Judge Judith Elliott gets the message!
Crack dealing gang members running amok in the City of Winnipeg present an inordinate risk to public safety.
That realization came at the expense of Mad Cow gang member Terryl Izzard who was denied bail in Court on Tuesday. Izzard got himself collared in WPS Street Crimes Unit Project Recall, a proactive investigation into the illicit trafficking activities of the Mad Cow street gang. “I take no pleasure in denying bail to an (alleged) 18-year-old first offender, but I’m going to,” she said.
Even though Judge Elliott did the right thing, I struggle with the fact she appeared to lament over her decision. Judges don’t have to take “pleasure” in denying accused persons bail, it happens to be their job. Judges are expected to put public safety first and make these decisions without being influenced by their emotions. “Pleasure,” should never enter into the equation.
What seems to be lost on Judge Elliott is the fact that eighteen (18) year old drug dealing gang members are not “normal” teenaged kids worthy of her conflicted deliberations. These are hard-core committed criminals who deal poison to drug addicts, strong-arm sex trade workers, work crack lines and crack shacks, destroy neighbourhoods, carry firearms and participate in brazen daylight killings of innocent citizens like Nigel Dixon.
Dixon was gunned down in a hail of bullets by gangsters embroiled in a turf war a mere five (5) minute walk from the Provincial Court Room where Judge Sid Lerner recently released a seventeen (17) year Mad Cow gang member who was also busted in the Project. The youth had a serious criminal record, was on probation at the time of his arrest and was classified in a probation report as a “high risk to re-offend given his pro-criminal attitudes and peer associations.”
“This is a close one but I’m prepared to give him an opportunity to demonstrate he can comply with conditions of bail. Just by the skin of your teeth are you getting out,” Lerner said to the young offender.
In my respectful opinion, it wasn’t a close call at all, concern for public safety and the safety of the youthful offender himself should have clearly outweighed any concern Judge Lerner had for a committed gang member’s liberty. The Provincial Court should be much more concerned with providing a seventeen (17) year old drug trafficking gang member an intervention rather than struggle to justify the restoration of his freedom.
Herein lies one of the great pit falls of our Criminal Justice system, two (2) Judges, presented with similarly aggravating factors arrive at two vastly different conclusions.
One Judge errs on the side of public safety, the other takes an offender driven approach.
It occurs to me the Judiciary might benefit from a reality based discussion with front line members of the Street Crimes Unit & Organized Crime Prosecutors regarding the “real” danger violent criminal street gangs present to the citizens of Winnipeg. Maybe then we might see a more consistent approach from the bench.
After all, inconsistent Justice is no Justice at all.