Interesting article about court appearances. Opinions?

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FiReSTaRT
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Interesting article about court appearances. Opinions?

by: FiReSTaRT on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:40 am

http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/609928
Court work pays off in massive overtime
PAWEL DWULIT/TORONTO STAR
At almost $162,000, Michael Thompson is among Toronto's highest-paid police officers thanks, in part, to the overtime he logs appearing in traffic court.
City nets $8 million from fines while traffic cops get $6 million in extra pay
...
Officials are looking at many ways to replace an officer's in-person testimony, including replacing his or her live statements with a certified document.
...
Making those changes would involve rewriting law, says Toronto Police Association head Dave Wilson, which is not a domain of the police. However, he says, the ticket is already a certified statement, so there is no need for another. And, if someone wants to contest the facts in court, the officer must be present to defend his decision.

Trying to replace an officer's live testimony with a pre-written statement, "doesn't make any sense at all," Wilson says. "It goes against the whole legal system."
I'd also like to hear everyone's opinions on the other aspects of the article. What grabbed me is that I'm happy that one public police figure (Dave Wilson) respects the law, unlike Cam and Julian.
What kind of a man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.


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by: hwybear on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:09 pm

The city is still up by $2 million.....so the problem is????

The thought of sending in a certified statement is excellent. Apparently QC does this (anyone confirm?). So when someone challenges an offence they send in a statement, officer sends in a statement, both to be reviewed by a JP. The JP will then have the ability to ask for further clarification by either person and render a decision. Person does not have to take time off work, officer does not have to attend on OT and case still has to decide.
Above is merely a suggestion/thought and in no way constitutes legal advice or views of my employer. www.OHTA.ca


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by: Squishy on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:55 pm

162K! I might have to join up sooner. :D Don't think I'd feel comfortable getting four hours' overtime pay for a ten-minute appearance, though.

I don't know about certified statements (the truth can always be stretched), but what about video evidence? Dash cams, or even a video device fixed to the officer's person. Those small pinhole cameras with reasonable quality are getting pretty cheap these days. With strong evidence like that, there is less wiggle room for a defence and if prosecutors stopped reducing charges where evidence was strong, maybe less people would bother fighting the ticket.

By the way, how are these "high-producer" traffic cops viewed by co-workers? From the article, it seemed as if Virani's colleagues didn't care for him much. I would have no problem writing tickets for "petty" things like littering or jaywalking, and I fully intend to crack down on failing to signal. Is that just rookie enthusiasm that eventually gets crushed by reality?
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by: hwybear on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:07 pm

Squishy wrote:162K! I might have to join up sooner. :D Don't think I'd feel comfortable getting four hours' overtime pay for a ten-minute appearance, though.
That again is misinformation by the paper....it is not 4hrs overtime pay (time and a half x 4 hrs)....it is a minimum of 4 hrs pay. We have a minimum pay of 6hrs for being recalled to work.
I don't know about certified statements (the truth can always be stretched)
Still does not stop ppl from stretching it the court either and I have seen that many times
By the way, how are these "high-producer" traffic cops viewed by co-workers? From the article, it seemed as if Virani's colleagues didn't care for him much. I would have no problem writing tickets for "petty" things like littering or jaywalking, and I fully intend to crack down on failing to signal. Is that just rookie enthusiasm that eventually gets crushed by reality?
I am in a traffic office and we all get along.... it is those that actually answer the calls for service that get along, the ones that "duck" calls are frowned upon and seemingly they are not producers either. Failing to signal is a very hard charge to prove.
Above is merely a suggestion/thought and in no way constitutes legal advice or views of my employer. www.OHTA.ca


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by: Radar Identified on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:10 pm

hwybear wrote:The thought of sending in a certified statement is excellent. Apparently QC does this (anyone confirm?).
Quebec indeed does this, however they do not accept certified documents from the defendant. The defendant has to be present in Quebec, but not the officer.
Squishy wrote:Don't think I'd feel comfortable getting four hours' overtime pay for a ten-minute appearance, though.
Meh... I get a minimum of four hours of pay just for showing up for work if I get called out, or even if I get a cancellation. I don't see much of a problem with them getting 4 hours for a short appearance, particularly since they often have to sacrifice part of a day off.
Squishy wrote:I would have no problem writing tickets for "petty" things like littering or jaywalking
I don't think jaywalking is a "petty" offence. Numerous pedestrians get killed every year when they step off the curb into traffic, and they assume that drivers are just going to stop for them. A pedestrian is no match for a 3000+ pound vehicle. Toronto Police crack down on pedestrian offences regularly (not to mention motorists who try to run down pedestrians) because so many of them are killed every year on city streets.


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by: hwybear on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:16 pm

Radar Identified wrote: Meh... I get a minimum of four hours of pay just for showing up for work if I get called out, or even if I get a cancellation. I don't see much of a problem with them getting 4 hours for a short appearance, particularly since they often have to sacrifice part of a day off..
Exactly, have to drive to the office, prepare for court, put on work clothes with all use of force options, sign out a cruiser, then drive to court. Then reverse process on way home. Can not be in uniform without use of force options. Can not go to court in a suit as then I have to drive my own vehicle, to which I am not covered by WSIB or by insurance.
Above is merely a suggestion/thought and in no way constitutes legal advice or views of my employer. www.OHTA.ca


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by: Squishy on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:26 pm

Radar Identified wrote:
Squishy wrote:I would have no problem writing tickets for "petty" things like littering or jaywalking
I don't think jaywalking is a "petty" offence. Numerous pedestrians get killed every year when they step off the curb into traffic, and they assume that drivers are just going to stop for them. A pedestrian is no match for a 3000+ pound vehicle. Toronto Police crack down on pedestrian offences regularly (not to mention motorists who try to run down pedestrians) because so many of them are killed every year on city streets.
Which is why I put 'petty' in quotes and why I would love to give out those tickets. From that recent jaywalking case in Colorado, the general public seems to feel that jaywalking is no big deal.

In the same vein, I think failing to signal is another thing that isn't taken seriously enough. Those who do that are crippling the reaction times of vehicles around them, and taking the entire responsibility of making the movement safely upon themselves. Very few people on the roads have the skill or patience to pull that off. It's too bad that it's a hard charge to prove; maybe video evidence would solve that. :)
hwybear wrote:Exactly, have to drive to the office, prepare for court, put on work clothes with all use of force options, sign out a cruiser, then drive to court. Then reverse process on way home. Can not be in uniform without use of force options. Can not go to court in a suit as then I have to drive my own vehicle, to which I am not covered by WSIB or by insurance.
Okay, that makes more sense. I was under the impression that you were able to bring your duty belt home if you were scheduled for court on a day off, and just go to court from your house. I hadn't considered insurance implications of taking your own vehicle.
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by: Radar Identified on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:00 pm

Squishy wrote:Which is why I put 'petty' in quotes and why I would love to give out those tickets. From that recent jaywalking case in Colorado, the general public seems to feel that jaywalking is no big deal.
Oh, okay, I understand what you were saying now.

Unfortunately, yes, many people think jaywalking is no big deal. If it's a quiet sidestreet, well, I really don't care. But I see people on a daily basis jaywalk against traffic signals and step out in front of speeding cars. A few months ago, a woman on University Avenue in Toronto, which is very busy, stepped out into heavy traffic against a DON'T WALK signal... pushing her baby stroller along! A car slammed into her and her baby, the only good outcome of it being that the stroller took most of the impact and her baby wasn't seriously hurt. Toronto Police charged her with disobey traffic signal. She's lucky that she and her baby weren't some of the dozens of pedestrians who die every year in the GTA.


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by: FiReSTaRT on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:04 pm

hwybear wrote: The thought of sending in a certified statement is excellent. Apparently QC does this (anyone confirm?). So when someone challenges an offence they send in a statement, officer sends in a statement, both to be reviewed by a JP. The JP will then have the ability to ask for further clarification by either person and render a decision. Person does not have to take time off work, officer does not have to attend on OT and case still has to decide.
That's where you and I are at the opposite sides of the argument. Here's what's going on from a purely legal standpoint in case of a speeding ticket...
1) The speeding ticket is being charged with breaking the law
2) As such, the defendant is entitled to dispute the charge in a fair and public hearing (11d)
3) A hearing cannot be considered "fair" if the defendant cannot cross-examine the witness for the prosecution.

P.S. A JP technically doesn't have a demonstrated ability to do anything other than to pull strings to get appointed.
What kind of a man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.


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by: hwybear on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:37 pm

I would not say anything different from a statement than I would on the stand....so how would that not be fair?

I know how JP's are currently appointed.

Think the discussion was an alternative court system, where JP's would have added ability to ask for clarification from the crown and defendant if an issue was located.
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by: FiReSTaRT on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:43 pm

Bear, we are a bit spoiled here in Ontario. You come off as a 100% honest guy and a great majority of our constables is like that.
I grew up in Serbia during the Milosevic era. At that time, it was fairly common for a person to get beaten, put into a van, beaten some more in the van, taken into the station, get beaten some more, taken out of the station, given another beating and left on the street. I knew this girl who allowed a group of 5 cops to gang-bang her so they wouldn't give her boyfriend that sort of a treatment.
The worst abuses of authority that I've witnessed here in Canada were idle threats and a dope-slap.
The reason why our legal system is so clean is that we have certain procedures that keep our system clean.
Every time somebody mentions a measure that aims to change that, you'll have a bunch of s***-disturbers like myself cryin' foul. We don't always succeed (like in case of Bill 203), but that won't stop us from throwing more sand onto the slippery slope.
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by: hwybear on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:16 pm

Wow that is quite extreme experience that you have seen. Would never want that to be here.

If there was a way to make things more efficient, maintaining our standards I am all for that. Such as the written statements by involved persons.

A tightening of our current standards would help increase efficiency as things are becoming slack.
Above is merely a suggestion/thought and in no way constitutes legal advice or views of my employer. www.OHTA.ca


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by: FiReSTaRT on
Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:38 pm

The problem is that a written statement being accepted as testimony makes the process less transparent. I can see several cases where the constable showing up in court would be in the interest of justice.
1) Where the constable has made a genuine error. I've read the transcripts of a proceeding where after detailed questioning, the constable's testimony demonstrated that he did not calibrate his equipment properly. Something like that would not have made it into a generic report.
2) Where the constable can be used by the defendant to establish certain facts in the defendant's favour (information about the weather, traffic patterns, witnesses, his position at the time of observation of the offence, etc etc etc)
3) Where the constable is just being a prick, like the one who gave me a red light ticket back in early 2003 (went in on green and it was just turning yellow as I was exiting the intersection). A written report can't trip up on the stand.
The bottom line is that for a legal system to stay honest, it has to be fully transparent.
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by: hwybear on
Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:23 am

intersting...but just don't think we will agree :cry:

How does Quebec use this process then? anyone??
Above is merely a suggestion/thought and in no way constitutes legal advice or views of my employer. www.OHTA.ca


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by: FiReSTaRT on
Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:15 am

Bah, the world would be a boring place if everyone agreed on everything 8)
What kind of a man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.


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