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But advocates for the disabled thought otherwise and

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But advocates for the disabled thought otherwise, and DePalma (1997) notes that“handicapped people and the organizations representing them say that anything lessthan a stiff sentence would send a message that the lives of severely disabled peopleare worth less than the lives of everyone else.”Despite the fact that public opinion was overwhelmingly supportive of Latimer,he was charged with first-degree murder and was ultimately convicted ofsecond-degree murder, although that conviction was overturned by theSupreme Court of Canada because the prosecutor had engaged inmisconduct. A second trial also resulted in a conviction of second-degreemurder.The jury asked that Latimer’s sentence be mitigated, and a two-year sentence wasimposed (one year behind bars with the remainder served in community supervision)rather than the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal reinstated the mandatory sentence.Latimer appealed that decision and the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the10-year sentenceThe homicide occurred in 1993, and Latimer started serving his prison sentence in2001. He was only granted day parole in 2008 and full parole in 2010. Some peoplebelieve that Latimer was slow to be released because he did not express a properamount of remorse for his actions, and some considered him to be a threat to publicsafety.In a 2017 interview, Latimer said that “what I did was right, and thegovernment and the authorities can’t understand that. Or the fact that whatthey’ve done is wrong—they can’t understand that”It is said that “hard cases make bad laws,” or in other words, crimes that rarely occurand are the result of very unusual circumstances do not always fit neatly in theCriminal Code when it comes to questions of what punishments should be imposed.While we should not design laws around these rare acts, our criminal lawsshould also allow the exercise of discretion. Writing about the Latimer case,Roach observes that “the criminal law will lose legitimacy if there are toomany cases where there is a wide divergence from the public’s verdict andthose produced by state law.”By reviewing the Latimer case, we can see problems with the definitions of crime,punishment for an act considered by most of us to be an act of mercy, and thestruggles of one person against the power of the justice system for doing somethinghe considered the “right thing to do.”On the other hand, we also understand the position of people with disabilitieswho consider Latimer to be an unrepentant killer.SummaryMost of our knowledge about what occurs in Canadian courts comes from theentertainment media, as few of us spend time in courtrooms. This is both a goodthing and a bad thing.First, an hour’s exposure to a provincial or territorial court would reveal thatmost crime is minor and that most cases are handled in a relatively low-keymanner.

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Term
Fall
Professor
NoProfessor
Tags
The Bible, The Land, criminal law, CROWN, Robert Latimer, Specialized Courts

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