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A Doctor Speaks - Justice No Longer Part of the Judicial System

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  • JAIL4Judges.org
    _*A Doctor Speaks - Justice No Longer a Part of the Judicial System*_
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2010

      A Doctor Speaks -
      Justice No Longer a Part of the Judicial System


      Chris Pengilly: Justice no longer part of the judicial system

      Restoring equity and fairness to courts should be a priority

      By Chris Pengilly, Special to Times Colonist September 5, 2010   

      I am not Saint Christopher, but I do try to pay my taxes on time, keep to the speed limit and generally fit unobtrusively into society. Recently, however, I came as close to having to go to prison as I ever want to.

      I was required to appear as a witness in a civil litigation which had been going on for 10 years. I was given 10 days notice. Failure to appear, I was warned, would be viewed as "contempt of court" punishable by incarceration.

      This is a daunting power in a free and democratic society -- but it does not stop there.


      - The administrative decision by the University of Victoria concerning a solution for the rabbit problem.

      - The local authority resolution concerning the fate of the Vantreight Lands.

      - The democratically conducted petition concerning the HST.

      What do these have in common?

      All were at risk of being usurped by the courts, with the decisions being made by unelected members of the judiciary.

      In this new millennium, the court system (I cannot refer to it as the justice system) seems to bear resemblance to the role of organized religion in medieval times.

      It is autonomous. Judicial decisions carry the same aura as papal infallibility.

      An authority figure wearing fancy dress sits front-and-centre overlooking a convoluted ceremony conducted by other members of the profession wearing similar but less elaborate get-ups.

      When the judge/minister enters, all attendees are required to stand.

      I allow that a judge is a senior and knowledgeable person, but so is a proctologist. I have never seen all the staff in the operating room stand when my colleague, Dr. William Orrom, enters to undertake some of the most difficult surgical procedures I have ever witnessed in my years in the operating room.

      To speak against the court system is still, in 2010, regarded as heresy. To my surprise and disquiet, when I have casually mentioned my intention to write this essay, more than one person has expressed concern -- asking me if I am not nervous to do so.

      When I did appear as a witness I was questioned for about two hours with attempts being made to interpret my 10-year-old hospital report in a different way from its clear original intent. Answers were cut off, one lawyer accusing the other of "leading questions" -- it had nothing at all to do with the real world, and the real people involved and the real pain a wrong decision will cause.

      There has been much criticism laid against the police concerning the delay in apprehending Willie Pickton. I suggest that if the judicial system was less complex with fewer technical loopholes the police may well have proceeded sooner.

      Defenders of the current system say it is to protect the public again the potential tyranny of the police. It is also argued that it is better that three guilty persons go free than that one should be imprisoned incorrectly. In this regard the system has sadly failed, as Donald Marshall Jr., David Milgaard and Guy Paul Morin would testify.

      Nurses, midwives, physicians and nurse practitioners make many, and occasionally life-and-death decisions every day. These decisions do not take days, weeks or even months.

      With the abolition of the death penalty a judge no longer has to make any life-and-death decisions. The civil case in which I was a witness was scheduled to last three days. I am sure that, with a well motivated mediator, it could have been settled in three hours.

      I wonder if there will ever be a government brave enough and strong enough to restore the judicial system to a justice system. That is to say one that will quickly and efficiently administer the laws of the land, and arbitrate in matters of civil dispute -- while eschewing matters that have been decided by a democratic and/or expert process.

      Judgments should depend on all the facts of a case with nothing relevant being omitted as "inadmissible."

      In other words, where verdicts depend on the merits of a case and not on the results of cunning manoeuvres and devious word games.

      Dr. Chris Pengilly is in general practice in Victoria.

      © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


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