Contempt Of Court- The Betrayal Of Justice In Canada

by Carsten Stroud
390 pages,
ISBN: 0771591969

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A Jungle Out There
by Jack Batten

CARSTEN STROUD has style. Big, handsome guy, resonant voice, lot of hair. He`s hung out with cops in Toronto and in New York City, and written books about the experience. Cops would welcome a guy like Stroud. Not some wimp journalist, not a whiny liberal. Stroud is a cop`s kind of guy. He`s right there. Stroud`s writing has style too. It`s the style that originates with Hemingway, takes a jog to the right, filters through a certain type of crime novelist, the Ed McBain type. The style is immediate, a little romanticsentimental but tough, gets its effect from detail, good texture. Stroud puts the reader up close, shoulder to shoulder with the writer and with everybody who lines up on the writer`s side. Anybody else is the enemy. The enemy in Contempt of Court includes Canada`s judicial system, psychiatrists who treat criminals, social workers, and June Callwood. The courts are the principal bad guys, in Stroud`s opinion, particularly the Supreme Court of Canada, and even more particularly that court`s Mr Justice Peter Cory, who, according to Stroud, has written a couple of really wrong-headed decisions. What Cory and most other people on the bench are guilty of is issuing mealy-mouthed judgements that give all the breaks to the criminals and none to the police. Consider, for example, drug traffickers. "We are most definitely not trying to crush the drug trade in Canada," Stroud writes. "As a matter of fact, the courts are doing everything they can to encourage the drug trade." This is a point of view familiar to anyone who has ever had a conversation with a police officer or read an editorial in the Toronto Sun. The difference is that Stroud advances the argument in a more entertaining fashion. That isn`t to say he is any more convincing than the cops or the Sun or that his loathing of the courts doesn`t involve him in twisted logic and curious conclusions. He gets very exercised, for example, over a decision of Peter Cory`s in a case concerning the extradition of an accused murderer to California, but Cory`s decision was a dissent, and the majority of the Supreme Court reached a conclusion that squares precisely with Stroud`s own position. And, speaking of curiosities, what are we to make of this passing sentence: ... the drug culture of the 1970s has left nothing more lasting than crystal therapy, Margaret Atwood books, a few poli-sci profs around the nation and the odd gathering of wet-brain New Age loopazoids on Galiano Island.... Margaret Atwood books!? It seems a heavy burden, putting it mildly, to lay on our courts, that all by themselves they`re coddling rapists and murderers, leaving them on the street, putting the rest of us at risk, encouraging crime. There might be one or two other factors at work in creating a climate for crime: a social system out of whack, racism, lapses in putting together a coherent way to educate children, crazy economics. Stroud apparently prefers to throw in his lot with the anti-court crowd. The courts are screwing us. It`s a jungle out there. Time for every law-abiding citizen to buy a gun. Stroud has bought his. He says so in Contempt of Court.

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