Another Manitoba Judge has joined the list of recent contributors to the ridiculously soft Canadian Justice experience.
Provincial Court Judge Mary Kate Harvie, a former defense attorney, joined fellow Judges Colleen Suche and John Menzies in their apparent quest to undermine Parliament and the safety and security of our law-abiding citizens.
Suche & Menzies joined the elitist club after they disregarded mandatory minimum sentences for offenders who were convicted of serious firearm offences.
Harvie joined the club after she made a ruling that an habitual serial property offender could argue for “enhanced credit” for a part of the eighteen (18) months he’s spent in pre-trial custody. Her ruling undermines Federal Legislation that abolished the discretionary practise of giving criminal offenders generous credit for pre-trial custody.
Under the new law offenders are to receive 1-1 credit for pretrial custody but may receive 1.5 – 1 credit if some form of exceptional circumstances are present.
Do some form of exceptional circumstances exist in this case?
The case involves an habitual serial property offender named Gordon Kovich (23) who plead guilty to fifteen (15) break & enter offences where property in the neighborhood of $100,000 was stolen.
In her ruling Harvie suggests the Federal Law is a serious affront to convicted offenders, “Fundamental right to life, liberty and security of the person.”
For those of you who may not be aware, the controversial application of the 2-1 pre-trial credit was killed by the Conservative Government in February 2010 when the Truth in Sentencing Act or Bill C-25, came into effect. Prior to the law coming into effect, some Judges applied as much as 3-1 credit for some offenders.
The liberal application of pre-trial credit had serious implications for the Justice System. Many offenders who were denied bail simply languished in the Provincial Remand Center racking up pre-trial credit taking advantage of an extremely flawed Justice System. Remand populations were bloating and the back log of cases proved to put increasing pressure on a Court system that was already overburdened.
The 2-1 discounts on Justice drew outrage from the Police and Public when several of the thirty-five (35) Manitoba Warrior gang members arrested during “Operation Northern Snow,” (1988) simply walked out of jail after doing two (2) years of dead time. The four (4) year sentences they received were essentially de-boned when the Courts credited the gangsters with the generous 2-1 pre-trial credit.
The Justice System had become a sad joke and something had to be done to restore some semblance of respect for the administration of Justice. The Truth in Sentencing Act was supposed to be the cure that would ensure our Justice System regained some of that lost respect.
Not according to Judge Mary Kate Harvie.
Judge Harvie suggests the new law creates “gross disproportionality” between individual offenders at sentencing because “those denied bail” can spend significantly more time in jail than others…..and that’s contrary to fundamental justice, or so she writes in her twenty-four page decision.
Does any of this make sense?
“Those denied bail,” lose their liberty for any number of reasons that all fall back on their own criminal behaviour.
As a Sergeant in charge of Uniform Operations it was my duty to review each arrest and make a determination regarding a suspects release or detention. Bail is denied for the following reasons;
- To protect the victim (s) of crime
- To protect the Public
- To prevent a continuation of the crime or the commission of another offence
- To ensure court attendance
Other factors include;
- The seriousness of the offence (s)
- The strength of the case against the offender
- The offenders criminal record
- Is the offender currently on charge for another crime
- Does the offender have a fixed address
- Does the offender have a record for failing to appear in Court or failing to follow conditions of release, bail or probation
- Did the offender threaten to kill a victim or witness or obstruct justice by intimidating witnesses
- Is the offender likely to receive a lengthy period of incarceration for the crime
Yet despite the fact offenders are denied bail because of reasons directly related to their own criminal behaviour, Judge Harvie believes the law is sacrificing the right to “life, liberty and security of the person,” of unrepentant repeat offenders like Kovich.
Even more disturbing is the fact Judge Harvie, and others like her, are willing to champion the “rights” of criminals who have been denied bail. The offenders in this select class are denied bail primarily because of their continuous criminal record. A criminal record is an accumulation of all historical convictions registered against an individual. A criminal record is a history lesson. Like any record, certain assumptions can and should be made regarding past criminal behaviour. If you read the “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Psychology,” (2003) you would learn, “When it comes to human beings, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.”
During my career as a criminal investigator I often conducted informal polls with the serial property offenders I encountered. Every time I interrogated a serial property offender I would ask them questions regarding their arrest to offence ratio. After interviewing dozens of these dedicated criminals I concluded most prolific serial property offenders suffer arrest in only 1 out of every 50 crimes they commit.
Judges like Mary Kate Harvie should be alert to this kind of institutional knowledge when they deliberate on sentencing decisions for serial property offenders. Rather than worrying about “gross disproportionality,” Judge Harvie should be targeting committed criminals like Kovich for greater punishment.
In a balanced Justice system, Judges like Harvie would be more focused on the rights of the property owners victimized by Kovichs’ crimes. Do business owners not have a fundamental right to, “life, liberty and security of the person.” How about the right to run a business without having shit rats like Kovich breaking into their property and stealing thousands of dollars of their merchandise.
Judge Harvie clearly fails to recognize the implications of her participation in the revolving doors of Justice. Habitual serial offenders like Kovich place a tremendous strain on over stretched Police resources as patrol unit after patrol unit responds to the trail of destruction left in the aftermath of their crime sprees. Offenders like Kovich are a big part of the disease that infects our City. He is one of the elite, committed criminals who occupies a place in the top 5% of offenders who perpetrate the vast majority of crime in Winnipeg. His criminal record is long, continuous and unenviable.
The Crown, recognizing these factors, is seeking a sentence of seven (7) years incarceration. The Defense, of course, is seeking a grossly disproportionate sentence of four (4) years with a further reduction of twenty-six (26) months for time served and enhanced credit.
While Gordon Kovich may be an extraordinarily prolific serial offender, his case certainly fails to meet any threshold that would place it in the “exceptional” circumstance category.
Unfortunately, Judge Harvie has opened that door for Kovich and many other offenders like him.
Much like Justice Suche & Menzies, it appears as though Judge Harvie has confused her role on the bench with that of defense lawyer and champion for offender rights.
It’s all just another unfortunate kick in the groin for Justice in Manitoba.