Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Strange law makes for doubtful citizens

An unacceptable application of the law was reported in the media today. The issue concerned five Toronto police officers convicted of obstructing justice and perjury through falsification of reports. The five received 45-day conditional sentences, that is house arrest with wide latitude for leaving home. They appealed.

Three court of appeal judges dismissed the appeal. They wrote that perjury strikes "at the very root of our justice system" and "public confidence in the honesty of the police is fundamental to the integrity of the criminal justice system."

Their decision continues, "When the perpetrators of the crime are police officers sworn to uphold the law, the objective of denunciation has heightened significance. Police offices owe a special duty to be faithful to the justice system."

Crown prosecutors asked for a three-year jail sentence.

"However," the judgement concluded, "in light of all the circumstances, particularly the passage of time . . . I would order that the operation of the sentences be stayed." In other words, the convicted walk free.

Two salient features of the court's decision: It says that the police may contravene the law and not be severely punished. One of the perpetrators is still a police officer. It also informs future perpetrators that, to receive a light sentence, delay the process as long as possible.  And who better to manipulate the law than those whose duty it is to enforce it?

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