Ask the Hammer

Our Supreme Court made new law recently by factoring into criminal sentencing vigilante justice when it is rained down on an alleged perpetrator.

The Supreme Court concluded that the beating and mutilation Richard Suter received, months after killing a 2 year old boy by crashing his car into a restaurant patio, merits reducing his sentence to the 10 months already served, from the 26 months imposed by the Alberta Appeal Court (which overturned the initial sentence of 4 months!).

Vigilantes struck twice prior to Suter’s pleading guilty and incarceration.

First, Suter was pulled from his SUV and beaten. Later he was abducted and had his thumb cut off.

The High Court found that the Goldilocks sentences previously imposed (4 + 26 months) were both wrong. The Trial Judge for putting too much stock in Suter’s claim that he wasn’t drunk (3 drinks in 4 hours) while, on Appeal, for considering past alcohol problems and the argument with his wife that led to his being impaired.

Bad legal advice (refusing the breathalyser) also contributed to reducing the sentence to 10 months.

The argument that Suter was “impaired by distraction” was found to be too novel and too confusing concluded The Supremes.

Aren’t all legal arguments, by definition, new at some point?  Seems this should not be a reason to set any new theory aside. DNA was considered untested and therefore inconclusive at the get go. Now, comparing DNA on various data bases, even non criminal ones (think Ancestry) led to apprehending a serial killer in California.

In what I consider to be an ironic twist, the kidnapper, who abducted Suter, received 12 years in jail. Seems skewed. Killing a toddler – 10 months. Abducting the killer – 12 years. Justice – Priceless?

Laws, Laws, everywhere Laws

(Blockin’ out logic and breakin’ our minds)

Who remembers the words to that 1971 Five Man Electrical band song “Signs”?

Never were the words truer than they are at present, but the lyrics ring just as true if the title and the refrain read “Laws, Laws, everywhere a Law… Do this, don’t do that, can’t you (follow the Law?)”

It seems that daily we are inundated by lawmakers everywhere who come up with new “and improved” legislation (like Tide detergent) designed, as Archie Bunker would have said, to stifle us. I for one am sick of it.

As a result, and every so often, I have reason to understand more and more those disgruntled, disenfranchised, militant groups who have just had it with their Governments and the lawmakers who embody it.

In no particular order here are some laws that may tip the scales in favour of anarchy.

1: Coffee Kills?

Out of California (of course) a Judge made a preliminary ruling that coffee sellers should have to post warnings about the brews served, as an ingredient in your cups has been “linked” to cancer. The ingredient – which evolves through the roasting process is – acrylamide.

Now some of you may remember the horrible drug of the 50s/60s known as Thalidomide, so any time I hear the word “mide” I am predisposed to be on guard.

However – coffee?! As I write, sipping a cup, I wonder how many Supreme Court Judges love/need their cup of Joe to get going and if, as expected, Starbucks et al., will begin the appeal process. This ruling affects thousands upon thousands of other establishments (just in Los Angeles) from high-end restaurants to local gas stations like 7-Eleven. The case has already taken 8 years to get to this stage, based on the California Sale Drinking Water and Tax Enforcement Act of 1986.

So keep your eyes open for future developments on this one, because unlike Vegas, what happens in California often has a habit of spreading eastward and upward to us (but take heart – butter for a time was bad for us too – now not so much).

PS:  That same “ingredient” is also found in bread and cookies, cereal, canned black olives, crackers and some of my favs – toast and potato chips. Might as well just give up eating – but that will kill you too!

Me. Hammerschmid has practiced Family Law since 1982; Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates; founding & current member of Family Law Association of Quebec (past Secretary for 28 years). Inquiries treated confidentially: 514-846-1013 or [email protected] © 2016 Linda Hammerschmid