Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Justice Denied

Christina Blizzard's column in today's Sun, Delays Derailing Ontario's Courts, she makes a point similar to one made by a reader in a recent post. Möbius observed:

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.

Blizzard drew a similar conclusion using somewhat less colourful language:

...This judicial boondoggle helps no one. And it sends a message to defence lawyers and prosecutors alike that if they rag the puck long enough, they can end up with a stalemate. This judicial foot-dragging not only makes for bad law, it is financially crippling.

Worse, it casts a shadow over the officers involved -- and on police in general.

Charges are stayed, so those accused are free to go. Presumably, they can now return to their work on the force. If I were them, and I were innocent, I would want the case to go to trial -- so I could be vindicated and walk away with my head held high.

This decision denies them that. And society as a whole has been denied a very fundamental and basic right: Judicial proof that our cops, the very people we trust to uphold the law, are honest.

Justice delayed may be justice denied. When justice is denied and it's the integrity of your police that's at stake, we've all been denied something very fundamental to a democratic society.

We obviously have a big problem here in Ontario, because if the public begins to feel suspicious of the police and loses confidence in the justice legal system, it becomes a vicious circle of more crime and more corruption.

I have no answers but sweeping it all under the rug is not an option.

* * * *
Update: We may find some answers here - Justice delayed is justice denied - Post

Friday Update: Crown appeals staying of corruption charges - Star.

Saturday Update: Behind the Toronto Police Scandal - Star.

Monday Update: Provincial prosecutions unit flawed, experts say - Star.


kursk said...

Oh...i don't think you will see any of these cops looking for another trial to prove their innocence.

Better to let sleeping dogs lay as it were..

Möbius said...

So, guilty until proven innocent?

Works well in China and North Korea, I guess.

Anonymous said...

It's a legal system, not a justice system.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

It's a legal system, not a justice system.

O.k. I'll change that. Could you please explain the difference? Thanks.

OMMAG said...

" becomes a vicious of more crime and ...."
Did you mean "viscious circle"?

I see a troubling trend not just in Ontario...... and I believe that the solution is have legislation holding judges and prosecutors and defenders accountable for failing to set and meet milestones and target dates for trials.

Can you imagine a business run like the courts?

The executive suite would be seeing new bums in the chairs before you could say 'quarterly reports'!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Did you mean "viscious circle"?

Sheesh, yeah. Really must take a break soon. Thanks.

liberal supporter said...

So, guilty until proven innocent?
No, innocent until proven guilty.

Unfortunately, we do not have a "not proven" verdict separate from "not guilty", so the cops are not guilty. They could even sue if their careers are obviously derailed by this "cloud".

However, most crooks reoffend, especially if they never get the jail time to stop and change their ways, so if they were bad cops, they'll be caught again.

I don't like the idea of legislated timelines, but they do need to speed up and streamline the system. I really dislike the plea bargains that are done to unclog the system, rather than to deal with the special cases where normal trials would not be the best way to handle a case.

Möbius said...

No, innocent until proven guilty.

Quite so. My sarcastic post was referring to the one made above it.