I’m back from vacation, and will resume my regular blogging routine. My thanks to those of you who stuck it through the past couple of weeks. Happy New Year!
I consider myself lucky for a long list of reasons, but certainly chief among them is the truly impressive friends that I have amassed over the years. It’s often difficult (perhaps impossible) to engage in any kind of self-assessment that isn’t wildly coloured by self-serving biases, despite our best attempts to overcome them. I take no small amount of comfort, therefore, in making self-evaluations by proxy through my close friends. I admire and deeply respect these people, and the fact that they seem to actually enjoy my company (or at least do an excellent job of pretending to do so) leads me to suspect that I must be doing things at least halfway right.
One such friend is a young woman I met while studying at Queen’s. Kelly (not her real name) and I met while I was working at a bar in Kingston. She is a fiercely intelligent person who is very knowledgable about matters philosophical as well as legal (she’s now a law student at Queen’s with an undergrad in philosophy). I was able to meet up with her during my vacation in Toronto to catch up. We got to talking about her experiences working at a legal clinic in Kingston, and defending her first actual client as ‘first chair’ of the legal team. She was understandably excited that she was able to steer her client away from undeserved jail time (a sad story involving drugs, a negligent mother and overzealous police officers).
One of the legal maneuvers she was able to exploit in her client’s defense is a process called ‘diversion‘ – basically it is a way of having ostensibly guilty first-time offenders perform community service and restitution in lieu of jail time. From her description of the way it works, it requires agreement from the prosecutor (which is often not that difficult to obtain) that the defendant is essentially ‘a good guy’ who can make recompense and slide through without going to prison. Now, I have a notoriously bad poker face, so she immediately knew about my knee-jerk misgivings when it came to a program like this. After all, who could object to a program that includes the exercise of judicial restraint and principles of justice? [Read more…]