I just heard a great interview with Marie Corbett on CBC radio. She was a judge who felt powerless and so she retired in the hopes of bringing about change from outside the system. That is pretty remarkable – for a judge to feel powerless. Where does that leave one, individual woman, seeking justice in the legal system? Here are some things Corbett said, “The accused person has the rights to a fair trial. The victim does not have a right to a fair trial. A trial is not an inquiry in to the whole truth of an event. It is not the judges role to dispense overall justice for all the parties…. The victim has no clear rights in criminal law. The accused must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” She went on to say that anyone would find a cross examination awful. “It is excruciating to be cross examined on intimate matters.” Corbett noted that 98% of perpetrators of violent crime are men and that there is a general “disrespect of women in our culture”.
I think it is important to hear Corbett’s voice. I am often supporting women as they prepare to testify in court against their partner or ex-partner. It is excruciating and most of the women leave the process feeling like justice has not been served. I think too often women think that maybe they have somehow done something wrong – they should have never reported the violence or they should have been better witnesses. It is important to know that the whole system is broken and when you have to enter that system, it is going to take a huge toll on you.