May 17, 2009

Criminal Justice in the Raw

  Constable Robinson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police turns on his flashing lights and gives a slight “brip” of the siren when he sees a driver weaving along the road. The driver pulls over, but then bails out of his car and starts running.
  The mountie gets out of his car, then catches and tackles the runner. Lomax, the 18-year-old prisoner, says he was trying to avoid arrest for “impaired driving.” Next, the prisoner tries something a bit unusual while confined in the cage unit in the back of the mountie’s patrol car. We’ll talk about that later.
  The next day, according to The Advocate newspaper, Lomax appears before Judge David MacNaughton in Provincial Court in the town of Settler. The two back rows in the courtroom are filled with 11th and 12th grade civics students from the William E. Hay Composite High School. The kids are there to observe the criminal justice system in action.
  As Constable Robinson and the prisoner begin testifying, the kids lose their composure completely. They are doubled up with laughter as the judge bangs his gavel ordering, “Quiet in the courtroom!” The teacher takes her young charges out into the corridors.
  What kind of testimony could possibly break up these kids so badly? Well, first the constable testified that he observed Lomax, in the back seat of the patrol car, rip off his undershorts and start to eat them.
  Lomax takes the stand and does not deny the mountie’s report. The defendant simply says he ate his shorts because he believed the cotton fiber would absorb the alcohol in his system, thereby reducing his blood-alcohol level.
  It must have worked! Lomax blew the legal limit of .08 on the Breathalyzer. The charges against Lomax are dismissed. The mountie later says that even Lomax found his own behavior disgusting because after he ate his shorts he threw up.
  What an amazing lesson in criminal justice the high school kids got that day in Provincial Court.

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