THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Opening comments: More at the end.
I have been to a number of the trials involving those arrested Oct. 16-01 and surprised how the Crown has managed to avoided having the police present the details of the methods used, such as unlawful pre-emptive searches.
Mr. Midanik was ready to take the police to task on this matter and the Crown knew it. So they ended the case before the facts were revealed and embarrassment to the government.
Justice delayed is justice denied - why would it take years for the Crown to suddenly decide to just drop the case? Would it be because they wanted to punish people as much as they could using the legal system, itself? The police abuse the process very often; handcuffs too tight and then would claim they have to handcuff people, strip search everyone fully and more then once when in fact they need not and the list goes on and on. In this case it means Mr. Morton was under restrictive bail conditions for years, like not to attend protests and made to attend regular court dates. He was being punished without even being convicted! In the mind of government bureaucrat's who only look at paper it would show they are tough on those who protest.
I have also noticed that the police have no trouble piling up so-called serious charges, like assault police officer but the Crown would not treat it, like it was serious at all. It is an serious Indictable offence but people who have 2 or more charges of assaulting a police officer are prosecuted in the lesser fashion, Summarily. It sounds really serious when they tell the public in a effort to justify the cost of over policing the demonstration and to support the police false claim of OCAP being a dangerous or criminal group. But the lesser prosecution means less legal aid funds to defend the case and trial by judge only, no jury. Less chance of justice all round.
Then cases are often settled by a peace bonds, which just says the person will keep the peace etc., and is almost meaningless, legally speaking. It is interesting that in a couple case the Crown has done this during trials after the officer has entered their story into the record but before the victim can. This means the paper trail shows no wrong doing by the Toronto police and no contradicting statements on the official records.
Does this serve justice? I say no. And remember, the amount legal aid pays a lawyer for a summary case is usually just to cover having a lawyer in court when pleading guilty or some other deal that does not allow the innocence to be vindicated. In fact, lawyers recently went on strike as payments were so laughably low. I say, police and the Crown are playing the system against the people!
TORONTO STAR Mar. 19, 2003 - From internet- By NICK PRON - COURTS BUREAU
Charge dropped against protester
Under picture by Michael Stuparyk;
Would-be protester Christopher Morton had expected to march along Bay St. that morning, chanting slogans against the economic policies of the provincial government.
Instead, he ended up in the back of a police van, bleeding profusely from a cut over his eye, facing a charge of assaulting a police officer during the Oct. 16, 2001 Ontario Coalition Against Poverty rally.
His three-day trial on that charge was supposed to have started yesterday, but a court was told that the crown has decided to drop the charge against the 23-year-old student.
"This is a case in which there was a gross abuse of police power," Midanik, who was notified Monday by fax the crown was dropping the charge, said in a later interview.
"The police displayed a reckless disregard for my client's constitutional rights."
Morton said in an interview that he and a group of protesters tried to avoid a police barricade at city hall where all the marchers were being searched.
Morton, studying to be a paramedic, said he had gone to the rally to protest against the government, taking along a first aid kit to help if there were any injuries.
According to a document filed with the court, his group got into a confrontation with a Toronto police officer, who had stepped in front of them.
The officer tried to grab at a cardboard shield Morton had been carrying, and in the ensuing struggle the officer was hit in the head and had his glasses knocked off, according to a brief filed by Midanik to have the charges dropped.
Three other police officers immediately pounced on Morton.
According to Midanik's brief to the court, the three officers "violently put him down to the ground and handcuffed him."
Morton was one of about two dozen protesters who were charged that morning, including one man who burned an American flag at the Royal York hotel.
The court brief went on to describe the action of the unidentified Toronto officers as "exceeding the amount of force that was necessary to subdue him (Morton) and constituted an assault at common law."
It went on to say that Morton was punched, but he couldn't identify the officer.
For the next 5 1/2 hours, it said, Morton was held in the back of the police van, his hands handcuffed behind his back, bleeding from the gash over his left eye.
He wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom, or given food or water or medical care for his wound, the brief from his lawyer stated.
It stated Morton "was not read his right to counsel, nor was he afforded any opportunity to exercise his right to counsel."
Morton, who had no prior arrests by police, was later strip-searched at 14 Division before being taken to the hospital for treatment.
The wound took three stitches to close and Morton still sports a scar from it.
Culver went on to say that any complaints about police behaviour during the protest had nothing to do with the prosecutor's office, and were a matter between Morton and the police.
A police spokesperson acknowledged yesterday that Morton had been charged following a confrontation with an officer, adding that the force had no comment about the decision to drop the charge.
"That was a decision made by the crown's office," the spokesperson said.
Midanik said he will ask a judge today to make the authorities pay for the legal costs incurred by Morton's family in the two years the case has been before the courts.
During the interview, the soft-spoken Morton described the ordeal as "terrifying."
Despite his experience, the slightly built, 5-foot-9, 125-pound man said "it hasn't discouraged me from my right to protest."
Do you want to do something about this?
Before the election and get this issue talked about?
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