This Wednesday the TDP team went to visit the Provincial Offences Court at 100 Constellation st. There, we witnessed parking ticket trials. Two trials specifically. Here are some memorable moments that I share.
In the first trial, the man pleaded: “Your honor, I don’t know much about the law, but from a commonsense point of view I had nothing to do with the parking of the car at that location.” The judge tried to explain afterward: “It is an absolute offense crime, which means the prosecutor need only prove the car was yours and there. You have pleaded your own guilt.”
In the second trial a racialized woman was confronted with the testimony of an officer who claimed she chalked the tires of the woman’s vehicle at 8:57 AM, having checked her satellite-synched watch and registered the time in her notes. The woman insisted that was impossible, since she’d parked the inoperative vehicle, with the help of her brothers, at around 10:30 AM.
After the officer gave her evidence, the Justice of the Peace asked the woman if she had any questions to ask the officer. The woman said no, at which the Justice insisted that if she did not ask questions the officer’s evidence would be considered as-is. The woman then turned to the Justice and started to give her version of the story. The Justice interrupted her and said that if she had a different story of events, she should test the officer’s evidence, and that he could not suggest any questions without jeopardizing her right to a fair trial.
Instead of asking questions to the officer, the woman kept trying to tell her story, and the Justice kept insisting that she “Ask her (the officer) a question!” This was repeated seven times. Finally, the Justice gave up. The woman swore on the Bible and gave her account of events, which contradicted just about everything the officer said, leaving us, the audience, with many questions.
In the end, the woman claimed she had the evidence to prove she’d been to a mechanic, among other things, but forgot to bring it with her to court. The Justice was perplexed and mixed mercy with severity in his judgment. Naturally, she lost the case.
All of this happened at great human and economical cost. These simple cases are enough to illustrate how important council is to justice.
Council would have understood the nature of the offence, could have asked questions, and accelerated the trial. Both the man and woman could have even been acquitted. The woman, for instance, might have been truthful, but because she made a blunder of her case in court, we’ll never know; and in all appearance she seemed to be guilty.