Judge Slapped for Bias in Pot Case

The Ontario Court of Appeal has rebuked a Brampton trial judge for suggesting it would be a form of “insanity” to jail a man for running a large-scale marijuana grow operation.

By choosing to subject Zeyu Song to 12 months house arrest, Justice Elliott Allen fashioned a sentence “based on his personal views of national drug policy” and engaged in an unhelpful “personal diatribe” about prison’s ineffectiveness in curbing the drug trade.

Despite a line of cases from the appeal court instructing judges that conditional sentences in these cases should be rare, Allen suggested it is largely up to local judges to develop their own marijuana sentencing practices.

In doing so, he completely upended the notion that appeal courts, in many instances, should defer to a trial judge’s conclusions, an appeal panel ruled Wednesday.

“The principle of deference is not a licence for the sentencing judge to defy settled jurisprudence, ignore the principles of the Criminal Code, or use his or her dais as a political podium,” Justices Michael Moldaver, Janet Simmons and Robert Blair said in a decision collectively authored by “the court.”

When Song, who pleaded guilty to a charge of production of marijuana, came before the court last year to be sentenced, Allen rejected a federal prosecutor’s argument that a jail term was necessary to discourage people from getting involved in the drug trade.

“What’s your basis for saying that?” the judge pressed. “Because nobody has been deterred. People have been going to jail for drug offences for – for a couple of generations now and the drug – the drug plague is worse than it ever was.”

Allen questioned why, when a form of sentencing “doesn’t work,” he would try it again and again.

“Isn’t that a form of insanity?” he asked.

The judge noted that, in the United States, a huge number of people are serving life sentences without parole for growing or trafficking in moderate amounts of marijuana.

Meanwhile, the chances of a Dutch teen smoking marijuana – which is available at their local coffee shop – are substantially lower than the likelihood of an American teenager using the drug, he said.

All society is really doing by prohibiting the production and consumption of marijuana is “giving the Hells Angels several billion dollars worth of income every year,” Allen said.

While “judges are entitled to hold personal and political opinions as much as anyone else,” they are not free to permit those views to colour or frame their trial and sentencing decisions, the court said.

As unhappy as it was with Allen’s approach to sentencing, however, the appeal panel had a practical dilemma. Song had served his term of house arrest and, in such circumstances, the court decided “it would not serve the interests of justice” to send him back to jail.

So while the Crown won in principle, its appeal of Song’s sentence was dismissed.

– Article from the Toronto Star.

Comments

28 Comments

  1. Dan-o on

    “I hope you have a safe holiday and a wonderful new year.

    420 peace, love, anarchy”

    Same to you and yours. Thank you again for the music links. Ramblin’ Jack is awesome, particularly the Dylan remakes.

  2. greg williams on

    Its hard to believe that Todd was homeless here in California for a while.., but he was.
    Roy and i have been friends for a handful of years now.
    He lives just over the Golden Gate Bridge from my house.

    As for wolves and the rest of us animals?
    Well, it seems to me that a wolf has to kill other animals in order to survive. They are built and designed to do such things.

    Us humans have alternatives and it seems to be that meat eating is pretty mush a luxury and not a necessitiy.

    With all the starvation and hunger going on it just seems like we could do more by to help curb hunger by examining our own habits.

    Heres my point.., or one of a few.

    It takes about 12 lbs of grain/oats to produce 1 lb of humburger.
    With that 1 lb of hamburger you can feed 2-3 people for one meal.

    On the other hand, if we took that same 12 lbs of grain/oats to feed people we could feed a family of 3-4 for a couple of days.

    I do not mind hijacking a thread from a group of people who tend to do nothing but be nasty to one another. And they seem to enjoy it, which imo puts the cows in even a worse position. If we cant treat one another well, the cows and other inhabitants do not stand much of a chance.
    I think our self importance is a god forsaken bore.

    I have a very dear friend, Tommy Womack, who could use some support. He is an awesome musician, family man. http://www.tommywomack.com

    Also, Will Kimbrough. http://www.willkimbrough.com

    When Todd joins forces with them( Tommy and Will) they become the , Nervous Wrecks.
    I have a Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton autographed that will eventually end up in Wills lap. He likes nice suprises.

    Will and Tommy have a “Daddy” thing going. Checkem out.

    I watched a great program last night about Ramblin’ Jack Elliote. That guy is a hoot and a holler.

    I hope you have a safe holiday and a wonderful new year.

    420 peace, love, anarchy

  3. Dan-o on

    On the issue of animals, there is one thing I bet we can sgree on. Zoos in my opinion are an evil with almost zero redeeming value. Talk about an abomination! So…think we’ve hijacked this blog long enough yet?lol

  4. Anonymous on

    I won’t debate the seeming inhumanity of living the way we do. But I’d point out a few things. Humans are just smart animals. Like it or not we ARE animals. Does a chicken feel guilt for eating a worm or bug to survive? Does a wolf or wolf pack feel a does pain as they take it down? or an eagle when it drops a rabbit to kill it? I don’t believe so.As such I tend to feel the same way towards the deer I kill or the cows that are slaughtered in the name of feeding people (myself included). It would be cruel if it were happening to me no doubt…But it isn’t and I love the taste of a good venison steak or chicken or… you get the point. So, if an Eagle were smart enough to rabbit farm, I tend to think they’d do so, and since humans am smart enough to conquer hunger (well most civilized nations are at any rate)I feel no sympathy for my meal, I just thank God(or nature) for providing it. B double e double r- u- n beerrun!! I been a fan of his since I 1st heard that on Bob & Tom’s morning show. The Zimmerman guy was new to me though, very funny, I’m still trying to listen to them all, thx fer the links!

  5. greg williams on

    It sounds like you may already know what i’m about to tell you, but, wtf.

    Chicken/Egg farming is probably the most cruel forms of farming there is.

    Since their isnt any profit in raising male chickens the baby male chicks are thrown into grinding machines while alive. Since it takes a while to determine sex, they are usually a few weeks old before being grinded up.

    I think that the baby chicken dreams dreams that would terrify the chicken farmer.

  6. greg williams on

    Well, ‘ive been workin on this ol’ building for nearly 60 years and look forward to the day it doesnt make so much noise in the wind.

    I’m not sure getting out more can be accomplished. I am quite a active backpacker, rock climber, kayaking, old man, but i’ll see if i can find the time to take you up on your suggestion.

    I have found that its much easier and appropriate spending my time working on myself instead of working on others.

    Holding myself accountable and not so much holding others accountable seems to work best for me.

    I am a musician at heart and spend lots of time pickin songs on my guitars and fiddle.

    If you enjoy cleverly written songs and songs with meaning and insight, i have two good friends still out on the road pluggin’ away that you might enjoy.
    Todd Snider.
    Roy Zimmerman.

    I just played with Todd a couple weeks back and had a helluva good time.

    Google them up and see if your world changes. I have a sneaky feeling that it will.

    I found a 4 leaf clover
    out in my yard today
    it had 1 leaf missing off of it
    but that was okay
    looking it over i could easily see
    that 4 leafs was really only 1 more than 3
    and thats close enough for me
    it must be my lucky day

  7. Dan-o on

    Well you and I seem to be able to disagree amicably at any rate. Thank you for the “Cows with Guns”, I got a good laugh at that. Chickens in choppers indeed!I do wish you luck staying reasonable I know I can’t do it…the people who try to bring out the hate and anger are just SO damned good at it. As far as befriending the cows …God bless you, but I think you may need to get out more :)

  8. greg williams on

    I do not share my feelings because i think i am right and you are wrong. I am not trying to change any person opinion by sharing mine. I express myself for my own piece of mind.

    I use the word ” murder” because thats what IMO it is. Unless someone can provide me information that clearly shows animals gladly sacrificing themselves( slitting their own throats, jumping into machines that crush them to death,shooting thmelseves in th head..etc etc) and not killed at the hands of humans, it just seems like an appropriate word to use.

    Do a google search for ” Cows with guns”. Its a very cleverly written song.

    Persoanally, i havent eaten an animal for 30 years. What changed my mind? I worked on a dairy farm for a while. It was then that i stopped seeing animals as a food source and saw them as creatures that i shared the world with. It was their behavior and the love they showed for their babies that made me see them in a different light. While working with them i had noticed that they had observations of their own. They had feelings/emotions. They had, and shared, pain
    I became their friend. We even started to trust eachother.
    Ol’ number 223 would follow me around like my own child would. She would rub against me. She loved being scratched behind the ears. She showed a genuine appreciation towards me when i cleaned her stalls and fed her. I then started to realise that i didnt have to kill them in order to survive.

    As for all the hate an anger here? I am guilty of such feelings and behavior and i am honestly working on trying to better myself. I am finding out that its much easier to shake hands when you arent making a fist. Wish me luck. I find it very hard sometimes to be reasonable in an unreasonable world.

  9. Dan-o on

    Man! Greg, I was SO with you untill the murdered animals thing… I am really enjoying a hamburger as I type though…mmmm murdered seared animal flesh NEVER tasted so good! Ya know…for a cannabis related site there sure is alot of hate flying around here. Weird don’t ya think?

  10. Anonymous on

    Sending people to prison for cultivation is very heavy handed
    all the revenue from drugs are not being taxed or regulated, our government wants control over everything but when it comes to drugs they want no control, they know that more people are dying from pharmaceutical drug overdoses than heroine or cocaine, I favor taxing and regulating and taking the tax money and use it to build schools or hire more teachers. Justice Allen is a reasonable man and not afraid to speak out against Draconian Laws, is Canada signing up with the New World Government? you won’t be able to hold your politicians accountable for Insane Laws, your new laws are going to be coming from a bunch of fat rich bankers, the same that took over our treasury and federal reserve and now wants to put most of us in cages.
    There are only two sides you can take: Do you want Bondage or Do you want freedom you will have to choose, we can see Justice Elliot Allen has made his choice for justice.

  11. greg williams on

    You attack people from nations who your nation helped attack.

    You call those who went ” snitches”

    you make obsene comments derogatory to women

    you attack others using homophobic rhetoric

    you probably eat your share of murdered animals

    I am not a very religious person, but when i do pray, i’ll pray for you.

  12. greg williams on

    all that hate and ignorance will cause you more harm than any person could ever cause you.

    greg williams
    Vietnam Era Vet

  13. Anonymous on

    i agree!!!

  14. Josh Smith on

    Seriously man, just shut the fuck up. It’s real easy to spout hate from the anonymity and safety behind your computer screen isn’t it? If you hate the Vietnamese gang members so much, why the hell don’t you go tell one of them off in person. Assuming they’re as bad as you believe, you’d be doing your country a favor by removing yourself from it.

  15. Eh on

    As they said, there are a few bad Vietnamese that ruin their country’s name as will happen with any country. You’d be one of those Canadians that do the same.

  16. Anonymous on

    No that was you, only it was a Nammie’s bag you were licking. What a bunch of jerks on this blog. Why don’t you all just make a petition to rename Canada to North Vietnam 2? You pussies make me puke. You shouldn’t be in Canada either. Nam is THAT way. Here’s a bamboo raft for you, get on it and start paddling, Nammie loving traitor bastards. I bet if you guys had been sent to Nam you would have been a snitch for the NVA, snitching pout the Canadians’ location. Holy fuck Canada has a lot of Nammie loving fags. I guess that’s why they love Canada so much. Where else would there be people stupid enough to bend over for a Nammie and say please send more here because we don’t have enough dog roastings yet. Fuck you people are maggots.

  17. Anonymous on

    Screw off, Nammie lover. WTF does Canada need Vietnamese weed growers for? Go kiss a Vietnamese gang member. He’ll stab you and then you’ll say “but I just want to share the love”, then he’ll shoot you. Dumb Nammie loving bastards.

  18. Anonymous on

    Why don’t you two Nammie huggers go to Nam then? Dumb bastards. Whatsa matter, Canada too non Asian for you? Then why are you here?

  19. Anonymous on

    I saw that first poster just the other day.
    They were dragging him out of a men’s restroom where he had been caught licking the deodorant pucks while they were still in the urinal.

  20. Caber1 on

    This judge should be prime minister. This guy has balls and morals. He is not scared of the dumb f##ks in power and he says it like it is.

  21. tim on

    your a prohibitionist racist dumb ass

  22. Anonymous on

    And you anonymous what have you got to contribute to this country ? Your Hatred of foreigners ?

  23. Kao Pec Tat on

    Reply to anonymous vietnamese again
    Now I know why you have preferred to sign anonymous.
    Person like you should stay anonymous. Canada does not need racists like you and I would really have a good laugh should I hear a Vietnamese put a live grenade in your front pocket really tight next to your balls.
    I urge you to stay anonymous for the rest of your life

  24. jomila on

    We need more judges that think rationally like this, and less people with the mind frame of the first poster. You sir, are the definition of “Dumb Fuck”.

  25. Keith in Nanaimo on

    I think I will bother to call you a Racist. You are simply perpetuating the problem of over generalization, categorizing and labeling in our society. You help fuel the ignorant cycle of bigotry with your views. Even if those views are founded on an element of truth, your harsh words are hurtful to the many honest immigrants trying to make a good life in this beautiful country.

    Whether you come from Asia, Iran, Russia or Tanzania originally, there will be examples of bad people spoiling your reputation here. Good Canadians will try to see the good in all our bloodlines, despite a few bad apples of any race. I am 3rd generation Canadian but we were/are all immigrants at one stage or another. Try a little less hate and you might just be able to distinguish the bad ones from the majority good.

    Having said all that; Get rid of Prohibition and we get rid of gangs of ALL colours! Thats the message here.

  26. Brian Kerr on

    The judge should join LEAP and become a speaker for them.

    He was absolutely correct about prohibition being useless.

  27. Anonymous on

    Oh that judge is a dumb fuck. Song is a Vietnamese name. When a Vietnamese person gets caught growing for the gang, and they all are, they need a nice long sentence, like 5 years, to send a message that Canada does not welcome foreigners coming here to take advantage of our soft judges. Their ancestors didn’t do the work of building this country and their fathers probably shot at a lot of Canadians in Nam and maybe even kept a few in bamboo cages. Vietnamese gangs horning in on our weed growing territory is not cool. I bet he spent his house arrest in a grow house tending some more plants. Those Nammies (I made a cool new name for them) are a damn menace to the free world.

    And don’t even bother replying that I am a racist. The Vietnamese are a savage dog eating people who would stick a grenade in your back pocket as soon as look at you. They steal electricity and destroy perfectly good houses with their shoddy growing techniques. We don’t need those kind of growers here. They should all go to Spain where they will have even softer laws, but I really doubt that the Spanish would tolerate them there like dumb Canadian immigration officials do. Oh, sure, we need Vietnamese here. We have too many stray dogs running around. Aside from that, what do they have to contribute?