Maintaining Fairness Paramount in Sex Assault Trials

Dec 6, 2018 By Melody Izadi
Those in the justice system should be as vigilant about ensuring there's no political interference to derail the court process as they are about supporting sexual assault victims bringing complaints forward, Toronto criminal lawyer Melody Izadi tells “We all support victims of violence having a voice,” says Izadi, an associate with Caramanna, Friedberg LLP. “But the #MeToo movement has already sparked pre-emptory challenges (questioning potential juror’s impartiality) during jury selection.

“There’s sometimes an assumption that when a victim comes to court they must be believed. But that’s what the trial is for — to test that.” Critics who cite the decision in the 2016 high-profile trial of former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi as an example of what is wrong with the justice system missed the point, she says. Most probably didn’t read the judgment and are even less likely to understand the court process that led to doubt about complainants’ testimony and an acquittal.

The subsequent personal attacks on social media against defence counsel were unjust, Izadi adds. “As defence counsel, we don’t have to believe whether our client is guilty or innocent. Our job to do the best job possible to ensure a fair trial,” she says. “If that was your husband, brother or dad accused, you’d want the same result if that was the testimony.”

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