The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Monday, June 09, 2008

We though the law protected us from criminals. Who protects us from judges?

So let's get this straight...

- The police get a tip that some drug dealers are about to make a delivery. - They're given the make of car and exact licence number.

- They stop the car, arrest the drug dealers at gunpoint, and find they're transporting what the newspaper describes as "a large amount" of marijuana and methamphetamine.
- A judge throws out the evidence and blames the police for stopping the drug dealers.

Yup. That pretty much summarizes the justice system in Manitoba.

To cap it off, Queen's Bench Justice Brenda Keyser said she was letting the drug dealer in her court go free because that's what the public would want. To convict him because he got caught red handed with the drugs would, in the words of the Free Press, "send the wrong message to both police and society at large."

Say what?

Is Keyser on drugs? What wrong message would convicting a meth dealer send? That justice was working?

No, silly.

"The average citizen would be disturbed to discover that he or she could be surrounded by armed police, removed from a car at gunpoint and handcuffed on the ground without proper investigatory steps being first undertaken to determine whether or not there was a legal basis for such action."

Newsflash for Brenda Keyser. The average citizen would stand up and applaud the police for arresting a meth dealer, stopping his car as quickly as possible, sticking a gun in his face, and handcuffing him in public. The average citizen wouldn't be the least worried about a warrant because the average citizen doesn't go about dealing drugs. The average citizen has nothing but contempt for judges like you who live in some airy-fairy world where you go out of your way to free criminals and attack the police for doing their job and doing it well.

Hardly a week goes by without some boneheaded judge demonstrating how out of touch with reality he or she is. Step right up trailblazer Judge Ron Meyers who gave a convicted killer one day in jail. The only time judges get tough is when one of their own gets threatened. Otherwise, they put the criminal ahead of the citizen every time.

We live in a society where judges claim the right to make law whenever they feel like it and nobody can do anything about it. Where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Swami Bev McLaughlin searches the cosmos for unwritten laws to apply to overule Parliament whenever she feels like it, and nobody can say anything against it.

Well it's time somebody did something about it. It's past time. The tyranny of the judiciary must be ended.

The Manitoba government wants to radically overhaul the political system in Manitoba. They've even started musing about electing Senators. But confronted with major objections to their self-serving plans, they put over to the fall session of the Legislature their bills to scrap balanced budget legislation, to kneecap the Opposition and to tap taxpayers to fund the NDP's election campaigns.

This hiatus is an unexpected opportunity to truly overhaul the system and bring it into the 21st century. Instead of the phony changes the NDP wants to slip in, the Legislature should adopt something the public would embrace in a flash---ELECTED JUDGES.

The legal community would sooner endorse pedophelia than accept electing judges. But we're talking about what real people want, not lawyers.

The primary objection to elected judges is the question of independence. Judges who run for election will cater to the mob. They'll be beholden to party machines that raise money for their campaigns. They'll represent political parties rather than the law.

As if they don't already.

The purity of judges is a myth and everybody knows it.

Remember the Gomery inquiry into the Liberal Party sponsorship scandal? Benoit Corbeil, a former president of the Quebec wing of the Liberals, told reporters that up to eight Quebec lawyers who volunteered to work on Liberal election campaigns became judges.

The Ottawa Citizen did some digging. On May 6, 2004, they reported that more than 60% of the 93 lawyers who were appointed judges in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, after the 2000 federal election, had donated funds exclusively to the Liberal Party in the 3 to 5 years prior to their appointments. (Phew, that's a mouthfull.) As well, a majority of the 93 had served in some capacity with the governing Liberals.

"This isn't simply a freakish coincidence," said Vic Toews, the Opposition justice critic at the time. Toews, himself, is now rumoured to be in position to be named a judge.

In 1984, the Canadian Bar Association released a publication identifying ten problems with the appointment process as it existed, before vetting by the Judicial Advisory Committees was introduced, and among them were:
the public perceives that appointments are often politically motivated;
in some provinces politics have played too large a role in appointments;


So, the public has always considered the appointment of judges to be politically influenced, but lawyers don't want a process to elect judges because they're afraid the public will see the judges as politically influenced. Uh, huh.

The Canadian Bar Association in a release dated March 24, 2004 declared: "The CBA is strongly opposed to any system which would expose judges to Parliamentary criticism of their judgments, or cross-examination on their belief or preferences or judicial opinions, or any measure which would give to Canadians the mistaken impression that the judicial branch answers to the legislative branch."

Well that ship has sailed.

Newsflash to the CBA...Once judges seized the power to make laws without reference to Parliament, they became PART of the Legislative Branch and subject to all the criticisms that comes with it. And the very essence of democracy is subjecting the legislative branch of government to the will of the people.

But, but, but the lawyers cry. You can't do it without a constitutional amendment.

Sez who?

Alberta held an election and the winner became the Senator-elect who was eventually appointed to represent Alberta in the Senate. No constitutional amendment was necessary. Now Saskatchewan is close to adopting Senate elections and Manitoba is at least talking about it. No constitutional amendment necessary.

A wide-open election for judge is a crapshoot; just look at the Grade Z quality of some city councillors and federal MP's. The front-runner model for electing judges is how they do it in Missouri.

In Missouri they appoint judges for one year, then let people vote on them. Then after another four years, the judge stands for re-election. In other words, its more of a vote of confidence, or non-confidence, that comes after the public has had a chance to assess the judge in action.

In Manitoba, provincial law governs the appointment and fate of provincial court judges. The attorney general has the power to appoint temporary judges. That would correspond to the one year trial period of the Missouri model. Provincial laws allow for the removal of a judge for misconduct or incapacity. It is a simple matter to add the loss of re-election to the list. No constitutional amendment required.

Higher court judges are another problem. They're appointed by the federal government and can sit until age 75. Removal of a judge for anything less than a criminal conviction is unheard of.

Old-timers in Manitoba still cringe at the memory of Appeal Court Justice Joseph O'Sullivan shuffling into court in the throes of senility, asking questions that showed he had no grasp of the matter before him, talking to himself on the bus to work. Yet nobody in the legal community or political realm thought he should be removed for the benefit of the public.
The constitution permits a federally appointed judge (Supreme court, appeal court, federal court) to be removed only with a motion from both the House of Commons and Senate. Parliament can pass a law saying that such a motion is automatically triggered whenever a judge fails to win a Missouri-style election. No constitutional amendment necessary.

The disconnect between judges, justice and the public has gone too far.

Parliament passes maximum sentences and judges declare that Parliament's will is irrelevent and the only maximum they will accept is one imposed by another judge.

Parliament passes minimum penalties and judges say they're unconstitutional or else they challenge the politicians and campaign openly against mandatory minimums as an infringement on their independence.

But when the public demands tougher sentencing for car thieves who repeatedly mock the law, judges say their hands are tied by the legislation and its up to Parliament to change it.

And if all else fails, they make up law which wasn't passed by Parliament or which expressly contradicts the intent of the elected legislators.

Criminal law exists to protect innocent citizens from criminals. Now we need someone to protect us from judges.

The answer is elected judges who will know they must answer to the public eventually.

If Brenda Keyser thinks protecting criminals from the police is supported by the public, she should have no fear of standing for a vote of non-confidence.

We've got our ballot already filled out.

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