Guy Turcotte’s retrial scares, me and I believe that it should scare you. At the end of the day, what happened to Guy Turcotte, made it clear to me, that what often passes for justice in Canada in high-profile cases, is not what I expect to see accepted as justice served, in a modern-day justice system. The fact that there was a retrial in the Guy Turcotte case, to begin with, in my opinion proves, that these types of cases end up serving what a whole lot of angry people consider to be justice served, at any given time; how easy it seems to be, for us to forget, where this kind of justice leads.
Such cases remind me of a time when lynching, dueling and confessions arrived at by torturing the accused, were considered justice; a time when there was no need for trial, and so no need for a retrial, just everyone taking the law into their own hands. A time of honesty, before the pretense of fair trials, and equal justice for all. I believe that there were good reasons why the Canadian Justice System was created, with its courts, judges, lawyers and trials, and the main one, in my opinion, was to ensure that everyone in Canada would receive a fair trial according to the law, and if found guilty, receive a punishment, that was spelled out in the law; especially a person as loathed, reviled, and despised, by Canadians, as Guy Turcotte.
I believe that:
- most Canadians feel that justice was served, with the turn of events that saw Guy Turcotte, a man capable of murdering his two young children, while they slept in their beds, sent to jail;
- that the retrial, was the Crown’s attempt to placate angry Canadians, like me;
- restore the belief that no one who commits murder in Canada will get away with it;
- I, as well as you, need to fear this type of justice, because the next victim of it, could be you, or I.
I think that Guy Turcotte was a sick man, his crime despicable, and if the truth be known, I am glad that he is in prison for a very long time, but I am smart enough to know that:
- Guy Turcotte’s retrial had nothing to do with a legal mistake made by the judge, or the jury;
- Guy Turcotte’s retrial had everything to do with the fact that the Canadian public did not like the outcome of the trial;
- there was never a dispute as to whether Guy Turcotte was guilty of murdering his babies, because he admitted stabbing them to death while they slept;
- what was supposed to be decided at the trial was whether or not the evidence in the case proved him to be, Not Guilty by Reason of Temporary Insanity. The plea that was entered on his behalf at the start of his trial;
- I do not want anyone I care about to be denied needed medical treatment, retried and given a life sentence in jail, to sate a public outcry;
- his retrial had nothing to do with the seeking and furtherance of justice
Was the original trial a farce, or the retrial a farce?
- Guy Turcotte entered a legally accepted plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Temporary Insanity;
- provided experts to back up his claim, that both the jury and the presiding judge believed;
- a verdict of not guilty by reason of temporary insanity was reached by a legally appointed jury, the judge in agreement with them;
- Guy Turcotte is ordered to be treated for his mental illness and held in a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane, until such time as he could be deemed cured and found no longer a threat to society, by doctors better qualified to make that determination than the courts.
- the Crown appealed the verdict in answer to public and political pressure;
- appeal granted and retrial ends just before Christmas;
- Guy Turcotte found guilty at second kick at the can trial;
- Sentenced to life in prison, with no mandatory psychiatric treatment;
- retrial calmed the public and satiated its lust for vengeance.
I think that the first trial was the trial in which justice was served, and the punishment, warranted. All aspects of in accordance with what the case was about, and not according to pressure from public backlash.
If what happened to Guy Turcotte is to be considered justice, why does the defence of Guilty by Reason of Temporary Insanity exist in Canadian law? What has happened to Guy Turcotte proves to me that Canadians no longer believe, or support, the notion that:
- Not Guilty by Reason of Temporary Insanity is a valid defense;
- justice is served when persons are determined to be not guilty after using the defense, and are sentenced to be treated for mental illnesses, and held in psychiatric facilities for the criminally insane, until such time as they can be deemed cured and found no longer a threat to society;
- doctors are better qualified to make the determination of an accused’s mental state at the time of a crime, and equally qualified to determine when that persons in their care are no longer a danger to society and should be released, then lawyers, judges, the press, and the Canadian public?
Why have jury trials in the first place, when jurors:
- generally have no knowledge of the law?
- are not required to spell out why and how they arrived at their decision?
- are not trained to put aside their personal feelings towards the accused and often are found to determine guilt or innocence as well as the punishment to be meted out by their intuition and who gave the better show; Defence or Crown?
What bothers me the most about the use of the, Not Guilty by Reason of Temporary Insanity Plea is the word temporary because;
- it allows for the accused to be well again, the moment after the crime has been committed, and still be eligible to use the defence, and if found not guilty, to walk away and not be held accountable for whatever crime they have committed; in this case the crime would have been the murder of 2 babies while they slept;
- undergoing 6 months to a year worth of psychiatric therapy and monitoring, and then being declared no longer a danger to society for heinous crimes, such as murder, offends my sense of justice served for the victims and their families.
What do I think should be done to improve the type of justice found in today’s justice system:
- remove the choice of trial by jury and stick to trial by judge;
- remove the Not Guilty by Reason of Temporary Insanity plea.