And who will protect us from the judges?

I understand that occasionally, a judge will find themselves limited by the allowable punishments as written into the criminal code. I imagine  that if you are a judge bent on doing the right thing, that it can be frustrating when it seems the maximum is not enough. However, I must say that if judges expect to be taken with any kind of seriousness and respect, they had better stop making decisions that make a mockery of  the justice they are charged with serving.

  Why do I say this? Because in my opinion, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Ker just made the most unbelievable ruling in the sentencing of gangster Manny Buttar, who is going to be allowed to serve his 15 month sentence at home, under “strict conditions”. Yes, mom and dad are going to be babysitting Mr. Buttar while  he pays penance for smashing a glass against a strangers head as he confessed to killing a rival gang leader. Kim Bolan has the story HERE.

In October, Ker found Buttar guilty of assault with a weapon and threatening Pardeep (Sunny) Dhillon — a complete stranger — at a Surrey restaurant.

She accepted Dhillon’s testimony that an intoxicated Buttar hit him across the face after learning Dhillon was a cousin of slain gangster Bindy Johal.

And Ker said she believed Dhillon that Buttar claimed he “killed for a living” and admitted to executing Johal, his one-time ally turned rival.

Ker said Thursday that while Dhillon was not seriously hurt in the attack, he was terrified by the threats leveled by Buttar.

“The assault was entirely unprovoked by Pardeep Dhillon,” Ker said. “Threatening and intimidating comments were made.”

~snip~

 when Buttar claimed he was a contract killer, he assumed Buttar was joking and made a comment about his late cousin having the same profession and ending up dead.

At that moment Buttar assaulted him, Dhillon testified, and said he “got rid” of Johal and could get rid of Dhillon too.

Dhillon said a Buttar associate pulled a gun, but the magazine fell out and Dhillon kicked it away.

Ker also accepted that a gun was present and seen by both Dhillon and the restaurant manager, who was so fearful when she testified that she cried when she pointed to Buttar.

~snip~

According to Vancouver police, Manny Buttar heads a gang that has been trafficking in south Vancouver. Some members of the purported Buttar group were arrested as part of a massive undercover operation called Project Rebellion.

So, of course it makes sense that the judge should feel ”  that despite Buttar’s criminal history, he met the criteria for a conditional sentence because he works full-time as a longshoreman and had taken steps to deal with an alcohol problem that contributed to the unprovoked 2006 assault. “Mr. Buttar’s prospects for rehabilitation appear to be good,”…

This is a joke, except that it is not even remotely humourous to think that individuals with histories like this are being allowed to serve their sentences at home. Therein lies the  failure of our criminal justice system, because while convictions must be obtained through actual evidence and testimony – fact, rather than fiction, the ruling of the justice overseeing the case is the wild card no one can anticipate. 

I’ve always thought the only way to get accountability from these judges is to elect them so that they must answer for their actions like any other public servant. We pay you, and we will hold you to account for your decisions and rulings. It’s the only way.

Wishful thinking? I think not. But then again, this comes in the same week when a RCMP officer somehow escaped  drunk and dangerous driving charges and so will not be held criminally accountable for causing the death of the wonderfully vibrant young man he hit with his vehicle.

And, this is the same week my local police force announced  they are handing over 60 officers to the 2010 Olympics – despite the fact we live in one of Canada’s Top 10 most dangerous cities, AND despite the fact that even the Surrey Board of Trade says we need more police in order to handle the crime, AND despite the fact that even our own Mayor addressed the need for more police on our streets in her 2009 State of the City address! 

We also need to put more police on our streets. It’s that basic.

When a single shooting ties up 30 or 40 officers in the investigation, you can see the kind of numbers we’re talking about. 

On a per-capita basis we have fewer police officers than Toronto or Montreal.

And before all you Vancouver yuppies start laughing at us Surrey folks for our ranking on that top 10  most dangerous cities list, I should point out that you are actually number 8 on the list – beating Surrey by one point! Think about that while you are on show for the world to see. Now that’s a headline.

But hey, the important people tell us that  it won’t be a problem for the remaining officers to deal with our crime, because we are closing the  criminal courts for 4 weeks during the games to any trials involving police witnesses…. Makes sense to me, as it does to all the criminals out there who are, as we speak, no likely planning a major operation or crime spree during that time period… 

Is it just me, or is all of this insane? Do the PR people making these announcements actually think we buy these assurances? Hello, this is Surrey, not Disney Land. We don’t have giant mice with bow ties, we have gangsters in hummers and BMW’s with semi-automatic weapons under their seats and silencers in the glove compartments.  After so many people calling for so many more RCMP, suddenly, as if a miracle has occurred suddenly, we have more than enough to spare 60 in Surrey alone to cover the games.

Jesus. Forget about the judges- who is going to protect us from the ones making all these decisions?

** Now, if you want to see what I’m talking about, take a look at the video clip of the police force on this portion of the torch run

19 thoughts on “And who will protect us from the judges?

  1. Those involved in administration of justice, from the judges, the AG’s staff, law society to the police services abhor transparency and accountability. It is clear, the justice industry will allow even murder and manslaughter to be tolerated for the “good of the organization.”

    Follow the Ian Tomlinson story at Northern Insights to examine corruption that – like the homicide of Dziekanski – was systemic and continues even now with the uniformed killer unpunished.

    One blog quote from a London police officer was:

    “I see my lot have murdered someone again. Oh well, shit happens.”

    Laila, Justice Ker doesn’t have to even think about the attitudes and reactions of citizens. Participants throughout the system ensure that public accountability is not forced on themselves or anyone else.

    If Supreme Court justices demanded truth and accountability from police officers, others would demand the same of judges.

    The death of Ian Tomlinson at the hands of the London Metropolitan Police is illustrative not for the act of three police officers but for the response of the entire justice system. It even marshaled a friendly pathologist to distort the cause of death. We have seen the same reactions here, repeatedly. This is a multi-armed beast and each hand washes the others.

    Someday a new political party might emerge that values ethics and true justice but I fear our society is too far down the road.

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  2. Gary L.

    “the homicide of Dziekanski ” Homicide? I wasn’t aware of this development, and I have been following this affair from the get go. Is there source where this has been reported?

    Cheers

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  3. salvatore bennedetto

    Holy crap. Its almost like being a parent. If the judges show no respect for the public, or the police, can we really expect any difference down the line? If the judges as parents of the public in handing out “justice” cant get any respect because they are either stupid or naive, what chance do we have.

    Maybe its time we elected ours so that each little area of the country could elect the kind of society they want in that area. All we are doing here is telling the likes of Buttar and Robinson that even if you screw up huge, we will give you a time out.

    I cant blame the bottom feeding lawyers because they are allowed to get away with this shit. Like a spoiled kid they pout and whine about rights and the judges bend over an let it all happen. Pardon me, but boneheads like Ker and an article I read about Leask not allowing evidence of criminal organization on the Hells Angels is enough to make you puke.

    Its time we elect them, and when they do not perform to our expectations punt them out.

    Substantial likelihood of conviction? Bullshit. Let a jury decide. Who annointed them? In every other province the police lay the charges and the prosecutors deal with it. Why is that not done here? Delta police wanted to lay a bunch of charges and were told no. Its BULLSHIT. You cant blame the police for that one.

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  4. Gary L.

    Sorry to Post twice Laila, but 1st off thanks to Norman Farrell’s reply, and is it just me, or does anyone else find Justice Leask interesting enough to want to study him under a microscope?

    Cheers

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  5. Laila

    You’re among friends Gary, and therefore no need to apologise for doing what I like to see- encouraging and continuing the discussion! Feel free to post as often as you like.

    And yes, I agree with you on Justice Leask. Wholeheartedly. One wonders where that one’s idea of justice came from. The back of a matchbox perhaps?

    Norman, Sal- semantics. The definition of the word has been altered , I think again, by the system and those in charge of it.

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  6. Sal and Gary, Norman is right about the definition of homicide and I was going to do that myself, until I read his very succint and accurate definition. Perhaps you should study the roots of the word itself or think or other related words like matricide, infanticide (and no , homicide has nothing to do with killing gay people). Sometimes people die, but generally if they are KILLED, it is by definition a homicide, even if it is accidental and no one is criminally responsible.

    The other point I wan’ed to make, as much as I can understand Sal and Laila’s frustration with the role of judges in our current (in)justice system, I am not confident that electing judges is the answer. Perhaps you should both spend some time examining how that works out in many jurisdictions in the US where judges are elected. The resolution of a legal issue isn’t something that lends itself to being resolved by a popularity contest or election. Justice shouldn’t be decided the same way as the winner of “American Idol.” That is a slippery slope to vigilantism!

    I don’t have the answer myself, but I do know that there is no oversight or accountability in the current Canadian process all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada – generally elected officials, and only one gets to pick who ever he wants as in the recent promotion (cough, cough) of Justice Bennett to manipulate the ongoing travesty called the BC Rail trial. In that sense we already elect judges in Canada, to extent we actually elect our government in a country with a rapidly growing democratic deficit thanks to lack of participation or an electorate that pays attention to real issues.

    In the US for example, even the President can’t just choose anyone to be a federal judge without at least having his choice approved by the Senate. Of course if the president has a strong majority in the Senate he could pick just about anyone, but there are limits as witness the Bork rejection. Clarence Thomas should have been rejected as well, in my opinion, but the current president had the support in the Senate and “he said, she said” disputes are always difficult to actually resolve.

    The legal system is still an old boys club (with a few girls who go along) most everywhere, but more so in Canada (especially BC) than many other developed jurisdictions.

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  7. Gary L.

    “The legal system is still an old boys club (with a few girls who go along) most everywhere, but more so in Canada (especially BC) than many other developed jurisdictions”.

    If that doesn’t say it all! Too true, but where do we go from here?
    I agree Electing Judges is not the slam dunk that it appears to be, without scratching the surface. After all these years of thinking, dicussing and reading about the Subject I am still at a loss about it.
    Sometimes I put it all down to desperate people, will do desperate things!
    Like that helps …………………………

    Cheers folks

    Like

  8. The British did a bit of criminal law reform this year and justicenmanagement was something to be addressed, given recent problems there. One proposal was to elect directly the people responsible for police oversight.

    The proposal was dropped out of fear that special interests, particularly the BNP, would focus on electing single or narrow interest candidates who would address favorite causes and ignore larger public issues.

    I fear the same if we were to elect judges. Keeping each of the “estates” strong and influential is important to freedom of citizens. The fourth estate is defanged, except for online participants who work on the margins.

    Do we really want judges to be no better than gutless politicians? Ones like Liberal MP Keith Martin who “opposed” HST and, after gathering all the courage he could muster, refused to vote. His leader Ignatieff wanted it passed despite overwhelming public opposition.

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  9. salvatore bennedetto

    Try to understand my question kooty: “Seeing as how the coroner had his due process sidlelined by the inquiry, where is the official determination of his death as a homicide?” Not looking for a definition…

    From http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners/

    “The Coroners Service of British Columbia is responsible for the investigation of all unnatural, sudden and unexpected, unexplained or unattended deaths. It makes recommendations to improve public safety and prevent death in similar circumstances.

    The Coroner is responsible for ascertaining the facts surrounding a death and must determine:

    •The identity of the deceased.
    •How, when, where and by what means the deceased died.
    The death is then classified as natural, accidental, suicide, homicide or undetermined.”

    With me now? No official determination of homicide by the Coroner…yet….

    I agree that the election of judges could have some problems. Perhaps the answer is in vetting committees but then who is on the vetting committees? And how do we get them there, and like normy said keep out the special interest dorks?

    Talk to a lawyer and he will tell you that it is up to the court of appeal to set the sentencing range and review judges decision on appeal for errors, such as when the BC Court of Appeal slapped Leask for the Crocker decision and ordered a new trial. Of course the first news coverage slashed the police and prosecutors, and never reported the police actually did not violate the dirtbags rights and never reported that Leask was slapped down by the appeal court. How did the appeal court get its people? Ya we know.

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  10. Leah

    How about if we make the judge personally accountable for their decision? If the one they let off with a mere slap on the wrist turns around and does someone else in…the Judge goes to jail along with the offender. Apply it to any repeat offender, especially those of grievous offenses.

    I’d be willing to bet the revolving door of “justice” might soon stop revolving if the judge actually had to worry about their own arse ending up in a cell.

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  11. Leah’s suggestion is interesting, but probably can gain no traction.

    It is interesting to watch Fundie Wannabe Preznit Huckabee squirm lately over his commutation of the recent Lakewood Cop Killer just to our south.

    I wonder if Scooter Libby will get a shot at committing any more treason since Bush the Lesser commuted his sentence?

    Also, it is re-assuring to see that ol’ Sal is stubbornly faithful to the PAB goal (whether he is pro or am) of diverting the discussion to some irrelevancy or another! It proves the world hasn’t totally tipped on its axis and the stars are still where they belong!

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  12. salvatore bennedetto

    Laila, I think the question to ask your local cops is how many will be on shift. Is the amount of cops going to be less every day or not. The 60 will probably all be on overtime for the olympic stuff.

    Sorry to confuse you Kooty, just trying to make things easier for you to understand.

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  13. Sal, read beyond press releases and front page puffery from the Solicitor General’s website. For duties of coroners, go to Coroners Act 2007. It speaks nothing about homicide. Besides,whether a death is that or not depends not on obscure legalisms defined by flacks but on the facts and circumstances determined by reasonable men and women.

    No official agent of government has determined that the sale of BC Rail was dishonestly managed. But Sal, it was.

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  14. You see Sal, Norm and I, and perhaps some others were using a word from the English language correctly. Then you in your ignorant or purposefully obtuse manner went all lawyer on us (as if you are one) and then showed us that…….wow….you can cut and paste stuff from the Coroners Act or Coroner’s Inquiries for Idiots just to waste pixels, our and your time, and divert the discussion away from the issue at hand.

    But just to make it simple enough for you I will provide you with the definition of the word:

    First from the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language – considered the authority by those who both UNDERSTAND and love the language:

    n. 1. killing of one person by another; 2. person who kills another

    Then if you only accept American English – Webster’s sez:

    n. 1. a person who kills another; 2. killing of one human being by another

    Both usages are generally considered correct in Canada – though sometimes we argue about things like honour and honor or how to say lieutenant.

    By the way it (homicide) is spelled EXACTLY the same in French and even means the same damn thing.

    I’ve vowed to myself now to never respond to you again, unless you say something that actually makes sense and has relevance to the topic at hand. Though I would recommend you acquire a dictionary and learn how to use it.

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  15. Prince George Coroner Michael Green, reading from the book of PAB talking points, recently said, “although we are fact finding, we are not fault finding, so the coroner’s report would never identify the response as inappropriate or inadequate.”

    Sal, if you are suspending your judgment about particular cases, awaiting word from authorities, you may wait a long time.

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  16. salvatore bennedetto

    Nowhere will you find my questioning your definitions of homicide.

    The original post:

    “Seeing as how the coroner had his due process sidlelined by the inquiry, where is the official determination of his death as a homicide?”

    The Coroner has not been able to determine the cause of death (now you can read their mandate) because the inquiry took precedence over his actions. The inquest is in limbo. Get it?

    Thanks normy, I can read the website which says the same thing about pointing fingers. And where did you come up with my ‘suspending judgment’? Probably from the same place you classify the mandate of the Coroners Service as “puffery”. It has not changed in many years. Did you never get tapped for jury duty? I recommend you do, its rewarding from a citizens point of view. “determined by reasonable men and women.” How flattering of you. I was only doing my duty as a citizen.

    Nice segue into the BC Rail fiasco. Although I don’t think I will wait for an “official agent of government ” to tell me yea or nay. For better or worse I will wait for a Judge to do that.

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