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DUMB DECISION BY CANADIAN JUDGE Robert Sheridan FawCawnahs bobsheridan@earthlink.net The judge's verdict was actually pretty sharp.

The law was the same as would be applied here.

The legal standard, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, is the same in both countries.

The judge's words added unnecessary insult to injury, rather like judges here who've been criticized, picketed by women's groups, or have found themselves challenged in the next election for criticizing sexual assault victims, young women, by saying words to the effect, "What did you expect, you wore provocative clothing."

Here's why the Canadian prosecutor had a loser:

There were two guys involved.

The guy on trial was not the guy who grabbed the money.

He was only the guy who offered to sell Mj. (He probably didn't have any on him when arrested, which may explain why not prosecuted for that, or maybe in Canada it's okay to sell Mj, I dunno, but I've seen tv magazine programs suggesting this might be the case).

The question was whether the guy on trial knew the other guy was going to rob the Vic. Probably not, because the victim was exposing his dough, unlike most people who frequent that neighborhood, according to victim and judge.

If the judge reasoned that the guy who got away, who actually stole the money, acted on impulse, on the spur of the moment to take advantage of the opportunity, was responsible for the robbery, and not the guy on trial for robbery, then it was right to acquit the one who didn't steal the money.

Not too long ago I represented a kid in a similar jam. Some kids he'd got off the bus with robbed another kid at the bus stop. My kid couldn't do anything about it, and ran with the rest after it happened. Looked guilty as hell, but didn't participate. Not participating means everything if you're not part of something. But being there looks bad, as does running.

Making matters worse, it turns out they ran to a pizza place where the kid who strong-armed the victim broke the $20 he stole and gave $5 to each of the other kids, including my client.

All of this was explained in trial to the judge. The victim said my kid had nothing to do with it; he was just there. Saw my kid walk away when the other boy robbed him. My kid had done all he could to show non-involvement. The law doesn't say he has to intervene to stop a robbery or else he'd be guilty. He just has not to participate.

Judge found him not guilty of the robbery (serious) but guilty of receiving stolen property (the $5) (not serious).
An outcome that fit the facts.

So I think the prosecutor lacked evidence of robbery by the guy he was prosecuting. A garden variety criminal law decision.

What made it newsworthy was the judge's remarks, better left unsaid, that it was the victim's fault for waving his money around in a high crime area.

I always told my kids, as my father told me, keep your money in your pocket in public places or you'll have it grabbed.

It's correct that the victim's contributory negligence doesn't count as a defense in a deal like this. That's why we have police decoys pretending to be drunk with money falling out of their pockets waiting for someone to come along and grab it. NYPD and SFPD both do this. Some people think this a little unfair, putting a robbery charge on someone where the police manufactured the crime. Not the crime, the opportunity, the DA argues, and the higher courts agree.

The following is more on the subject of the gov't manufacturing crime, er, opportunity, for those whose boredom threshold is lower than mine for this sort of stuff.

I had a client in Federal court, a postal worker whose adult son was a crackhead. Gov't agents went around to the ghetto with a fistful of Twenty Dollar bills, offering to buy stolen T-checks. They were in the business of stamping out theft of T-checks from mailboxes.

Crackhead begs and persuades clean, hardworking mom to grab some T-checks from the mail so he can sell them to the guy with the Twenties. No one will ever know the difference, is the pitch. That's how mom lost her job and got arrested and prosecuted to boot.

Seemed a little backwards to me, the gov't spreading temptation to see who they can rope in, but the law allows the spreading of fertilizer to see what grows.

Another time a "G-man" (somehow it seemed nobler on the radio in the 'Forties) goes into a market offering to sell gov't issue food stamps at half off. Redeemable at face value. Double your money on the turn-around. Two managers decide this is a good idea and they go for it. Neither had ever been arrested for anything before this.

After the bust, one had a heart attack, and the other was so ashamed of himself he cried on my desk during every office visit. Had a wife and kids in high school. Thought he was going to be deported, as he'd never taken out citizenship despite twenty years here.

Why was the store targeted? It was in an area with a lot of poor people who relied on food stamps. This store appeared on the gov't computer printout as one that redeemed a lot of food stamps. So they decided to check it out.

Sorry for the length. One thing leads to another, the law being a "seamless web" 'n all that.

-rs



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