Pubdate: Tue, 25 Nov 2008
Source: Campbell River Mirror (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Campbell River Mirror
Author: Judge Brian H. Saunderson


In your issue of November 21, 2008 you chose to publish a letter from
Sgt. Darrel D. Brown, a retired Sheriff with 29 years of service in
Los Angeles County.

The letter appeared under the bold caption "Court sends the wrong
message." Of course, it was your right to publish the letter as is
without editing it, or not publish it at all. But because it concerned
such a high profile matter in our fair city, and on its face was so
contentious, you might have checked it for accuracy and, in a
companion article on the same page, pointed out its failings.

Indeed, it would have been appropriate for Mr. Brown to have ensured
that his letter was factually correct before submitting it for
publication. The citizens of Campbell River deserve better from you
and from him. I will set the record straight.

Judge Jack did not participate in the "deal" that was made between
Crown counsel Christopher Gibson and defence counsel Douglas Marion.
To have done so would have been improper.

He was presented with a joint submission regarding sentence after a
plea bargain had been negotiated privately between the lawyers.

Our Court of Appeal has said that, while judges are not required to
accept and follow joint submissions, they must treat them as very
persuasive and not reject them unless they are clearly wrong.

In this case, Julie Hansen was charged with (i.e. accused of)
possession of money obtained from drug trafficking, possession of a
small quantity of marijuana, and trafficking in cocaine, all occurring
in early July 2008.

The court denied bail and ordered her detained in custody until the
matter was finally concluded.

She entered pleas of not guilty on all matters, as was her

By the time she was sentenced on November 7, 2008, she had spent some
4 months in jail.

Crown and defence counsel agreed to a deal whereby she would plead
guilty to possession of about 5 grams of marijuana, and the other
charges would be dropped.

I am informed that Crown counsel made the deal knowing there was no
substantial likelihood of conviction. That is one of two criteria he
must consider before proceeding to trial.

It is Crown counsel, not the police, who decide what charges to lay
and whether to proceed to trial on any or all charges.

Judge Jack ordered that the money seized by the police from Julie
Hansen, some $1,730, be returned to her, not to her lawyer.

In light of the charge to which she pled guilty, there was no legal
basis for the police to keep the money.

Mr. Marion took the case on a legal aid basis, which means his fees
are paid, ultimately, by the taxpayer, not his client.

Mr. Brown wrote, "I am sure that the returned monies were given as
payment to the defence lawyer; thus he was also "paid off" with drug
money." No factual basis was given for that assertion. The statement
is probably libellous.

The Court did not send the wrong message. The court sent no message at

It acted completely in accordance with the law.

Judge Brian H. Saunderson
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