“Law structures and guides human behaviour in a variety of ways: through the content of the rules it makes, the way its officials behave, and/or the severity of the penalties it imposed on those who do not conform to its requirements.”(Hay, 2004) In this essay, I will examine to what extent does the Canadian Criminal Justice System structures human behaviour, and whether or not this behaviour portrays itself to reflect the values of the official version of law. I will examine how the differences in behaviour, practices and priorities of each player in the criminal justice system conflicts with one another, and whether it contradicts or reflects the values of the official version of law. The official version of law is very significant to all aspects of the criminal justice system because the degree to which the system reflects these values tells us whether the system is just.
The first case I observed was at Old City Hall, mental health court, room 102. The accused in this case was a homeless middle aged woman who had attempted to push a woman and her baby onto the subway train tracks. The judge, who was wearing a red sash, was sitting at an elevated position in the court, and the accused was sitting in the witness stand. The counsels were asking her questions, in order to come to a decision on whether she is eligible to be released back into society. The availability of a surety was discussed; the defence explained that the accused has no due to the fact that she has no relatives. The defence also argued how the accused does not have any previous encounters with the Criminal Justice System, which should be taken into account when considering her release. The defence’s language was very professional, and she spoke to the judge with the highest respect, referring to her as your Honour or your Majesty. The Crowns language was very professional as well, however I found her attitude was somewhat rude, and her tone was very impolite. However, the Crown was very stern with her arguments and effectively attacked every claim the defence. When it came to making a decision, the judge stated how she did not have any primary or tertiary grounds in concern to her release. The most concern was under secondary ground concerns considering the serious allegations. The judge decided that the Crown had met the onus considering that there was insufficient release plans, and her psychiatric analysis claims that the accused is a danger to society.
Another case I observed was a bail hearing, which was lead by a Justice of the Peace, which I noticed because she was wearing a green sash. When I walked in, the accused (black male) was sitting in the accused box, and there was a witness being questioned on the witness stand, who was a potential surety. The Crown was asking the witness why he feels he is an eligible surety, and how does he plan on assuring that the accused does not further engage in criminal behaviour. The witness said how if the accused did not abide by the conditions given he would go to jail for the accused. The Crown explained the witness that that was not legally feasible. The Crown and the witness discussed that if he was granted surety of the accused, and if the accused did not follow his bail conditions the witness would have to sell his car in order to pay the $10, 000 sureties. While this was going on I noticed that the defence attorney would constantly go over and speak to the accused and whisper in his ear. At one moment the Crown walked out to answer a phone call. I found this to be very informal and disrespectful to the courts. However, the call was concerning the case. What I found interesting about this case was how the witness advocated for the accused, and the remarks he was making. The witness expressed that the accused is aware of what he has done, and would like to be a law abiding citizen and have a good place in society once given the chance too. He also stated how the accused feels like a target in regards...
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