Maybe we could outfit a few of our judges with RCMP uniforms and send them out to do a bit of field work.
Or failing that (I suspect basic training in Regina is somewhat more physically demanding than law school) maybe we could send them on a few ride-alongs.
They need to see what actually happens when people having a bad day do something stupid while driving.
We could call it the Especially Bad Day Reality Orientation Program.
There are at least some judges sitting on the benches in this province and across Canada who need to be among the first to look inside the mangled wreckage of a car that contains the bodies - or the body parts - of people who happened to come across a driver who was having a bad day.
They need to have the opportunity to be involved in cleaning up the mess that comes out of someone's bad day.
They need to be - at least for one moment in their lives - the police officer who has to go to a stranger's home with news that will make the universe collapse right before their very eyes.
I was once nearly the victim of someone who was having a bad day. She was upset, got drunk, and headed off on the wrong side of the freeway, looking for someone to help her commit suicide.
A relatively novice driver at the time, I barely got out of her way and ended with my car in the ditch - but somehow without so much as a scratch, on either myself or the car.
When she got into the courtroom, the judge blamed her, not her bad day.
I also was personally made to realize, a few years later, that having a bad day is not an excuse for making the day worse.
I was speeding. Not by a huge margin, but nevertheless significantly enough to warrant notice. And I got caught.
But instead of a stoic police officer asking for my driver's licence and wordlessly writing out a ticket, I got a motorcycle cop who'd clearly had enough of jerks like me ruining his perfectly good days.
He started out angry, wondering aloud at what kind of thoughtless jackass would risk the lives of his family and others on the road by driving like an idiot.
Then he got to the meat and potatoes: it was a couple of days before Christmas, and experience demanded that, by the time New Year's Eve rolled around, he would be called to a car crash, and he would be awarded the dubious honour of telling a husband or wife or their children that a husband or wife or their children would never be coming home... because someone like me had killed them.
He was saddened by the prospect.
He made me feel like I was a piece of dirt that needed to be scraped off someone's shoe.
And he made me slow down.
I do not discount the possibility that he saved my life that day - and maybe other lives, too: lives of the people I love who ride in my vehicle with me, or people I've never known who share the roads with me.
Still to this day, when I catch myself in too much of a hurry, I think of him.
And he saves my life again.
Might I suggest that B.C. Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper be placed near the head of the list for our Especially Bad Day Reality Orientation Program? Her handling of the case of Andelina Hecimovic and the bad day that resulted in the deaths of Beckie Dyer and Johnny De Oliveira suggests that she could really benefit from some of that hands-on experience.
@ Copyright 2013