Monday, June 5, 2017

On the most flimsy of pretexts, the provincial court judge at a preliminary hearing for her attacker ordered the mother of four to be held at the Edmonton Remand Centre for almost a week to ensure she’d testify. She was forced to travel in the prison van between the remand centre and court house with her attacker. She had to sit handcuffed and shackled for hours on end, waiting to testify. The judge who ordered this treatment was Ray Bodnarek, Alberta’s former deputy minister of justice. Before his appointment to the bench by the Redford government in 2013, he was the department’s highest-ranking bureaucrat.--------------Toni Alarcon · San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Almost incomprehensible?? Both this judge Bodnarek and crown prosecutor Patricia Innes should get their arses fired now! Who are these people?? Like · Reply · 27 mins Julie Ali · University of Alberta I agree with you. And what is even more surprising is that Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has not even mentioned this as a penalty for this abuse of power.

An investigation into the abuse of power that lead to a sexual assault victim being jailed for no damn reason isn't enough in my opinion. The GOA and the Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley need to take more appropriate action. I'm not sure how judges and crown prosecutors are fired but this needs to happen. Or can we expect to see more victims in jail in Alberta because of a non-existent flight risk?


If a middle-class white woman hesitated to testifying against her rapist, she wouldn’t end up in chains.
EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM

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The court of public opinion is needed here not an investigation into a failed performance by a provincial court judge in Alberta. The court of public opinion considers this an abuse of power that is preferential. In other words, this would never have happened to a rich Riverbend woman who would have got a lawyer stat to spring her from jail and follow up with complaints to the media and the law society of Alberta. Nope. This junk happened because this woman was poor, First Nations and homeless. No ability to defend her self. And where is the justice minister in this mess? Yapping about the odd nature of the business and the need to spend money on an investigation instead of firing both the judge and the crown prosecutor involved in this case. Or are these folks above the law?

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http://edmontonjournal.com/news/crime/paula-simons-apology-too-little-too-late-for-sexual-assault-victim-sent-to-remand-centre

Paula Simons: Apology too little, too late, for sexual assault victim sent to remand centre

Published on: June 5, 2017 | Last Updated: June 5, 2017 8:04 PM MDT
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Minister Ganley addresses treatment of a victim of crime
She was kidnapped. Sexually assaulted. Choked. Stabbed.
Then she was brutalized by the justice system meant to protect her.
The story — first reported by the CBC this week — of what happened to a 28-year-old Cree woman sounds like a horror movie.
On the most flimsy of pretexts, the provincial court judge at a preliminary hearing for her attacker ordered the mother of four to be held at the Edmonton Remand Centre for almost a week to ensure she’d testify.
She was forced to travel in the prison van between the remand centre and court house with her attacker. She had to sit handcuffed and shackled for hours on end, waiting to testify.
The judge who ordered this treatment was Ray Bodnarek, Alberta’s former deputy minister of justice. Before his appointment to the bench by the Redford government in 2013, he was the department’s highest-ranking bureaucrat.
Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley called the series of events “almost incomprehensible.”
“We can’t even imagine what she went through in the van, trapped with the man who attacked her,” Ganley told a hastily called news conference Monday.
Ganley apologized on behalf of Alberta Justice, and announced she had appointed criminal lawyer Roberta Campbell, president of the Law Society of Manitoba, to conduct an independent investigation. Ganley also struck a special expert committee to examine ways to prevent such situations in the future.
It’s heartening to see Ganley publicly condemn what happened, to pledge decisive action. But however adroitly she’s managing the political fallout, let’s not look away from just how horribly this case went off the rails.
In June 2014, the young woman — whose name is subject to a publication ban — was brutally, bloodily assaulted by Lance David Blanchard. Blanchard was six-foot-five and had just been released from prison eight months before, after serving a 34-year sentence for sexual assault, manslaughter and other violent offences.
The victim managed to call 911, and saved her own life.
Lance David Blanchard, a violent sex offender with a long criminal record, is six-foot-five and weighs 220 pounds.EDMONTON POLICE SERVICE / EDMONTON POLICE SERVICE
When the preliminary hearing began a year later, no one told her about it. Two days before she was supposed to testify, she actually approached two police officers whom she knew. They told her she had to appear in court. Since she was still homeless, they found a hotel room for her, then moved her to her mother’s house. The next morning, they picked her up and gave her a ride to court. She testified. But she was agitated, unfocused. It was Friday afternoon, and Crown prosecutor Patricia Innes was concerned she might not return Monday. Rather than assign a support worker to help her or police officer to escort her, the court remanded her for the weekend. There she stayed for five nights as the preliminary hearing dragged on.
When the criminal case finally went to trial before Justice Eric Macklin of the Court of Queen’s Bench, Macklin was horrified. He called the woman an intelligent and eloquent witness. Her testimony, he said, was “clear, coherent, lucid and responsive.”
Macklin said she had never been a flight risk.
“She was never missing and had never failed to appear,” he wrote. “She told the court the true facts concerning her whereabouts and asked that she simply be taken to her mother’s home. When told of concerns that she would not come back to court, she responded that she promised to do so. Nevertheless, the court again remanded the complainant into custody.”
There was no legal or logical basis to hold the woman in remand. Even if she had been a flight risk, what possible justification was there to keep her shackled and handcuffed in court for days on end? Or to force her, repeatedly, into close quarters with the man charged with her attempted murder? Such behaviour was cruel and callous. Sure, the Crown wanted to win its case. But this surreal maltreatment of the traumatized victim actually put the integrity of the trial at risk.
Sexual assault victims are often nervous about testifying. But let’s be honest. If this victim hadn’t been indigenous, and hadn’t been poor, this never would have happened. If a middle-class, non-aboriginal woman expressed hesitations about testifying against her rapist, she wouldn’t end up behind bars. Meanwhile, how many marginalized women will now think twice about pressing charges for fear of being re-victimized by the courts?
Macklin found Blanchard guilty of kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and related offences. The Crown wants him deemed a dangerous offender. Blanchard’s lawyer, on the other hand, wants whatever his sentence will be reduced — because, he says, Blanchard has endured poor living conditions while in remand.
But Blanchard’s victim isn’t here to appreciate that bleak irony.
The Remand Centre: an appropriate place for a sexual assault victim, waiting to testify? Or a draconian overreaction by the court and the Crown? IAN KUCERAK / POSTMEDIA
She didn’t hear Ganley’s apologies. She never saw Blanchard’s conviction. She was killed in late 2015, an innocent, accidental victim, struck by a stray bullet — in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In his judgment, Macklin noted the woman’s sense of humour. He mentioned a poem she’d written, which she’d recited at the preliminary hearing.
“Unfortunately, her life circumstances did not allow society to see or experience her intelligence and artistic qualities,” he wrote.
How tragic that a different judge, the former deputy minister of justice, saw not a poet or a victim, but someone who deserved shackles and a cage.
psimons@postmedia.com


13 Comments
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Julie Ali · 
"The judge who ordered this treatment was Ray Bodnarek, Alberta’s former deputy minister of justice. Before his appointment to the bench by the Redford government in 2013, he was the department’s highest-ranking bureaucrat."

If the highest bureaucrat at the Justice Department at the GOA --in his appointment to the bench could disregard the human rights of this woman in this anti-democratic fashion --I wonder what is going on in the justice system. Are there many PC appointed judges of this nature in our judicial system in Alberta? I am also curious why he is still a judge after this abuse of power.

Doesn't the GOA think it necessary to remove this judge from his position? What guarantee do citizens have that this flagrant abuse of power won't happen again? Why has there been no complaint to the Law Society of Alberta?

It is troubling to see that the judge only receives the review of the court of public opinion rather than real review from his professional body and the government of Alberta. The investigation proposed by Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley is not enough. There needs to be accountability for this failure to treat a sexual assault victim with appropriate responses. I do not believe this sort of heavy handed confinement would have happened to a sexual assault victim from Riverbend. It is my opinion, this abuse of power happened because this woman was an impoverished First Nations woman without any sort of clout in this society. Utterly shameful.
LikeReply92 hrsEdited
Toni Alarcon · 
And then to put this women into the same vehicle with the man who brutalized her just blows ones mind! Alberta is full of conservative judges like this! Remember that Calgary judge who asked a women why she didn't just close her legs? Sad part is that this investigation will go nowhere! At most a glove slap on the wrist!
LikeReply32 hrs
Julie Ali · 
Toni Alarcon That is why there needs to be action by the justice minister and by the GOA. The investigation will provide no new information; this is the usual way the GOA handles "emerging issues" that they don't want the public to focus on. Unfortunately, this tactic tends to work as in the case of the over 800 dead kids in care where we had first the roundtable of spin by the PCs and now the #PanelPolitics by the NDPCs. No matter the political party we hire, the GOA and the system stays the same. Very sad. But there you go.
LikeReply22 hrs
Mina Lee
I so agree with you! And it's so disturbing we have judges like this -- and he was the former deputy minister of justice?! What a joke!
UnlikeReply21 hr
Salman Siddiqui
Judges are appointed for life. Removal of a judge can only be done by the Chief Justice with full process overseen by Judges Council (?)

As far as I know it's not an easy process. The idea behind this is to ensure that Judges cannot be pressurised into partisan judgments.

Ministers or the government (executive branch or legislative branch) has no say in removal.
LikeReply15 mins
Julie Ali · 
Salman Siddiqui Wow. This seems like a difficult process but it should be initiated.
LikeReply1 minEdited
Cynthia Geria Ganga · 
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Alice McNabb Gradauer
Why is there a publication ban on her name and why has cbc used a typical indigenous name instead of Jane Doe? I wonder how the women actually named Angela Cardinal feel. I hope the inquiry into MMIW is paying attention to this incident, which is such an illustration of deep disrespect by powerful people.
UnlikeReply155 mins
Julie Ali · 
I don't see the reason for the ban on her name either unless the family requested this.
LikeReply2 mins
Clayton Coroon · 
Crazy thing is this is happen over and over until these judges realize it isn't 1880 anymore.
This idiot should immediately be replaced.
UnlikeReply32 hrs
Toni Alarcon · 
Almost incomprehensible?? Both this judge Bodnarek and crown prosecutor Patricia Innes should get their arses fired now! Who are these people??
LikeReply63 hrs
Julie Ali · 
I agree with you. And what is even more surprising is that Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has not even mentioned this as a penalty for this abuse of power.
LikeReply33 hrs
Salman Siddiqui
Government cannot fire a judge. Chief Justice has to complete the process with full Judges Council to do so.
LikeReply12 mins
Jeanne Lauck
Too many people sit in remand wrongly....ask the dads falsely accused of domestic violence who do not have the means of hiring a lawyer to defend them..
LikeReply11 hr
Brenda Peachey
that poor woman....disgusting treatment!! so is the ignorant judge being held accountable for his stupidity? probably not...right?
LikeReply48 minsEdited
Julie Ali · 
There is an investigation. Usually what this means is nothing happens.
LikeReplyJust now




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