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HomeCanadian NewsVaughn Palmer: B.C.'s justice system just isn't damaged, however it's not good,...

Vaughn Palmer: B.C.’s justice system just isn’t damaged, however it’s not good, says deputy legal professional common


“Public confidence could be undermined by uninformed or inaccurate public statements.” — Assistant deputy legal professional common Peter Juk

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VICTORIA — The top of the B.C. prosecution service says politicians and media retailers specializing in prolific offenders and random violence are making a misunderstanding about crime charges that might undermine confidence within the justice system.

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“Politicians in any respect ranges, together with some law enforcement officials, members of the general public, and media retailers have voiced repeated issues about public security, ‘prolific offenders’, and random acts of violence,” wrote assistant deputy legal professional common Peter Juk in a latest defence of the system.

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“This seems to have led to perceptions that the general crime price is up throughout B.C.”

Quite the opposite says Juk within the Sept. 8 missive: “General crime charges in B.C. are about as little as they’ve been in a few years.”

Juk took explicit exception to “catch and launch” as a method of characterizing a system the place power offenders are arrested and launched with out bail to offend once more.

“The phrase tends to undermine a fundamental precept underlying all enlightened legal justice techniques: respect for the humanity of all people, together with those that are accused of crime,” he wrote.

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“When deciding whether or not to oppose or consent to bail, and on what phrases, Crown counsel should attempt to stability the general public’s proper to security in opposition to a person’s constitutional proper to liberty, and their proper to be presumed harmless till confirmed responsible.”

Pre-trial detention disproportionately impacts “accused individuals from deprived and weak communities (and) tends to extend an accused’s danger of future criminalization (and) the already unacceptable overrepresentation of Indigenous individuals inside the legal justice system.”

The accusation of “catch and launch” is a favorite of the B.C. Liberals.

Juk didn’t point out the Liberals by identify.

Nonetheless, the strongly worded dismissal of catch and launch quantities to an oblique swipe on the Opposition by a senior public servant.

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He additionally disputed insinuations that the “sturdy presumption in favour of pretrial launch on bail” was a creation of the NDP authorities.

Since changing into head of the prosecution service within the final yr of the B.C. Liberal administration, Juk says he has acquired “no instructions” from both Liberal or NDP attorneys common relating to coverage on cost evaluation or bail.

He did challenge directives on his personal authority incorporating amendments to federal legal legislation and selections of the Supreme Courtroom of Canada.

“Crown counsel are sometimes balancing the competing rights and pursuits and making bail selections beneath extreme time stress primarily based on restricted info,” wrote Juk.

“They should make some very robust calls in formulating bail positions which can be in line with each the spirit and letter of the legislation.

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“Crown counsel can’t predict the longer term actions of the accused with certainty, and so they can’t eradicate all dangers.”

Can not predict future actions? Even the place the document of the accused reveals a sample of repeated offences?

“As British Columbians, who stay in and actively contribute to the communities the place they work, Crown counsel acknowledge that some neighbourhoods have been struggling disproportionately from sure sorts of offending recently,” Juk acknowledged.

“To some extent, Crown counsel can attempt to issue present native circumstances into issues about whether or not an accused particular person is detained or launched on bail earlier than trial.”

Studying on, one learns that prosecutors can take these elements into consideration to some extent, however to not very a lot extent.

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“The first focus at a bail listening to have to be on the particular accused particular person earlier than the courtroom and the specifics of their alleged offence, which Crown counsel should, and do, contemplate every time they cope with the difficulty of bail.”

Backside line, in response to the prosecution service: “The system just isn’t damaged.”

“No system is ideal nonetheless,” he hastened so as to add, “and public confidence within the legal justice system is important to its success.

“Public scrutiny, knowledgeable dialogue, and reasoned debate assist to make sure that our legal justice system is functioning correctly. It additionally assists us in making enhancements and changes when needed to verify we are able to fulfil our mandate as an unbiased, efficient, and truthful prosecution service.”

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Not so when the scrutiny places an excessive amount of emphasis on prolific offenders — “a label that has no clear authorized definition and might imply various things to completely different individuals” — and random acts of violence.

“Public confidence could be undermined by uninformed or inaccurate public statements,” wrote Juk.

“The general public deserves to obtain the actual information: in regards to the legal justice course of; in regards to the strict authorized necessities imposed by parliament and the Supreme Courtroom of Canada; and, about the actual limits on what Crown counsel (and the legal justice system) can and can’t do to deal with broader social points like psychological well being and the dependancy disaster.”

Some actual information from the political realm prompted David Eby, earlier than he stepped down to hunt the NDP management, to fee a overview into options to the issue of “prolific offenders” — his time period, if not Juk’s — and random violence.

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The report is overdue however an govt abstract with suggestions is predicted this week.

Will probably be attention-grabbing to find to what diploma it provides new options to the issue, and to what diploma it echoes the obvious view of the prosecution service that there’s “no story right here.”

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