Thursday, November 23, 2017

A court explains minute differences

A man, reaching for a water bottle,  drove his car "some 20 metres" over a bike lane and onto a sidewalk killing a pedestrian in East Toronto.  He was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death. The Ontario judge set him free explaining, "We cannot hold drivers to a standard of ideal decision-making when making split-second decisions." He found the defendant had made an "imprudent but reflexive decision."

Thus the court differentiates between a split-second decision and a reflexive decision.

Following the reasoning of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2008, the judge acknowledged that taking his eyes off the road was a "departure from what a reasonable prudent driver" would do in the situation, but it was not "a marked departure" from that standard.

Thus the court differentiates between a reasonable departure and a marked departure.

The learned judge went on to explain the difference. The provable period of inattention by the driver was between 0.74 and 1.18 seconds.  The court allowed that this "minuscule period of inattention" qualifies as a "momentary lapse of attention" and therefore not criminal.

Thus the court differentiates between "a minuscule period of inattention" and "a momentary lapse of attention."

How thin can our courts slice legal baloney?

In all this, the trial court accepted the uncorroborated statements of the defendant. He may have been doing something else besides, or in addition to, reaching for a water bottle.

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