Thursday, April 24, 2008

Robert Baltovich and a Public Inquiry

Now that Robert Blatovich has been aquitted the question arises as to whether or not there should be a public inquiry. Mr. Blatovich wants an inquiry into why he has been wrongfully convicted; Ms. Bain's family undoubtedly wants another go at him. Neither is a good reason to have an inquiry.

As Mr. Baltovich has been acquitted there is no real reason to have another go at him in a public inquiry -- if there is a civil case to be brought the family can bring it. Given the passage of time and the expiry of limitation periods such a civil case is unlikely to go anywhere but the same reasons for imposing such limitation periods gives as sense of the futility of a public inquiry -- memories will be frail; evidence lost; witnesses compromised.

As for the reasons for Mr. Baltovich's wrongful conviction -- well we have a thorough Court of Appeal decision which has dealt with this and looked at all aspects of the conduct of what happened before. Most critically it has directly addressed the inappropriate conduct of the trial judge. Here is what the Court's own synopsis says on the matter:
The Court concluded that the trial judge’s charge to the jury lacked fairness and balance and that it compromised Baltovich’s right to a fair trial. Read as whole, the jury charge unduly promoted the Crown’s case and denigrated the defence’s case. The Court cited examples of some of the trial judge’s improper rhetorical questions as well as his directions regarding the issues of suicide, motive, and after-the-fact conduct as representative of the unfairness and lack of balance in the jury charge.


Our justice system admits of the possibility of error -- that is why we have appeal courts and methods for re-opening cases. In this case it worked -- slowly -- but it worked. Let this case and the personal vendettas of its cast of characters rest in peace.




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11 comments:

frogparts said...

Sating the personal vendettas of those select few is enough to dampen the anger of many. The justice system has more failings than ever revealed by the media or the combined personal experiences of those who access the system. If Mr. Baltovitch wants a public enquiry, he knows best. He has been a media figure, he has lived in jail while the rest of us lived on, and if he has something to tell our generation then he'll do it. Its obvious you're not interested, but you are only one somewhat priviledged person, who works in the justice system, and who is invested in the authority of appeals.

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