Monday, June 30, 2008

Vetting files: justice can be glamorous

Part of my job involves vetting federal Crown files, which means summarizing the circumstances of the arrest, writing down the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act charges, and double-checking that every police officer involved in the file has submitted a typed report of the incident and a photocopy of his or her handwritten on-scene notes. The paralegals don't relish this job, so they're only too happy to let me do it. It's awesome: I get to read about every drug arrest in the city, from the high school kids caught smoking pot in the woods, to the dope fiends selling street-corner Oxycontin one and two pills at a time, to the armed gangstas making coke deliveries all over town. I've gotten to know the shadiest neighbourhoods and the shadiest people in London. That's London Ontario, quiet retirement community and squalid crack den.

I've also gotten to feel like I know a lot of the London police, both uniformed and undercover. They have to do an astonishing amount of paperwork for every incident, all of it pored over by defence lawyers hoping to catch them breaching the accused persons' Charter rights. Unfortunately for the defence, the police have gone through the motions so many times before that they almost always know what they're forbidden from doing, and how to circumvent such obstacles.

Most of the files I get to read, though still amusing, are pretty homogeneous: traffic stops resulting in possession arrests, undercover buy-bust operations, or surveillance of unwary dealers on high-drug-traffic street corners. Frequently, however, a CDSA charge will accompany a Criminal Code charge. Then I get to read something more colourful: possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of homemade nunchuks, kiddie porn dungeons, threatening a peace officer, attempted murder (in downtown Ilderton, no less!), various modes of assault.

I vetted a file today in which a guy was booked for domestic assault. The incident occurred after he put down his X-Box Live to have a dispute with his common law wife regarding the whereabouts of her cigarettes. Believing she was hiding them from him, he chased her around their home, becoming increasingly irate until he slapped a slice of pizza out of her hand and punched her in the face. She called the cops (though not before hitting him back) and he was duly arrested. The arresting officer's typed report included the following:
"En route to cells, Sleazy McDirtbag repeatedly asked me why he was being taken to jail when Mrs. McDirtbag had struck him in the face as well. I advised him he was responsible for starting the physical portion of the argument when he slapped the pizza into her face, which constitutes assault. McDirtbag argued with me over the flawed nature of our criminal justice system, commenting that I should be arresting all those druggies on Dundas St., McDirtbag pointing out several people as we drove by en route to cells."
Obviously I've taken some liberties (though he did write "all those druggies"), but the officer clearly enjoyed the episode. This gem doesn't appear to be drug-related and thus wouldn't normally cross my desk, but for the fact that in the time it took for his girlfriend to call the police on him, for the police to interview her, for the police to interview him, and for the police to finally arrest him, the poor stupid bastard didn't think to get rid of the marijuana in the waistband of his pants.

Et voila. I look forward to whatever tomorrow might bring!

1 comment:

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