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Law&Disorder - 2

WRITER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, SOLIPSIST, FALLIBILIST

You might also ask why should anyone care? Stewart is a scumbag drug dealer and wife beater. Better to have him off the street than peddling drugs to our children. Right?

Wrong. He did not commit the crime for which he was convicted. Any more than did Milgaard or Hurricane Carter. And every time this happens, and Law and Disorder will show that it happens more often than not, it severely weakens our democracy and those rights and freedoms we take so much for granted.

The organizations for the wrongly convicted throughout North American estimate that as many as 50% of the people now doing time in federal and state prisons are not guilty of the crimes of which they were convicted.

The police investigations of Robert Stewart and Clayton Johnson and James Driskell, the man from Manitoba who was just released on bail after spending the past ten years of his life in jail for a crime he did not commit, are all characterized by the same intransigence, ineptitude and intractability on the part of the police and the prosecutors; intransigence, ineptitude and intractability that characterized the investigations and prosecutions of Milgaard, Carter, Nelles, Marshall, Truscott, and Guy Paul Morin.

In the case of Guy Paul Morin, the Kaufmann Commission found that many of the actions of the police and prosecutors were atrocious, malicious, unthinking, even criminal. The commissioner strongly recommended further action. Nevertheless, individuals involved with the investigation and prosecutions of Morin who were singled out, such as the ďfamedĒ prosecutor from the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, Leo McQuigan, got away unscathed. Shortly after the commissionís findings were published, (and after the government paid Morin a paltry $1.2 M in reparations), McQuigan retired on full petition and now lives a quiet, comfortable life.

Where there have been other inquiries and commissions, the commissioners also came to similar conclusions. And yet, by-in-large, the general perception of the police and prosecutors as civic-minded, well-intentioned, relatively benign public servants whose only intention is to serve and protect does not seemed to have changed one iota. If anything, that illusion seems to have become more entrenched. 

These horrible miscarriages of justice, one after another, have apparently done nothing to shake the average citizenís faith in these powerful, unassailable, and unaccountable denizens  of the dark world of law and order.

 Law and Disorder will not only analyze the similarities in these many cases, but also draw conclusions about the real value and effect of modern policing and prosecutorial process in the twenty-first century. We do not live in nearly as open and free society as we think and the veracity of that statement is never going to be more clearly understood than after a thorough review of this phenomenon that should once and for all change the old cliche about the Mounties always getting their man to something like the Mounties always get somebody, anybody, regardless of guilt or innocence. This is a system that functions on the illusion of innocence until proven otherwise. In fact, the reality is exactly the opposite. As soon as one is accused, the presumption, both publicly and privately, is guilt.

 The question then becomes, how often do our supposed defenders become our mortal enemies? How thin is the line between the cop and the criminal? Is there a seminal problem at the root of the way in which police persons are recruited, trained and managed? Should institutions such as the police and the Ministry of the Attorney General be allowed to maintain such distance, secrecy and dangerously unassailable power as they now do?    

 The first section of Law and Disorder will provide a condensed and accessible history of the evolution of modern policing from J. Edgar Hoover to the present. It will demonstrate the profound and questionable influence Hoover has had on how things are done today and why it was predicable that cracks would form in something built on such a shaky foundation. The first section will also examine how criminal investigations work and how the police interact with prosecutors, and the love/hate nature of that relationship.

 The second section will provide, in a readable and dramatic fashion, an analysis of many different cases of wrongful convictions or wrongful prosecutions or botched prosecutions towards the establishment of a pattern of behavior and failure that is easily just as common, but less well-known and understood, as the systemís successes. The fact is, prosecutorial and police malfeasance, ineptitude and bungling is not an occasional thing. Law and Disorder will show that, if not epidemic, it is far too common and something about which we should all be very concerned.

The third section will focus on the bizarre case of Robert Stewart. In and of itself, this is a compelling story that reads like a short novel by Paul Auster. A true story, at 49 Stewart is doing life without parole at Collins Bay, it will illustrate, in a very compelling way, many of the remarkable flaws and foibles, and a few more besides, explicated by the examination of the tragedies that befell far more sympathetic characters such as Guy Paul Morin and Susan Nelles.

I can well imagine the reader in a state of conflict between why they should care about a low-life like Stewart and the fascinating, bizarre behavior of the police and the prosecutors. Unable to reconcile their psychic dissonance, the reader will be driven forward to the conclusion.

The conclusion will be just that - a summary and what may be drawn from the establishment of the fact that the judicial system gets it wrong as least as often that it gets it right, and one of the profound reasons for this systemic failure is where it all begins - with the police and their investigations and how the police interact with the prosecutors. The system, while perhaps not fatally, is at present, chronically flawed and the results are, as often as not, the opposite of what is desired, demanded or deserved.

In conclusion, Law and Disorder will answer the question about what, if anything, can be done about it.

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