I often ask why Henry Morgentaler isn’t in jail today for the murder of thousands of unborn babies. He had been convicted of performing illegal abortions and jailed for the same offences in Quebec, why not Ontario? Eighteen Ontario pro-lifers would not be on trial today if justice had been served and Morgentaler had been convicted.
I feel that our problems would be safely behind us today if our present-day jury system could return to its intended roots.
Can you imagine if a fair-minded person (like myself) had been picked for the Morgentaler case and ended up as foreman on a solidly pro-life jury? My fellow jurors and I would no doubt have felt that 25 years before Morgentaler saw any sunshine would have been an eminently fair sentence. It would be what used to be called a “stacked jury.” The pro-abort press would have screamed: Unfair! Undemocratic! Unjust!
But that’s what happened – only in reverse. In 1984, pro-lifers were eliminated from the jury through a screening process that got rid of the Mom and Pop types and anybody with more than two kids who bathed regularly. The trial was over before it began with not a squeak from the media – not a squeak. In fact they ran around saying Morgentaler was found innocent by his peers.
Assuming that a certain percentage of Canadians are pro-life, why were they denied the opportunity of serving on this jury? Are pro-lifers to be denied jury duty because they hold strong opinions on these issues? Are pro-lifers to be dismissed as bigots while someone who is intellectually in bed with Morgentaler gets to serve on the jury pretending that he can view the case “objectively”? Are people who are against murder not allowed to sit on murder cases?
Trial by peers
The object of a trial by jury is that twelve of your peers decide if you have broken the law. Most people charged with a crime favour this route. However, the arrangement falls apart when lawyers start selecting the jury. Suddenly, certain people – pro-lifers – are no longer suitable for duty.
The greatest advantage goes to the Crown. They alone have a list of all potential jurors. They alone can run a background check on these potential jurors and eliminate the ones the crown prosecutors don’t want to face. How naïve this system is. How can anybody determine a juror’s suitability. Some will lie to get on a jury and some will lie to avoid it.
Usually defence lawyers are limited to queries about whether jurors have formed views about the case based on anything they have read or heard through the media. What are they looking for? A group of ill-informed people who don’t read newspapers or watch the news? It does not seem to me that justice is being served; it seems more like jury-rigging.
In the summer of 1991, riots erupted in the black/Jewish neighbourhood of Crown Heights, in New York City. A young Hasidic student was surrounded by a group of blacks and stabbed repeatedly. Lemrick Nelson was found with the alleged murder weapon and supposedly confessed to the assault. Before he died, the victim identified Nelson as his assailant.
But, when Nelson came to trial the following summer, he was acquitted by an all-black Brooklyn jury who later joined him in a victory celebration. Where were the Jews on the jury? Why wasn’t the case heard somewhere else? Is that the kind of impartial jury system this country is looking for? Justice is often portrayed as a blindfolded woman with a scroll in one hand and a scale in the other. She is supposed to be colour-blind and impartial; she’s not supposed to be stupid. If jurors are not picked at random – where is the justice system heading?
If, in 1984, Morgentaler’s jury had not been cleansed of all pro-lifers, do you honestly think that he would have ever have gotten the green light to carry on killing the unborn? No way.
We live in a perverse generation and our judiciary has served us poorly. We should get rid of the logo that hangs over the judge’s bench: DIEU ET MON DROIT (God and my Right). It’s an anachronism. As far as the Canadian Supreme Court is concerned, “Thou shalt not kill” has joined the Edsel.