Court Confusion

Today, I went down to court to file a Victim Impact Statement, and to try to determine if it was worth my while showing up tomorrow, the date of the bus driver’s court date. The result was utter confusion.

Normally, Victim Impact Statements are filed only in criminal cases. The bus driver has been charged under the Traffic Safety Act and is mandated to appear at the Provincial Traffic Court rather than Criminal Court. The lady I spoke to in traffic court clearly had never seen a victim impact statement before and was rather confused by my request to file it. Her supervisor also was unable to shed any light on the matter. She indicated that it would make no difference to the sentence as the penalties had already been set out. She asked what I hoped to accomplish and I stated that the bus driver killed my wife and I wanted to file a Victim Impact Statement. She clearly figured that I was not going to leave the court until they accepted my statement, so she (very reluctantly) did, and added it to the file.

I have little faith that the statement will ever actually be read into the record (or presented to the bus driver) if he is indeed found guilty. Section 3 of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act implies (to me) that they must accept and use the statement, but given the total confusion, I suspect it will conveniently be lost.

After much consultation with friends (thanks, D and J) and with information given to me by the court employee, I will not be attending court tomorrow. If there’s a trial, it almost certainly will not happen then. If he does plead guilty tomorrow, it would be in front of a Justice of the Peace, not in a real courtroom.

At this time, I do not want to publish the statement I wrote. However, I will point out that I had exactly two things I wanted to say when writing the statement:

  1. Ailish was awesome; and
  2. I really miss her.
It’s not quite what you are meant to say in a Victim Impact Statement, but it is all that really matters.
Christopher Thompson
August 30th, 2011 5:17 PM

As I already requested tomorrow off work, I have instead booked an appointment at the cemetery to design a headstone for Ailish’s grave.

August 30th, 2011 7:55 PM

such confusion is completely ridiculous. i am sure you wrote a wonderful statement – those are definitely the two most import messages. good luck tomorrow. thinking of you.

August 31st, 2011 11:04 AM

Court houses are designed to invoke frustration, I think.

Your statement will be read by someone (probably several someones), even if not in the official capacity you had envisioned. Then those people will know Ailish was awesome and that you miss her.

As we know it.

Take care of yourself.

Christopher Thompson
September 1st, 2011 10:36 AM

I kind of got the impression that court houses were not designed to be used by victims. But then, the people there clearly accused of some crime or another looked pretty unhappy, too. The bike couriers just looked bored.

I certainly would like the bus driver to read my statement, but I suppose I could simply mail it to him if he does not read it.

Christopher Thompson
September 1st, 2011 7:28 PM

I suppose I should point out here that the bus driver reserved his plea. He is next scheduled to attend on September 12th, which is likely to be more of the same.

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