Justice Delayed is Justice Denied in Calgary Crime

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Justice Delayed is Justice Denied in Calgary Crime

A recent story in the Calgary Sun notes that the suspect in a violent crime that occurred twnety years ago will need to wait at least another year before his trial begins.

This news is no doubt dismaying, both for the victims of the crime—who have already had to wait two decades to see an arrest made—and for the alleged perpetrator, who has been imprisoned for months and is now faced with the possibility of a much longer stay in jail before he is even able to officially respond to the charges laid against him.

As a criminal defence lawyer here in Calgary, what I find dismaying are the attitudes expressed in the comments section. The Calgary citizens chiming in not only applaud the fact that the accused will have to wait a year or more for his Charter-protected right to a trial, but which take his guilt as an established fact despite the fact that there hasn't been a trial, let alone a conviction.

Strength of Feeling Shouldn't Persuade Calgary to Allow Injustice

We human beings are an odd bunch; we purport to design our lives, our societies, and most especially our laws out of logic and reason, insisting that they remain objective and treat everyone fairly regardless of differences in belief, background, philosophies, and so on. In reality, though, we are emotionally-driven creatures who, without careful constraint, can let our passions get the better of us.

The alleged crime in this case is indeed heinous, bringing many who read or otherwise learn about it to a point of extreme anger. The immediate impulse to vilify the accused is understandable, as is the desire to see justice served. Real justice means withholding judgment until all of the facts have been carefully weighed in a court of law, though, and real justice also demands that people are not punished with lengthy imprisonments before they are found guilty.

Everyone accused of a crime deserves the benefit of the doubt, ideally from the public at large but most importantly from the criminal justice system here in Calgary. We shouldn't be punishing people out of anger; we should be conducting careful trials to determine facts and handing out punishments only according to the rules we and our legislators have established.

Your Rights to an Effective Defence Should Never Be Threatened

I am not involved in this case in my capacity as a defence lawyer; I have no idea whether the accused is guilty or not, and I won't enter moral arguments about what he "deserves" if he is ultimately found guilty. I do know that anyone in Calgary accused of a crime would be rightly upset if they were told they were to be locked up for a year while the courts got around to holding a trial, and I would fight for any one of them—even the people commenting on the Sun's website. All they have to do is ask.