In the news: The Rule of Law?

by Michael A. Johnston

We have a system of justice that purports to treat all people equally; Lady Justice is most often blind-folded, for that reason. However, even as an ideal, the concept of equality can have differing effects on differing people. A philosopher once quipped: "the law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

Sometimes, the law has to be applied differently to achieve equal results. However, in Halifax, it appears that while free citizens remain barred from breaking into and committing assaults therein, the law is a bit different if you are a police officer. This story tragically confirms the inequality that plagues our system and can tarnish the public's confidence. Two police officers reported to a noise complaint, and by the time they finally arrived, the noise appears to have subsided, and the party concluded. No matter. Without a warrant, they broke into the house, and proceeded to strike several of the occupants; when a man came to his sister's aide, he was tazered, in the face.

To add insult to this constitutional injury, the occupants were charged with assault police, and resist arrest! Those charges would be dropped. However, the people were not able to recover their thousands in legal fees.

And, what happened to the two officers? One of them was sanctioned for illegal entry and assault, by a police complaint board...and suspended him for two weeks, placed him on temporary supervision and recommended anger management.

Neither officer was charged criminally.

It is cases like this that show that maybe Lady Justice has worse eyesight than we thought!