Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
On bail and how to get it
Bail — or specifically, how it's granted, revoked and supervised — has been quite the topic today.
Civil rights advocates came out this morning swinging, saying the Canadian courts' system of bail is broken and needs immediate repair — as some accused people are being held behind bars needlessly and injustly waiting for their day in court.
[The Canadian Civil Liberties Association's "Set up to fail" report can be found here. A worthwhile read.]
But back inside the courtroom, younger criminal defence lawyers are fighting their own battles just to get their clients a reasonable shot at release — something all accused people are entitled to — in the first place.
It's not an easy task, regardless of what the general public might think.
Bail hearings happen, generally speaking, in a rapid-fire courtroom setting where the smallest inattention to detail by counsel can result in a person spending years in custody waiting to deal with their charges.
As I noted on Twitter the other day — one provincial court judge was staring down the task of dealing with 55 different matters on one single bail docket for a single day.
That kind of staggering volume puts pressure on the court to make rapid-fire risk-management decisions, pressure on the Crown to present their opposition to bail in an abbreviated, hurried fashion, and pressure on the defence to get on with things, to keep the flow of the courtroom moving along.
That kind of atmosphere isn't good for justice and it's certainly not good for public confidence in the system overall.
But at the end of the day, competent, enaged advocates must do what they can to present the best possible case for their clients, regardless of external pressures.
But how to make that case in the most persuasive way given the systemic pressures? What's a young or inexperienced lawyer to do?
Enter Martin Glazer, a veteran city defence lawyer who has already tried and forgotten about more major cases he's fought than younger lawyers likely may ever handle over their entire careers.
Though the Manitoba Law Journal, Glazer presents what appears to me to be a quasi handbook for defence lawyers on bails and how to conduct the hearings, what points to hammer home to the court depending on the presenting circumstances of a case.
It's a fascinating, insider look at how a lawyer's mind works. And should be required reading for not just other lawyers, but also anyone in the public who wants to see how things actually work in a bail court.
Presented in full below, again, originally posted by the Manitoba Law Journal
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About James Turner
James Turner rejoined the Free Press as a justice-beat reporter in August 2013 after a number of years away working at other media outlets, including the Winnipeg Sun and CBC Manitoba.
A reporter in Winnipeg since 2005, he got his first taste of the justice beat as a former Free Press intern, then as the newspaper's police reporter from 2008-09.
Among the topics he's eager to cover are youth crime, street gangs, child-welfare and how the mental health and justice systems intersect.
An avid blogger and early adopter of Twitter, James (@heyjturner) loves to write long, much to the frustration of his editors.
He despises animal cruelty. He loves 80s music and his tubby labrador retriever.
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