Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Court date

Today I went to Traffic Court in the West end of the Capital. It's a new building beside Algonquin College, it use to be in an old building at Rideau and Nicholas street. There was a lot of people for different offence to the traffic code. I thought I am going to be here all day. The judge came in wearing her judicial black robe and a green sash indicating she is a Justice of the Peace, other colours indicate other types of Courts, Scarlet sash is a Provincial Court Judge, Burgundy is Superior Court or Court of Appeal Judge, Gold is Federal Court Judge, Purple sash is a Federal Tax Court Judge, Fur line in Red robes is a Supreme Court Judge, only 9 of those in Ottawa.

It was interesting to say the least to listen to the judge explain the proceedings and how it all works, I quickly realized how little we understand of the operations of the justice system. The judge explained that if your car was found on the spot where you got your ticket you are guilty but can provide an explanation and mitigate the fine. Otherwise you go to trial with all that that entails. It is impressive and a little frightening all the same. Yo must take your hat off in Court and no cell phones or food. You must stand when speaking to the Judge and speak directly to the Judge. Exiting the Court you are required to walk backwards and bow to the Judge if you are an Officer of the Court or a Police Officer.

A Court of Justice even if it is just for a traffic offence is a very formal place. All rise when the judge enters and the clerk says, all rise for Justice XXX, the Court is in session, come forward and be heard. The judge then asks you what will you plead and then ask what is your explanations. Important to note that the Judge speaks to you and not the other way around. Stick to the facts and be polite. Some of the testimony was quite funny, per example one gentleman who had difficulty in English explained that his little nephew had to go to the washroom and he had to stop and yes he was too close to the fire hydrant, the rule in Ontario is a distance of 3 meters or 9 feet, he was only 3 feet away. So the judge sentenced him to pay $30 dollars instead of the $75. because of the little nephew. Another lady did not know how to plead, maybe I will plead in the middle she said, what do you mean the Judge asked, well not guilty and guilty too, she said. The Judge explained to her that you could not do that, its one or the other. The lady then said ok what to you advise me to do then, the Judge told her that she could not tell her how to plead. So finally the lady said ok well then I will plead guilty but I have a good explanation. I also noted that there was a lot of poor people in Court, they cannot pay right away and ask if the Court can wait for 2 weeks for the fine payment, the Judge gave all one month to pay. Many did not show up at all, and that is not a good thing, at that point you are deemed guilty and the police will have you on their radar. The licence bureau will also be notified and the computer keeps tabs, so there is no escape the long arm of the law.

I had a good explanation for my parking offence and got a reduced fine, so I went away happy. Despite the crowd it only took all together 35 minutes.

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  1. Glad you didn't end up in the slammer.

  2. Did I tell you I wore a suit in Court, I probably was the one. I do not do slammers.

  3. When I was last in Canada I ran into Mr. Harper at a local bar. He told me he is bringing back flogging for first offenses for traffic violations. He was a bit drunk, so I think he forgot to propose the notion the next day.