After a month of speculation, former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi appeared in a Toronto courtroom today, charged with four counts of Sexual Assault and one count of Overcoming Resistance by Choking. These charges are extremely serious, carrying a potential life sentence. His lawyer, Marie Henein, indicated that Mr. Ghomeshi will be pleading not guilty. He was released on $100,000 bail and ordered to remain within Ontario. His next court appearance is January 8th.
This whole Jian Ghomeshi debacle has been a cultural and media firestorm. There are countless articles, commentaries, conversations and opinions swirling throughout Canada. There has certainly been a positive outcome, that being, that the issue of unreported violence against women is at the forefront of public discourse, and we are seeing that it is a problem more widespread than most of us realized.
From time to time we act as duty counsel, representing newly arresested people in the Vancouver Jail. Read Michael's account of a typical weekend as duty counsel in this Georgia Straight article:
Restorative Justice (“RJ”), or what is also sometimes referred to as Transformative Justice, is a contrast to the traditional adversarial justice system. In the adversarial justice system an accused person is represented by a criminal defence lawyer, the public (or the state or the Crown) is represented by a government prosecutor known as Crown Counsel, and those two lawyers are pitted against each other in the court system. The court system is ruled by judges.
In the news today, another example of what appears to be police brutality in British Columbia. A Terrace, BC RCMP officer punches an alleged young offender (under 18 years old) in the face while the young offender is on the ground, face down, in handcuffs and is being straddled by the officer.
Sadly, a 71 year old pedestrian has died after being struck by a cyclist in Stanley Park on October 3 near the totem poles at Brockton Point.
Apparently the man was crossing the roadway when a 57 year old rider collided with him. Reportedly, the cyclist remained at the scene and cooperated fully with police. The pedestrian suffered a fatal head injury when his head hit the pavement.
Two recent cases that have hit the media shine light on the BC SPCA’s newer powers regarding search warrants in relation to animals in distress (stories attached). In one case the owner of a dog who had ingested drugs and been taken to the veterinarian was reported to the SPCA. In the other case the owner of a dog who had abused his dog while being filmed by a security camera in an elevator was reported. In both instances BC SPCA officers attended at private residences, armed with search warrants, made entry and seized the animals.
Some people turn to alcohol or overeating, others turn to shoplifting in a time of stress.
Certainly, cyber bullying and harassment is a serious and issue in North American society, but recent claims that there is a need for a change in the current criminal law to deal with it may be overzealous.
Despite Crown Counsel's remarks that the case was "an Amanda Todd Situation", we were able to convince a North Vancouver Provincial Court Judge that our client should not be sentenced to the nine month period of incarceration sought by the Crown. Emphasising the need for denunciation, but tempering his sentence because he accepted that our client was a truly remorseful youthful man with no prior record, Judge Merrick placed our client on probation and ordered that he serve 20 consecutive weekends in custody.