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The right to demonstrate is the sign of a healthy democracy

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As a Court Clerk in a criminal court, most cases just leave me totally indifferent. You could easily think I have lost my heart about such things a few years ago, incapable to feel anything now either for the defendants or their victims. True, I admit it. When you see it every day, the same sort of cases one after the other, you quickly become insensitive to it all. But not this time.

Even when they all cry their soul out, whether they are faking it or not. Beware of the crocodile tears, and then it seems, it is always just that, crocodile tears. If I can't feel the need to cry most of the time, then it must be fake all the time, I'm usually so emotional.

Might not be the case, but I am an overworked and underpaid civil servant. Don't ask me to feel anything when I just feel like shooting everyone around me for a start, starting with my managers, and find myself in the dock. The frontier between cleverness, passion, enthusiasm and committing a crime, even sometimes without knowing, is so damn thin, we're all criminals now.

And yet I must speak about a few cases lately that really got me to break down. It does not happen often, but it happened in two particular cases lately, and then a whole bunch of them. These cases all made headline news. Then I wasn't so proud of being a Court Clerk, even though I can easily hide behind the fact that I never convict anyone, I never sentence anyone, I'm just a tool of the justice system, the administrator of it all. I am nothing, and yet sometimes it seems I participate in some crimes, miscarriages of justice of some sort.

I remain professional at all times, never would I influence a Judge's decision, but yeah, sometimes I truly feel like telling them exactly what sort of sentence I have in mind. Many ushers and clerks can't control themselves, they tell the Judges right out what the sentences should be. Unfortunately they are the brainless ones who can't control themselves, I always disagree with the sentences they have in mind. For them it is always very simple, all defendants, guilty or not, deserve prison for life.

The more stupid people are, the more ruthless they are, the more dangerous they are. They would not even learn if they were to find themselves in the dock one day for similar offences, and did not get away with it with a lighter sentence. Such people cannot see the parallels, if such things were to happen to them or their children. If the death penalty still existed in some countries, many defendants would be hanged, without us ever being certain if they were guilty or not. Because let's face it, a Jury often convicts defendants on opinion alone, no matter how hard we could stress to them that real and tangible evidence is necessary. Unfortunately, for example, in cases of rapes, it is always the word of one against the other, and most often the accused goes to prison for over a decade without proof. It all depends on how convincing the witnesses are and bad character applications.

And sometimes the victims just try too hard. They've been coached too much and they easily get caught lying in all their schemes to reach a successful conviction. It is all the fault of the prosecution, they certainly do try hard, truth at this point does not matter much to them. And then, no matter if you are truly a victim or not, you can rest assure, being caught lying in Court will make you lose your case every single time.

Much better to be completely unprepared and lost, but not too lost. If you state in Court that you don't know what a penis is, well, you've just lost your case. I think everyone knows by now what a penis is. Unless you can prove somehow that you regressed so much into a deep personal bubble and forgot the world after such a traumatic event, that you don't even remember your own name. You better have a few doctors and psychiatric reports to back you up then. I'm being the devil's advocate here, and the more I go on the more I realise how important a role this is.

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The first case that truly affected me was an air hostess on some flight to somewhere in the world. The man was gay, in the gallery there were his long time partner, his sister, his father. All of them cried for the whole duration of the trial. The defendant was accused to have somehow grabbed the dick of a passenger in first class whilst buckling a security belt.

Me and the ushers used to laugh at the victim, that if one was to be so fat, ugly and old, and still able to find anyone interested enough in grabbing his dick, he should be flattered, not go to Court. It soon became apparent that the victim was an unstable monster with deep psychological problems, easy then to reach the conclusion that he imagined it all in such perverse ways that now he enjoys the attention of going to Court, because perhaps he had to wait five minutes to get his peanuts and that was unacceptable to him.

And it was a sensational case, it went all around the country in every newspaper, the defendant lost not only his reputation, his job and everything else, but at least I'm sure now he'll never lose the support of his family and his partner. Because they know the truth, that nothing happened. And the Jury saw through it all, not guilty in the end.

I just feel so awful, because in this case a not guilty verdict meant nothing, the damage was already done, many lives destroyed. Deep psychological trauma that will now last a lifetime. I would not be surprised if it ends with a suicide or two.

I'm still not sure if this air hostess did something or not, but just buckle a belt, or perhaps more. But at that point in the proceedings, seeing the consequences, I did not care much. This trial should have been abandoned somehow, but it was not because of an overzealous prosecution that will never let go once it has its teeth in some case, no matter what it is and the circumstances. It leads to the destruction of a whole society, as it often does, where defendants are punished and suffer a great deal before even reaching trial. Guilty before being proven innocent, is all you could ever expect, and it will never leave you alone for the rest of your life.

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Again today, a bunch of neighbours who have been fighting for some stupid thing, decided to no longer be witnesses in a case, just to ensure a peaceful relationship with their neighbours in years to come. In other words it was all spite and revenge for stupid little things, and they finally came to their senses on the day of the trial, understanding that none of this was necessary.

The prosecution went overboard to continue the case, issued four witness summons that will now become contempt of court, and those witnesses are likely now to experience prison for a few days. They will have a taste of how serious it all is. When the victims find themselves in prison. The prosecution never gives up, you can easily become a defendant yourself, if you pursue in your irrationality and spite.

The second case recently that disturbed me a lot more, wasn't that easy, because the defendant was definitely guilty, he admitted as much after the trial. We all knew he was, and yet, something was very wrong here. It was another one of these cases where the defendant is not really a criminal, he just did something stupid to gather the attention of his family and friends, like he did many times before in a long list of antecedents, all theft.

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Roland Michel Tremblay is an author. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Michel_Tremblay

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