Wednesday, February 27, 2008




Molly has blogged previously on the case of Robert Latimer, convicted in the October 1993 mercy killing of his severely disabled daughter Tracy Latimer(see our archives for Dec. 7, 2007 and Jan. 26, 2008). His "crime" was that he wished to spare her further pain. Despite the recommendation of the jury in the case that he be granted parole after only a year in jail he was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 10 years. He was the only person in canada to ever serve time for a mercy killing. While he is not eligible for full parole for another 3 years he was eligible to apply for "day parole". Last December the National Parole Board refused his application, mainly because he didn't grovel and engage in psychobabble at his hearing- like every person who has full intent to commit the same crimes again always does- psychobabble is the present language of authority and you can get away with murder if you speak their language. Mr. Latimer still fully believes that what he did what the right thing. On appeal, however, the Appeal Division of the National Parole Board found today that the Board that heard Mr. Latimer's case erred because it was obvious that their main mandate, to ascertain whether an inmate will re-offend, was not the basis of their decision. As most people familiar with the case know Latimer has pretty well a zero chance of ever doing the same thing again. The decision to not grant Latimer day parole offended a large segment of the Canadian population, used as they are to seeing actual vicious killers, ones that have every likelihood of re-offending on release, serve far less time than Latimer already has. The only people who seem disappointed on Mr. Latimer's release are a small number of unelected "representatives of the disabled" who make their living from being such. Others who presumable might feel threatened by the decision, such as religious fundamentalists and mindworms (so-called "counsellors", and others who make their living by manipulation) have been relatively silent about the case. Read the full story of today's decision HERE (amongst many other sources).

Robert Latimer was given two conditions for his day parole. One is that he have no responsibility for any severely disabled person (quite reasonable). The other is that the Appeal Board made an attempt at saving face by "sentencing him to counselling" (yes the same now quite old joke that has become pretty well a public laughing stock. One can but imagine the room when the mindworm tries to bullshit Latimer. One can only hope that the close proximity of an honest man with the courage of his convictions will cause the manipulator to burst into flames like Dracula sprinkled with holy water.
Latimer has applied to serve his day parole in a half-way house in Ottawa. So-called "disabled advocates" are disturbed by this fact because it is likely that he will spend his time productively in lobbying efforts on the subject of euthanasia.
For more on the case see the Robert Latimer website and especially the online forum Justice in Canada (for the latest news and comment).


zeppo said...

How this gets called a mercy killing is beyond me. He murdered his daughter, his child. Tracy had not made a request to be killed. There are many people with cerebral palsy who are quite happy to be able to enjoy their lives. Tracy never had the chance.

Individual liberties do not cease to exist because of a poll or a newspaper article. Tracy had a right to life intrinsic to herself: her father had no right to take it away.

mollymew said...

You mostly make these claims on philsophical grounds. That's quite fine. as to the actual case of Tracy herself...
TWO juries heard the case and recommended that latimer be sentenced to minimal time ! When somebody questions me about a court case and my opinion I often duck the question by saying, "I wasn't on the jury". These 24 people were presented with ALL the facts, and they made their recommendation in light of these. If they had not been kept in deliberate ignorance about the legal fact of "jury supremacy" they would undoubtedly have elected to acquit.
The actual facts of Tracy's case are very well presented on the references that I gave in this blog and previous ones. Argueing from the case of a "high functioning" sufferer of cerebral palsy to the case of Tracy Latimer WITH MULTIPLE MEDICAL PROBLEMS AND UNREMNITTING PAIN is NOT justified. The "slippery slope" arguement works both ways.
As an interesting addendum Molly was wrong when she said that religious fundamentalists had been silent. Michael Coren weighed in today in the pages of the National Post with HIS view of the decision, justified by a slew of lies. No doubt such delusions are common in the circles that Corn calls his own, but, once more, Coren was not on the jury. It is a true tribute to human gullibility that such lies will continue to be propagated.

zeppo said...

There is no such thing in law as jury supremacy. The statute prescribes a mandatory minimum sentence: the jury's suggestion had no legal relevance. The jury has to decide whether the prosecution has proven all the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge decides the sentence where the law offers leeway, not the jury.

mollymew said...

As should be obvious from my comment the legal fact of "jury supremacy" doesn't extend to the sentencing phase of a trial. It refers merely !!!! to the jury's role in determining guilt or innocence. It is a little known FACT of common law that the jury CAN ignore the judge's charge to themn and acquit even if the "facts" in the case would argue for conviction (or acquital- though THIS has ONLY been a precedent in politically motivated trials) if they feel that "higher moral principles" argue against the letter of the law. This inheritance from common law is VERY much hidden by the legal profession. Mention of it during the course of a trial is, in fact, grounds for a mistrial. It would take a VERY skilled lawyer to make a jury aware of their rights without tripping over the line.
The concept of "jury supremacy" has always been a contested point in law. In fact it was one of the points on which the American revolution was fought. In recent years in the USA attacks on this common law right of the ordinary person have been reversed by subsequent decisions.
Stop and think about it for a bit. The deliberations of a jury are considered "privileged". This means that they are beyond the power of the state to "discover". If a jury hands down a certain decision the state is in a bind because it cannot ask for disclosure of the reasons for the decision. The members of the jury are, in fact, under an obligation to NOT reveal their deliberations- EVEN TO AGENTS OF THE STATE.
THIS is the basis of "jury supremacy", and it is a valuable right that governments continually try to abrogate, not in the least by lieing about its existence.
Once more, "jury supremacy" only extends to the fact finding mission of the jury as to guilt or innocence. It does NOT extend to the sentencing phase of a trial. I repeat that if the members of the juries involved in the Latimer case had been acquainted with their REAL rights as citizens that they would have opted for acquital rather than throwing Latimer at the "mercy" of the judges.

zeppo said...

You said: TWO juries heard the case and recommended that latimer be sentenced to minimal time !

The jury voted unanimously to convict. I say the jury's sentencing recommendation is irrelevant because the statute offers no leeway. I am correct. Why did you mention this?

I think you are mixing jurisdictions here. In the U.S. jurors can talk to anyone about what happened: in Canada they cannot. In the U.S. jury acquittals cannot be overturned: in Canada they can be (although it is rare).

You can't lie to the Supreme Court about the existence of a right. The court decides whether the right exists or not (common law, statutory or constitutional). If the Supreme Court decides the right does not exist (and declares a mistrial because a jury was wrongly instructed by defense counsel that the right exists) then the Supreme Court is legally right - always - by definition. The Supreme Court has absolute finality in deciding what the law says. Absolute. Period.

mollymew said...

OF COURSE I referred to Canadian law. Mr, Latimer WAS convicted in CANADA. I AM a Canadian. So are YOU, resident in the province of Ontario. "Jury supremacy" is, however, just as much a FACT in the USA as it is here in Canada, thgough the jury has less protection (or more rights if you will) in the USA.
I repeat for the THIRD TIME (including the original post) that the concept of "jury supremacy" is an established right under common law whereby the jury can ignore the judge's charge to them and find for guilt or innocence as they will. They DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE ANY JUSTIFICATION FOR THEIR DECISIONS. As a matter of fact the state is prohibited from interrogating them under Canadian law. THIS is "jury supremacy" , and how it might apply in the Latimer case has been VERY OBVIOUSLY laid out in both the original post and in my replies.
You are VERY obviously umnaware of this point of law. It is, of course, a right of the ordinary citizen that is VERY CAREFULLY hidden in any legal proceeding, as I have said and described before.
Its application in the Latimer case would have been as I said above. Hey, THIS is an ANARCHIST BLOG. As such it attempts to expand and, at least, conserve the field that is available for justice, liberty and freedom. Our common law heritage contains MANY good things that SHOULD be conserved as they are the basis of whatever liberty we have today. The FACT of "jury supremacy" is one such freedom.
PLEASE DON'T argue about how ANY decision of a lower court can be overturned by a higher court. THAT is true but irrelvant.Please ALSO don't try to muddy the point with the obviuous and irrelevant fact that sentencing is seperate from the fact finding roll of the jury. Quite frankly EVERYTHING you say is TOTALLY irrelevant to the legal fact of "jury supremacy" as I described in the original post-let alone my replies.
How about you return to your original objections to Latimer's parole because !!!! it makes a hell of a lot more sense than your attempts to argue law where you are ignorant ????? The more you speak on this subject the more you define yourself as a "manipulator". Pull back and reconsider.

mollymew said...

Bye the way,
If you are EVER stuck with "jury duty" as per the request of the state, and you want to get off from the obligation, MERELY mention the fact that you know about "jury supremacy". You are off the list right quick.The state REALLY hates people who know about this right.

zeppo said...

Ok, let me say this one last time - then I will leave you alone with whatever belief it is that you choose to hold.

When it comes to common law the Supreme Court of Canada has absolute finality as to what the law says because, by definition, common law is established by court ruling, not statutes or directly in the constitution. Saying there is a common law right without being able to cite a court-decided precedent defining that right is living in a state of logical (and legal) sin.
Where is the legal precedent establishing this common law right of jury supremacy?

You said: I repeat for the THIRD TIME (including the original post) that the concept of "jury supremacy" is an established right under common law whereby the jury can ignore the judge's charge to them and find for guilt or innocence as they will.

I need citations from authoritative legal sources to accept your statements. You can claim that the moon is made of green cheese three times but the third claim is no more valid than the first.

If what you are saying is that the jury could decide to acquit despite the law and the judges instructions then I guess they could do that. It would be an abrogation of their duty to the law but, given that in Canada they may not be questioned about their deliberations, they may very well get away without being held accountable. If the decision seemed too far from reason, however, a higher court (or even in extremely rare cases the trial judge) could declare a mistrial or overturn the verdict.

What I say would be quite relevant to Mr. Latimer because if the jury voted to acquit but a higher court overturned the acquittal and entered a conviction against Mr. Latimer then Mr. Latimer would go to prison, whether the jury thought he should go or not.

By the way, although jury room deliberations are very strongly protected, they are not perfectly protected. If there is obstruction of justice, a judge can order jurors to testify as to the deliberations. There is only one precedent in Canadian law but that is all that is needed to make my point. See Gillian Guess.

mollymew said...

Zeppo writes,
"If what you are saying is that the jury could decide to acquit despite the law and thge judges instructions I guess they could do that."

Finally, finally, finally, finally you have got the point. If you want (maybe ? to be enlightened you would do well to look up jury supremacy under its more common synonym "jury nullification". If you want here is a starter for you at Wikipedia: . There you will find all the precedents your little heart may desire, dating back to 1554 in the trial of Sir Nicolas Throckmorton, through the prosecution of William Penn for preaching a Quaker sermon all the way up to Canada's most famous case, Regina vs Morgentaler (1988) and as recent as a Supreme Court decision in 2006 in Regina vs Kreiger.

Despite your misconception that "common law" is ONLY derived from court decisions it is a fact that simple tradition is also a source of such law. Despite the fact that jury supremacy/nullification IS supported by judicial precedent (see the Wikipedia article)its REAL force derives more from custom than from any ruling of the Supreme Court.

Some believe that up to 5% of jury decisions are actually examples of jury supremacy/nullification. It is one of the most prominant methods whereby bad laws are changed. A Canadian website that tries to educate citizens about this right is Juror.Ca ( There are many other examples

Here in Canada where we don't have protection against "double jeapardy" the prosecution may indeed appeal an acquital to a higher court, but this doesn't invalidate the REAL existing power of juries to disregard the law if they feel the law is unjust.

But all this is the fodder for another article on this subject.

zeppo said...

I said: If what you are saying is that the jury could decide to acquit despite the law and the judge's instructions then I guess they could do that. It would be an abrogation of their duty to the law but, given that in Canada they may not be questioned about their deliberations, they may very well get away without being held accountable.

mollymew said: "Finally, finally, finally, finally you have got the point. If you want (maybe ? to be enlightened you would do well to look up jury supremacy under its more common synonym "jury nullification".

First of all, jury nullification has been a well-known concept for a long time. It is not a right: it is a deception - the jury chooses to lie (a lie of omission). As I said the jury could choose to render a verdict despite the judge's instructions and the law and possibly get away with it. This is no different than people who commit perjury to obtain a favourable verdict and are not caught.

FYI by the same reasoning that you present the jury could reach a verdict by flipping a coin or playing rock paper scissors.

A right in law is something you can honestly exercise in full view of the court. Jury nullification is not a right.

mollymew said...

Wow !!!!
I thought you wern't coming back, like a bad case of tertiary syphilis.
This discussion has mercifully dropped down into the archives section. When I get around to posting an article on the RIGHT of jury nullification in common law you are more than welcome to continue DESPERATELY trying to say that an ESTABLISHED right that exists BY FACT is not a right just because you don't like it.
I call Galileo to the witness stand here. If the universe does not revolve around the Earth then it cannot revolve around you and your likes and dislikes either because you are rsident on Earth.
At the beginning of this exchange I opined that you were WILLFULLY OBTUSE. Know I know that for sure. I've bothered to ask a few people if they were aware of their right, should they serve on a jury, to acquit DESPITE the evidence and the law. That knowledge is more common than I thought. If you want to educate YOURSELF I gave the references that you would need, but you obviously have NO interest in searching down the precedents you asked for.
You wish to remain in a state of ignorance. That sort of desire is common enough. Reactionaries of BOTH the left and right are disturbed by the existence of such a right as "jury nullification" because it goes against their vision of a "properly directed" society. The Wikipedia article gives a more than sufficient history of how this customary right came to be established, and their are numerous references as to how it is a safeguard against tyranny.
You, by the way, have a REALLY weird definition of "rights". In actual fact well over 99.999% of the rights we have and exercise have nothing whatsoever to do with a courtroom.
Finally, "lies of omission"...The RIGHT of jury nullification was actually raised by the defense in one of the appeals that Latimer's attornies filed. There was NO question that such a right exists. What was in dispute was whether the judge was OBLIGED to inform the jury of their rights. It was determined that "HE COULD LIE BY OMISSION" and was actually under an obligation to do so. Your bringing up this phrase in your so-called argument is more than slightly ironic and amusing.
Neither the world nor myself care whether you think jury supremacy/nullification is a "bad thing". I personally think it is a great thing. But no matter how much you hate it, you can't argue from your hatred that it doesn't exist. It does. A fact is a fact. From now on bother to look things up for yourself before spouting off. You demanded "precedents". I gave them, and then you revert back to trying to twist words- in a way that is OBVIOUSLY nothing more than argueing from your emotions.
I'm sure you'll be back and maybe even in the planned post on this right in general, and I'm sure you will continue to argue that facts don't exist because you hate them.

zeppo said...

like a bad case of tertiary syphilis
I wouldn't know about this.

mollymew said: The RIGHT of jury nullification was actually raised by the defense in one of the appeals that Latimer's attornies filed. There was NO question that such a right exists.

The SCC said in R v Latimer: An accused is entitled to a fair trial, including the presumption of
innocence, the duty of the Crown to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and the
ability to make full answer and defence. The accused is not entitled to a trial that
increases the possibility of jury nullification.

It also said: The appellant’s second argument is a broad one, that the accused person
has some right to jury nullification. How could there be any such “right”?

It said again:The appellant submits that there is a jury power to nullify, and it would be unconstitutional
to undermine that power. We reject that proposition.

Oh, and it said again: Guarding against jury nullification is a desirable and legitimate exercise for a trial judge; in fact a judge is required to take steps to ensure that the jury will apply the law properly.

These statements exclude any >right< of jury nullification. What this ruling, and other rulings referenced in the Wikipedia article, says is that a jury can nullify, but only because the law precludes examining the jury's deliberation. This means what I said: The jury abrogates its duty to the law and its oath when it nullifies. It is not a right and it is not a good thing.

mollymew give it up and read the rulings, not the wikipedia article(s). Wikipedia is okay for basic facts (i.e. Joe shot Fred) when it comes to the law but it does not do a good job of interpreting court rulings.

Finally, in R v Morgentaler the SCC said: Per Curiam: In a trial before judge and jury, the judge's role is to state the law and the jury's role is to apply that law to the facts of the case. To encourage a jury to ignore a law it does not like could not only lead to gross inequities but could also irresponsibly disturb the balance of the criminal law system. It was quite simply wrong to say to the jury that if they did not like the law they need not enforce it. Such practice, if commonly adopted, would undermine and place at risk the whole jury

The SCC said this in response to the defendant's argument that he had the right to instruct the jury that it could ignore the law and the judge's instructions (i.e. instruct the jury it could nullify)

mollymew the right of jury nullification does not exist - period. The SCC said so. Go read the rulings.

mollymew said...

Jesus H. Christ, you just won't give up will you ? Every citation you present (and I'm glad you actually have bothered to look at them rather than spounting off) says NOTHING but what I orginally said. The Latimer precidents MERELY said that the Judge has BOTH a right and duty TO LIE-as I said. They do NOT contradict the concept of "jury supremacy" as established by the "de facto" aspect of custom (a concept you were obviously unaware of when you began this little back and forth when you were under the illusion that common law is established ONLY bh precident). I am GLAD that you are beginning to educate yourself. It is a step forward.
But you should not just click on "de facto" in the Wikpedia article(to vainly attempt to remind you of what a FACT is) but also examine the most recent decision of the SCC (as you call it) ie Regina vs Krieger. The following is a quote from that decision...

"The trial judge deprived the accused of his constitutional right to a trial by jury when he directed the jury to find the accused guilty as charged. The trial judge’s direction was not a “slip of the tongue” to be evaluated in the context of the charge as a whole; nor is this a matter of assessing the impact of subtle language susceptible to different interpretations. His purpose and words were clear. In effect, the trial judge reduced the jury’s role to a ceremonial one: He ordered the conviction and left to the jury, as a matter of form but not of substance, its delivery in open court. Absent a guilty plea, the verdict must be that of the jury, not the judge — unless the judge finds the evidence insufficient and directs a verdict of acquittal on that ground. Even if the evidence is overwhelming, this does not justify a directed verdict of guilty. [6] [8] [18] "

In other words the judge CANNOT direct the jury. Jury supremacy is a RIGHT that cannot be abrogated by judicial direction. This, of course, is the LATEST precident. Maybe there will be other in the next year.

Do you possibly get it ??? As I have said over and over the RIGHT of the jury to render the verdict it wishes in accordance with "natural justice" rather than the "letter of the law" is a hard-fought-for RIGHT that has innumerable ACTUAL applications day by day in common law jurisdications. Please consult the percentages I quoted above. This RIGHT, which you hate, is one of the PRIMARY safeguards against tyranny (of both the left and right) that we have, and it is a RIGHT (and an obvious FACT see "de facto" because it is applied VERY frequently. You may HATE this right while I think it is an example of civilization as opposed to barbarism.
De facto means "from the fact". It is a FACT that juries apply their RIGHT to render a verdict according to natural justice rather than the letter of the law VERY FREQUENTLY. Regina vs Krieger involved a "drug case", one of the most frequent applications of this right, but there are many other examples.
Anywaysssss, I am sure that you will want to have the last word as you try (like a good commie denying Stalin's murders) to say that obvious facts don't exist because they are immoral in your view. Go ahead, but I urge you to save your artillery for the planned new post.

This is actually becoming an interesting discussion once you get beyond making moral pronouncements. Hope to see you in the new post where I am sure you will disagree with everything I say. By the way, I smell Roman Catholicism here. As an ex-Dogan I have found few people who would mutate "sins of omission" into "lies of omission" unless they were Catholics. I also smell a Dogan of somewhere near to my age as such cathecism ceased to be taught many years ago as the Church tried to find its p[lace in modernity. Not that what the Church taught was wrong. it's just that the Church today is, aside from its hierarchy, is far less Jesuitical than it was in years past. I may be wrong here. It may be possible that other religious traditions have methods of argument that approach those of Holy Mother Church. If this is the fact I apologize for my low estimate of your own religuous tradition in comparison with Catholicism and I will learn from the fact that people who have nothing to do with the Jesuits can be jesuitical. It will be a learning experience for me, though it will not fundamentally change my estimate of the intellectual capacity of some other churches.
In other words guy you have argued very well for an indefensible position, in a manner that I must applaud even if I had to push you to each level of evidence. You have gone way beyond the sophistication that I would expect from the average "limp leftist", and, as somebody who "endured" eight years of Jesuit education, I smell a certain training behind what you say.
Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe there are fundamentalist schools that can train somebody to argue against obvious facts in a coherant fashion, like a good Jesuit. It's just that I've never seen such a thing before. It would be nice to learn something new as I appraoch my 60s. You are definitely NOT a lawyer, just as I am not. All the better for you.
So...feel free to have the last word here as you seem to be obsessed by this matter. I salute you guy. Your last effort was far better than those previous. I'm sure I'll see you on the occasion of the planned post of this RIGHT in general. You are still, however, wrong, wrong,wrong BECAUSE you cannot argue against FACTS with moral pronouncements, even if you can cite "precidents" where (as I said before) judges can "violate morality" by "lying by omission" and have a "duty" to so lie.

zeppo said...

Dogan or dogged; does it really matter? In any case all Krieger said was that a judge cannot direct a jury to convict; the ruling in no way supports jury nullification.

The idea you refuse to accept is that a judge's ruling is the >final< word on what the law is; there is no right whatsoever to nullify.

Werner said...

A judge's ruling is final by the rules that are accepted by the state ie. the people who gave the judge his job. The issue here is that ordinary folks the "great unwashed" are morally superior to the all the people who see themselves as morally superior. It is a little slice of anarchism seeking into the legal wasteland via the tradition of common law. OUR law IS better than YOUR law. Therefore the good guys will prevail. MR. Judge needs to find himself a real job.