|January 13, 2003.
XXXX Xxxxxx Rd.
Chief Justice Roy McMurtry
c/o Osgoode Hall
130 Queen Street West
Dear Chief Justice McMurtry
RE: One reason why the courts are backlogged
I read an article in the Toronto Star, dated January 7, 2003, in which it was reported
that you were upset about the courts being backlogged and that you were looking for
answers to this problem.
As one woman who has been forcefully and unwillingly branded as a helpless
victim of domestic violence by police and the local Crown Attorneys
office, I would like to give you what my thoughts are as to why the courts are backlogged.
Early last year, it a fit of anger and frustration against my husband, I wrongly called
police. I was under medication at the time and to this day still suffer from
depression and severe anxiety disorder. When I get upset at my husband, my disorder
causes me to get angry and to want to cause problems for him. Calling police on that
occasion was my reaction that day to cause him problems. Under pressure from police
to charge him with something and during a moment when my mind was not thinking clearly, I
told police that I felt that husband had threatened to harm me and the children. I
have seen so much in the newspapers and on the TV about husbands abusing their wives that
this was the first thought that came to my mind when the police came to my home.
There was absolutely no physical violence leading up to my call to police, absolutely
none. At the time, however, I did not realize the implications of my actions as I
was acting more out of emotion, rather than from reason.
Police officers never asked if there would have been any reason to cause me to make
these allegations nor did they seem to care. No time was given for me to get my
thoughts together rationally. Police just took my words as being the truth.
Immediately, my husband was arrested and thrown in jail where he eventually spent six
weeks in jail. After his arrest, I became even more anxious and fearful of
authorities for doing something that was wrong.
Initially, I stayed at a womens shelter as I thought this was the thing to
do. While in the womens shelter, I was put under tremendous pressure from
shelter workers, most of who are divorced women themselves, to say even more negative
things about my husband to get him in more trouble with the law. I felt pressured by
shelter staff and felt compelled to follow their legal instructions. In my opinion,
shelters should not be giving legal advice to woman or pressuring women to take certain
legal actions. This should be left up to the lawyers. Being in a position of
dependency at the shelter makes a woman feel obligated to follow the legal advice given to
them by the workers. While in the shelter, both myself and my children were
inundated with information about how abusive men are. I believe that exposure to
domestic violence audio and visual materials in the shelter has negatively affected my
children to the point where even they may now feel that men, in general, are
abusive. As it turned out, the shelter was not just a place where women can go for
help, but a place were women and children are told all the bad things about men and where
women are encouraged to divorce their husbands and break up their families. While my
children and I were at the shelter, the police had to come in and take one woman out of
the facility for being abusive to the other women in front of the children. My
children were exposed to more abuse in the shelter than they were ever exposed outside of
When I tried to admit my mistake to the Crown Attorneys office, I was basically
told that I was a liar and that I had better stick to my original statement which was made
while under pressure and while suffering from anxiety. I was told that women only
recant their stories because their husbands are intimidating them. I was told that I would
get arrested if I tried to change my story. When I tried to get my lawyer to write a
letter to the Crown to explain the circumstances, my lawyer refused to follow my
instructions. It was as if my lawyer was not willing to go against what he knew the
Crown and the police wanted, which was to get my husband to plead guilty. My lawyer
refused to return my phone calls and refused to answer my letters to his office.
Yet, while my lawyer refused to follow my instructions, to my knowledge he billed Legal
Aid, claiming to represent me. I wrote my own letter to the Crowns Office
directly but they refused to respond.
During this whole ordeal, nobody in the Justice System wanted to help me or my
children. Everyone just wanted to label me as a poor victim and my husband as an
abuser. Not at any time did I get the feeling that the justice system cared about
me, my children, or about justice. The feeling that I have to this day is that the
only thing the system wants is to convict my husband and that they will use any means,
including intimidation and removal of children, to accomplish this.
I went to the court during one of preliminary hearings to try to tell the truth but when
the Crown Attorney saw me at the court, she would not even talk to me. Yet, when my
husband was in a hearing, representatives of the local womens shelter had no problem
getting a private meeting with the Crown to discuss my husbands case. It seems that
the Crown Attorney considered what the representatives of the local womans shelter
had to say as being more important than what I, the alleged victim, had to say.
Everything seemed to revolve around how to get my husband convicted and to keep him from
seeing our children, no matter what the cost to myself and the children was.
My husband has been forced from his job due to the actions of the authorities who
contacted his work and had him dismissed. Myself, and my four children have been
forced on to the welfare system. My children cry to see their father who has always been a
good father to them. The Childrens Aid has threatened to take my children from
me if I let the children see their father, yet he has always been a good father to
them. Terrible financial and emotional harm has been done to my children, myself and
my husband by the justice system.
It has been over nine months since my familys horror story with the justice
system started. To this day, those in the Justice system still do not want to listen
to me nor do they care about my children. It seems that the system is not willing to
admit that a woman can make a mistake such as calling police out of anger. Based on
my experience, it seems that criminalizing and persecuting fathers, regardless of the
damage done to children, is the ultimate goal of the system. I feel that all of our
family members have been victimized by the system and this is so terribly wrong and
Since this matter started, thousands of dollars in taxpayers monies have been
spent and countless hours spent on my case by police, court officials and the Crown
Attorneys Office. I am the only witness to just statements made, yet the Crown
Attorney presses on relentlessly to get my husband to plead guilty while intimidating me
to go along with what they want. How can he plead guilty when he is not? I
would not expect him or want him to plead guilty for an alleged crime he did not do.
What kind of justice would that be?
There appears to be a systemic bias against fathers by the police and the Crown
Attorneys Office in the area of domestic violence to the point where justice is
being purposely and maliciously disregarded. I have a young son and it worries me to
think of what he might face in the justice system when he gets older. I am appalled
at what I have seen is going on with justice in this province and how domestic violence is
being used to destroy families. Based on just a few words said in anger, the justice
system has gone on a witch hunt against my husband and in the process caused terrible harm
to my entire family.
So getting back on the topic of the backlog in the court system, just put a stop to the
persecuting and criminalizing of fathers and ensure that the principles of equality and
fundamental justice are upheld by those working in the system and I am sure that you will
see a noticeable drop in the court system caseload. Justice, not man-hating
ideology, must prevail in our justice system.
cc: all members of Provincial Parliament