A recent Vancouver Sun article reported that a man accused of drug trafficking had his case thrown out of court because the trial judge ruled that the accused right "to be tried within a reasonable time" had been breached.
The Sun also reported that BC's chief provincial judge and the president of the BC chiefs of police are becomingly increasingly frustrated by an overburdened judiciary, and that one solution "may be to encourage alternative mechanism in which mediators would try to bring offenders and victims together outside of court".
Bringing victims and offenders together with the assistance of a mediator (called "victim-offender reconciliation programs" or "VORPs") are just one of several alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") options that have caught the attention of the provincial government in the last ten to 15 years. read more »
Published in Vancouver Sun (March 10, 1997)
Move over Law and Order. One of the most fascinating and educational ways to spend a free afternoon is observing a trial at the Vancouver courthouse.
Recently, I sat in on a high-profile trial that involved teenagers, murder, gangs and prostitution. The first day I was there, three young witnesses testified, each bringing a different demeanour to the stand: one, defiance and flipness; the second, tears and a barely audible voice; the third, maturity and poise despite having to implicate a friend.
I sat entranced as the youths recounted the circumstances of their daily lives, lives much different than mine had been at their age. I found myself smiling along with one witness when a lawyer, showing his age, asked the streetwise teen if he and his friends played gin rummy or canasta afterschool.
Periodically, I found myself studying the jury as they studied the accused. It was clear they understood the heavy weight of their responsibility. read more »