Judge Dredd: Coming Soon to a Street Near You?
I try not to be an alarmist, but in my day job as a criminal lawyer, my observation is that there is a slow creep in Canada, the U.S. and Britain away from civil liberties and an erosion of due process. There are already aspects of a police state at play, in my view, and I think this is a reason why the Judge Dredd comic resonates with so many people and especially with me. I just think of one case I'm working on where literally all of the evidence that the Crown intends to use against my client would not have been admissible 20 years ago (and had inadmissible since at least the 17th century). Yet it will probably all be admitted when we get to trial.
As part of a different case I recently argued in Court, reference was made to a particularly disturbing passage from an October 2012 decision of the Canadian Supreme Court, Her Majesty the Queen v. Boudreault, "anyone found inebriated and behind the wheel with a present ability to drive will — and should — almost invariably be convicted." The Crown Attorney certainly asserted that this passage means what it says: any person found drunk in the driver's seat of the car, regardless of his intentions and what he's actually doing there, should be convicted.
The Canadian parliament and courts, at the behest of MADD, have certainly been heading in that direction. In British Columbia, the authorities have taken a different tack, instituting draconian Highway Traffic Act laws that allow police to impound vehicles and suspend licenses on the spot (rather than resorting to Criminal Code) charges when they encounter suspected drunk drivers. Now, while stopping drunk driving is a laudable goal, annihilating due process, is not the way to do it in my opinion. But in any event, it certainly smacks of a precursor to a Judge Dredd-style system where the police act as judge, jury, and executioner, dishing-out on-the-spot "justice" without a trial.