Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Madam Justice Blatchford Weighs in on Bryant Case

Oh to be Christie Blatchford or at least to have her uncommon, unquestioning, even unyielding belief in her own brilliance. Rarely has that been more powerfully displayed than when she gave her "two cents worth" on the criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death charges against former Ontario AG Michael Bryant.

Bryant, claims Blatchford, got "special" treatment which she implies was a curious sort of favouritism that spared him the courtroom trial any average Joe would have faced in this situation:

...Everyone agreed the charges were appropriate when they were laid, but that now, after all that had been learned since, withdrawing them was also the right thing.

Here’s what usually happens: the Crown gets the case if not the night before at best a couple of weeks before, has a quick read, and it goes to a preliminary hearing. There, the evidence is called, although not nearly as thoroughly as it was here, and the Crown might conclude, correctly, that it’s a weak case, but odds are he’d let it go to trial. At trial, the average guy probably would be acquitted
Mr. Bryant said at a press conference later Tuesday that, “Nobody is above the law. But no one’s below the law, either.”

He didn’t add that some folks get the old beater version, and some the Saab: T’was ever thus."

Sorry, Christie, but once again you're abusing the privilege of stupidity. Bryant got the full treatment. Every aspect of this awful incident was scrutinized. I've known Richard Peck and bringing him in to prosecute was no demonstration of favouritism toward Bryant. Peck was there to ensure that the Crown case was above reproach. The "old beater version" of prosecution never would have been enough. If the sort of prosecutor she or I would face was given the Bryant case there'd be a howl of outrage.

Bryant was a noted public figure, a former Attorney-General. When a person of that stature gets mixed up in an incident like this, the public expects safeguards to ensure that any crimes that were committed are prosecuted and punished. That wasn't done for Mr. Bryant's benefit and its disingenuous, dishonest even, to imply otherwise.

This case, however, does illustrate one enormous failing in our legal system. To put it crudely, you get as much law as you can afford. Money gets you the best lawyers, the most thorough investigators and so on. Money can greatly improve one's chances of a successful outcome before the Courts. Bryant went into this case with those advantages. It's hard to fault the "system" for levelling the playing field by bringing in a big gun like Richard Peck.


Mark Richard Francis said...

I agree with Blatchford, actually. My read of her is that Bryant's treatment was appropriate, but still unusual.

Serfs like me get treated quite differently. I fought a charge of Criminal Negligence Causing Death 17 years ago. When clear evidence of my innocence was placed before the Crown, my reward was not the Crown double checking and agreeing with the clear truth. Instead, the Crown placed a perjuring police officer on the stand to contradict my evidence. That didn't work. The Crown tenaciously carried on, nevertheless, for five more days of trial. My lawyer, a former Crown (now a judge), told me that wasn't unusual, as there had been a death.

The judge, fortunately, did not believe the officer. I was acquitted.

There were many other examples in the case, but I'll leave them out for brevity sake.

I've had other unsatisfying encounters with crowns and police, marked by indifference and uncalled-for bias. I very much understand why police are mistrusted by entire communities.

Yes, Bryant was treated much better than us serfs. I'm not complaining about his treatment. He deserved the treatment. Thing is, so do we all.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well Mark it sounds as though you at least had enough money to hire a good lawyer. I doubt, however, you would appreciate the tax bill if your province hired special prosecutors like Peck for every case. As Peck noted, most of the investigatory work he relied upon came from the undoubtedly generously paid defence. It was the defence, not Peck, that conducted the exhaustive investigation and forensic studies that were then delivered up to Peck on a platter. That's hardly favouritism of Bryant. He got what he paid for.

Fillibluster said...

The MSM is falling all over themselves to proclaim this a victory for justice. Sadly, that's far from true.

When the story first broke the New York Times reported that:
"Two construction workers doing repairs along the road told CTV, a Canadian television network, that the car accelerated, its tires squealing, before veering into oncoming traffic on the left side of the street.

The workers said that the motorist repeatedly mounted the sidewalk and drove near lampposts in what seemed to be an attempt to brush off the man hanging onto the side.

One of the workers said the driver was “yelling pretty loud and he sounded very, very angry.” The other worker said, “He meant to knock him off.”

Now, because there will be no trial, we will never hear their testimony.

And this is justice?

The Mound of Sound said...

From what I read, Fill, the forensics dispelled those claims about Bryant's car mounting the sidewalk. That's the enternal problem with eye-witnesses' recollections. If Bryant had driven as they claimed, there'd be plenty of evidence of it on the car and on the curbs.

Mark Richard Francis said...

The Mound of Sound,

I did the same. I paid for two engineers, and a PI. No legal aid. I was hardly in any position to pay for anything as the bail terms cost me my job (something I never told the Crown lest I ended up back in jail awaiting trial [no priors, not considered a flight risk... but money had to be posted, restrictions obeyed...]), but, oddly, despite being 26, legal aid claimed I did not qualify for a certificate because my parents, with whom I lived at the time (bail terms locked that in), made too much money (middle class) and owned their home (the nerve after 26 years of hard effort!). So they paid for everything. I was an injured, depressed mess, walkign round in duct-taped running shoes. Ugh.

The engineers told me to turn everything over to the crown, but we had some many problems with the crown and the police, that it didn't seem wise. The crown made it clear that this was going to trial regardless "because there had been a death." This was borne out at trial. When my evidence came out, the crown kept pushing.

The police forensics were poor where it mattered. The officer technician agreed that he could not calculate a vehicle speed properly becausre the bizarre accidrent was over his head, and when asked why a better expert was not sought, the reply was "too much money." Ya, as opposed to the cost of two dozen court dates, many of those full days for the prelim and trial. Bloody hell.

The judge was, thankfully, really good, and you could see him piercing the obfuscation as the trial progressed. In his ruling he said that the charge never should have been laid. He was visibly angry.

My lawyer was very good. He had a lot of insight into the crown as he had been one himself.

Not my only disappointing encounter with police and the crown since (No, no more criminal charges, just *experiences*). I treat them with great wariness.

My theme here is that Bryant did get special treatment. The treatment was appropriate, of course, just not what us serfs often get.

I read what the crown authored on the subject, and agree with the decision to drop the charges and hope everyone moves on.

ck said...

Blatchford is just pure evil...didn't see her comin' out to condemn Rahim Jaffer's reduced charges of 'careless' driving...

As I said, she's pure evil.