Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Annals of justice

The mills of the law grind on:
  • I blogged about the vicious prosecution of Peter Fonteece back in February. A crusading Crown attorney went after one of the most vulnerable people in our population, a plea bargain was struck, and Fonteece heard his fate on May 13. Probation, a little community service, no jail.

    The Globe & Mail describes this shameful episode perfectly today:

    There may have been a more cruel and shameful prosecution somewhere in Canadian history – perhaps the one involving Viola Desmond of Nova Scotia, for sitting in a white section of a segregated movie theatre in 1946 – but for the recent past, the case of R v. Fonteece in Thunder Bay, Ont., may top them all as an example of the bullying of the weak by the strong.
    This was a man who needed help to recover and get on his feet. He should never have been charged, nor should he have spent 70 days in custody, as if he were a threat to hurt someone or flee.

    When Mr. Fonteece’s wife killed herself, he lost everything he had in the world. “He grieves her loss,” said Madam Justice Helen Pierce of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. “It is he who has suffered most from her death.” She went on to say, “Had they enjoyed supportive friendships, perhaps they would not have felt so alone. Perhaps they would have not felt so desperate.” She expressed hope that Mr. Fonteece could find supports in his life and meaningful activity. Her statements went some way toward redeeming a legal system that leapt on the weakest of the weak at the moment of his greatest tragedy.

    UPDATE: The decision (h/t a commenter).

  • All criminal charges against former attorney general of Ontario Michael Bryant have been withdrawn. Given the facts in evidence at the time--he was attacked in his car by a drunken hoodlum and tried to shake him off, ending in the thug's death--this sensible decision is welcome.

  • Omar Khadr: the New York Times editorializes; the Obama administration is split; and the kangaroo court ploughs on, minus a few journalists.

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