Compassion in the court

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Yesterday for school I was sent to the Law Courts to find a story.

James Turner, a court reporter in Winnipeg, told my class that in room 408 there was a murder trial. He hadn’t heard any details about it. I was intrigued and headed there with two of my classmates.

A group of about a dozen law students were in the same room. Then the accused’s family crowded in.

There wasn’t room for the entire family to sit. But I didn’t give up my seat.

I was afraid the judge would kick out anyone who wasn’t sitting. And I needed a story.

I put my assignment ahead of the family.

When the judge came in, he told the defence lawyer to give his extra chair to the family. The Crown attorney gave up the chair he was sitting in. 

A couple years ago Sarvasati Productions put on a play that likened the criminal justice system to a zoo, where people would come and ogle the criminals. The judge would throw them in jail without thinking of their background or the real consequences of incarceration. This scene was going through my mind.

Until the judge told the aunt, who had left the court room after being asked to remove her hat, that because of her medical condition it was fine that her hat stay on.

He asked the defence lawyer to introduce each family member.

After giving the sentence in jargon, he explained it in plain language directly to the accused, who was wiping her cheeks with tissue the security guard had gotten up and walked across the room to get her.

And I felt like the biggest asshole, sitting their scribbling in my notebook with the dozen other students like it was some learning experience, not somebody’s life.

 

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