “crisis” and warrant a full public inquiry into chronic delays within the justice system....

The Toronto Star reports that lawyers allege there may have been some intentional sabotage:
"The fear I have is that members of the public will think this happened because it was the police, it (the case) was thrown out because they were police," Morton said.

"I think there has to be an accounting by the attorney-general as to why it took that long."

Former Toronto mayor John Sewell, now a member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, said there seems to have been "an extraordinary amount of money wasted on this case."

"When you get (allegations of) serious wrongdoing by police, it's really important to look at it hard," said Sewell. Coupled with allegations of police impropriety, that's a "worrisome" combination, he said. "Maybe we need a royal commission.

Along this line, today's Sun editorial points out the hypocrisy of politicians who claim to be tough on crime, but are unwilling to deal with this "Cancer in the Justice System". Indeed.

Christie Blatchford
had a piece in yesterday's Globe which is unfortunately under subscriber lock - "Police corruption case fizzles to an expensive end" - but BC Mary has very kindly parsed it for us because she feels there is a lesson to be learned regarding the Basi/Virk BC Rail case:

"...The judge frankly admitted he could 'find no explanation for the glacial progress of this prosecution' and no evidence that the prosecutors were alert to the dangers of delay and ever tried to move things along.

"Rather," he said, "the record creates an impression of compacency or perhaps a lack of awareness."

"But, continues Blatchford, "the second part of the answer is arguably found in the fact that these were no ordinary Crown attorneys from the gritty trenches of Ontario's crowded courtrooms who oversaw this screw-up, but rather those with the Special Prosecutions Unit of the Ontario AG's office, the very branch tasked specifically to handle ... the prosecution of the province's police officers charged with serious crime. In a general way, the former are the grunts of the justice system ... learning the hard way the consequences of failure.

"In the same general way, the latter are the prosecutorial intelligentsia, or perhaps the technocrats: They typically have less experience in the muck and spend much of their time in appeal courts where the consequences of losing are usually less dramatic, and less severe, than those of losing a murder trial. The unit's record in rough-and-tumble criminal court in high-profile police prosecutions is spotty at best. Certainly by Judge Nordheimer's reckoning, the trio of prosecutors headed by Milan Rupic, the director of the Special Prosecutions Unit, seemed perilously, even carelessly unaware of the importance of their disclosure obligations..."

BC Mary concludes by observing that "The Ontario corruption case gives the appearance of an intentional failure."

You know, it's bad enough when the public loses confidence in politicians - at least we have to option of tossing them out. But when we have to question how corrupt and complicit the police and court systems are on top of it all, then I begin to wonder just how "democratic" this country really is, and whether we have the right to chastise others.

In any case, whether the problem is systemic corruption or gross incompetence, the whole situation is much more than simply 'troubling'.

* * * *
Update - Star: "...Sources told the Star the government knew as early as last summer that the charges could be tossed due to unconstitutional delays..."

...NDP MPP Peter Kormos (Welland) has said the "justice system is in chaos and the McGuinty Liberals are ignoring the problem."

Monday Update: AG cool to inquiry into failed corruption cases against cops - CNEWS.

Tuesday Update: Sun - No inquiry into botched cop trial.

Post - 'Groundless' to say Crown delay deliberate: A-G

Star - Police probe possible McGuinty says.

Star - Delay in police case not deliberate: Bentley.


Anonymous said...

both oppositions are correct. However the electorate let is all happen and gave McGuinty to carry on in this manner for the next 4 years.

Where's the groundswell taxpayer revolt?

Nowhere that's where.

Lots of energy on the blogrolls, however talk is cheap.

kursk said...

The cops walked because their friends in the court system allowed this to be stalled long enough that it would be thrown could see this coming from a mile away..there are a lot of dirty cops, most will never see the inside of a prison cell..

Rob R said...

"and the McGuinty Liberals are ignoring the problem."

I, for one, find that hard to believe. How could anyone think that such a leader, so beloved by the "majority" of Ontarioans, would simply ignore a crisis?

Anonymous said...

ask Kate(SDA) if the dead animal photo on her blog is a small dead lemming?

Did Kate luck out on that logo or what?

Möbius said...

These cops are presumably innocent until proven guilty. They must be royally pissed that they will not have their day in court.

Imagine the pall hanging over their lives, accused of corruption, with no chance to defend themselves.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Möbius, that's an angle I hadn't considered. Good for you.