Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Three cheers for common sense
Finally, a "good news" story from a Canadian courtroom.Quebec Superior Court Judge Richard Mongeau has done the right thing this week and overturned a truly ludicrous lower court decision which would have seen a 18-year-old motorist stand trial in youth court for the death of a three-year-old girl -- even though he was legally an adult at the time of the incident.You read that right. An no, it doesn't make any sense.
It was earlier this year that Quebec Court Judge Odette Perron came down with the bizarre ruling, which stemmed from an Oct. 31, 2007 incident that left Bianca Leduc dead.The motorist - who happened to be celebrating his 18th birthday that very day - is accused of driving on to the front lawn of a home daycare and running over the little girl while she was putting up Halloween decorations.He was charged with causing death by criminal negligence and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.The charges filed by the Crown referred to the tragic incident as occurring "on or about" Oct. 31 - a frequent legal term used in court documents.Amazingly, Perron ruled that "on or about" could mean the day of Oct. 31, the day before or the day after.She then claimed she had no choice but to give the 18-year-old the benefit of the doubt and send his case to youth court - even though everyone knew the crash happened on Oct. 31.Is it any wonder the Canadian public have so little faith in the justice system?
The Crown appealed the ruling and got the decision overturned in the higher court this week.The young man now faces a maximum jail term of 14 years if convicted. While there's no chance he gets anywhere close to the max, a real jail sentence is a strong possibility. As a youth, he'd likely be looking at probation.His name still can't be published because his lawyer has 30 days to decide whether to challenge the ruling before the Quebec Court of Appeal.If that happens, let's hope that the common sense displayed this week by Judge Mongeau is contagious.www.mikeoncrime.com