Monday, April 8, 2013

Justice at a Price

Justice may be blind. Need our courts be?

In 2003, a citizen laid a complaint of assault under the Police Services Act. A police adjudicator dismissed the complaint.  The citizen then sued for unlawful arrest, use of unnecessary force, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. The lawsuit was dismissed prior to trial. He appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal which upheld the dismissal.

The appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada reversed the decision of Ontario's highest court in no uncertain terms. In April 2013, the Supreme Court found that the use of the civilian complaints process was "a serious affront to basic principles of fairness." The initial lawsuit may proceed.

Two salient features emerge from this so-far ten-year proceeding.

1. The Ontario Court of Appeal did not recognize "a serious affront to basic principles of fairness."

2. Justice belongs to those with the financial resources and the patience to appeal to higher jurisdictions.

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