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Letter: Wrongs and rights in the N.L. justice system

Scales of justice.
SaltWire Network

If the assault-trial verdict by Judge Wayne Gorman which Russell Wangersky quoted in his column “Judge’s verdict is justice in a nutshell

June 2 ought not, indeed, to be required reading for people outraged by some acquittals, as Wangersky said it should, then that column ought to be so.

A court that acquits an accused who was guilty has failed to do something it ought to have done, but which perhaps it could not do.

A court that convicts an accused who is innocent — of the charge before the court, no matter how reprehensible other things he has done might be — has done something it ought not to have done and which ordinarily it can readily avoid doing.

It is the conviction of the innocent that is the essential injustice, rather than any punishment which might be imposed pursuant to that conviction.

The ensuing penalty is a misfortune attendant upon the injustice, and misfortunes happen all the time; an innocent person’s being acquitted is not a guarantee against his suffering misfortune worse than what would have been imposed if he had been convicted.

For instance, being acquitted of a murder charge in a state which mandates capital punishment is no guarantee against being killed soon after in a traffic accident.

“To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late...”

Doing what is wrong is worse than failing to do what would be right if one could do it.

Colin Burke

Port au Port

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