Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yes, we should be ashamed of ourselves 

I have been waiting to blog on the Milgaard Inquiry until it was a little clearer what direction the inquiry was taking.
Was it going to pin down some responsibility for sending an innocent 17-year-old kid to jail for 23 years for the rape-murder of nurse Gail Miller. Or was it just going to whitewash all the good old boys (police and prosecutors) involved -- several of whom, it appears, cannot actually remember much if anything all now about one of Saskatoon's biggest murder cases ever -- oh, sure, guys!
There were some bad signs early on -- I don't have the details at my fingertips anymore, but last spring a couple of the lawyers started flinging around comments to the effect that, really, David Milgaard actually could have killed Miller after all. And I thought, what the heck is going on here? -- this is supposed to be an inquiry into a conviction which has already been proven to be wrongful, where another man has already been proven guilty. Its not supposed to become a forum for inventing new fantasies about imaginary evidence.
Finally Judge MacCallum put a stop to this kind of speculative and suggestive questionning and the inquiry got back on track. But it left me concerned that this inquiry risked letting the lawyers try to exonerate their clients by demonizing Milgaard.
Now, once again, I am starting to wonder.
Milgaard, quite justifiably, doesn't want to testify at the inquiry. He says the prospect of testifying makes him sick.
And I can understand it -- he was victimized by the Saskatchewan justice system once before. So now, does he really have to sit in that witness chair again? Once more at the mercy of bunch of lawyers, who will try once again to victimize him, to sneer at him and trip him up with trick questions and make him look like such a sneaky, unstable, unlikeable liar that of course anyone would have thought he was guilty -- they couldn't help themselves because you just looked so guilty and anyway you were just such an asshole , weren't you, MISTER Milgaard?
Well, the judge now is saying that Milgaard may have to testify if he wants his lawyer to continue to be able to question the other witnesses at the inquiry. Yet the evidence so far has been that it was not Milgaard's personality nor actions which contributed to his conviction -- rather, his so-called friends, dumb and dumber and dumberer, helped over-eager police put together a very loose, circumstantial case, and everyone happily rushed to judgement, so glad to get such a monster off the street that it took Joyce Milgaard two decades to make a dent in the public's perception of his guilt.
This story says that Milgaard's mother "told reporters she felt 'intimidated' by [Judge] MacCallum and thought 'Canadians would be ashamed' with the way her son is being forced to testify."
Well, here's one Canadian who is ashamed.

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