Articles re withdrawal of charges against former Ontario AG Michael Bryant

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Bloor Street serves as city’s dividing line

National Post

26 May 2010

Adam McDowell,  National Post   

Mark Blinch, Reuters  

Michael Bryant began rewriting his narrative yesterday. 

In a polished, emotionally controlled address at a downtown hotel, he spoke for the first time about the night that changed his life, and took away the life of another man. He urged Torontonians to put aside the view of the fatal collision he was involved in last summer as a clash between different sectors of a city divided by class, politics and choice of vehicle. 

“This has turned out to be a tale about addiction, mental health, an independent justice system and a couple out on their wedding anniversary driving home with the top down. It is not a morality play about bikes versus cars, couriers versus drivers, or one about class, privilege or politics,” he said. 

“It’s just about how in 28 seconds, everything can change.” 

Mr. Bryant, who became a Liberal MPP at the age of 33 and attorney-general at 37, was speaking to reporters a few hours after being unburdened of the charges against him of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death

Special prosecutor Richard Peck was satisfied that bicycle courier Darcy Allan Sheppard, 33, bore the blame for the incident last August in which he died on Bloor Street. Mr. Sheppard grabbed onto Mr. Bryant’s car and was dragged some 100 metres. 

Torontonians have argued ever since that night about whether Mr. Bryant was acting in self-defence when he reacted to what he called yesterday “a terrifying situation.” He evidently swerved into the oncoming lane to shake Mr. Sheppard, who was drunk and had a history of confrontations with drivers. 

Mr. Bryant extended his “sympathies and sincere condolences” to the courier’s family and the assurance that “I have grieved that loss and always will.” 

Indeed, much of Mr. Bryant’s statement to the media yesterday detailed his personal turmoil since the charges. He talked about gaining a new perspective on the justice system, “from its highest pedestal as attorney general to its pillory, a defendant handcuffed in the back of a squad car, accused of two very serious offences involving the tragic death of a man.” 

Mr. Bryant said the “manically cheerful and audacious disposition” of his past was now tempered. He thanked his wife, entertainment lawyer Susan Abramovitch, for sticking with a “broken Bryant” who found himself suddenly unemployed last fall. He had stepped down from his seat in the wealthy midtown riding of St. Paul’s in May 2009 to run Invest Toronto, and quit that job after being charged. 

He thanked the law firm Ogilvy Renault, “who hired me last December despite my being criminally indicted.” He works as a senior consultant for the firm and said he will continue to do so. He noted, gravely, that he has legal bills to pay. 

On the streets and on elevators, Mr. Bryant said he has been met by people who sympathized with him: ” ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ These were the words I heard again and again from people.” 

Of course, Mr. Bryant does not receive such a warm reception everywhere in Toronto. 

Regardless of the popular image of Torontonians as a homogeneous mass of latte-sipping liberals–as the cliche goes — the reality is that a divide exists between the granola greens and socialists of downtown and the Champagne liberals who live north of Bloor (to employ other overused, but useful, stereotypes). 

Bloor Street often serves as the colloquial boundary between the comfortable midtown/ uptown Toronto where Mr. Bryant lives, and the grittier, bustling sections of downtown, where Liberals are considered conservative and the bicycle has made the most headway against the car. 

It is a not insignificant detail then, to note that the fateful collision occurred on Bloor 

Street, the stand-in for this dividing line in the city. 

As such, many downtowners may side with, say, Yvonne Bambrick, executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union. She showed up at yesterday’s news conference to persuade reporters to watch grainy YouTube videos that she said prove Mr. Bryant nudged Mr. Sheppard, provoking their encounter. 

Asked if she thought the police and courts are biased in favour of drivers over cyclists, Ms. Bambrick said, “On some level, yes,” and added, “I speak for thousands of Torontonians and people across the country who have been watching this case–I don’t think we’ve seen justice here.” 

The late Mr. Sheppard’s father, Allan Sheppard, told reporters, “you get a different part of the justice system if you have power and money.” 

But after seeming to echo the expected downtown view, he offered this more nuanced pronouncement: “The people who made the decisions, they heard me, they listened to me, they talked to me with great respect. They reached a decision that I’ll accept.” 

While Mr. Bryant may live on the boundary between the affluent Deer Park and Forest Hill neighbourhoods, he spends much of his time downtown — enough to be on a first-name basis with shopkeepers in the hip-but-scruffy Trinity Bellwoods stretch of Queen Street. He buys his trademark colourful socks and ties there. 

Walking with him along Queen Street for an interview last summer, it was evident he was equally conversant on competitive tax policy and the importance of quirky retail strips to the city’s economic health. It’s not every Toronto politician who can speak to uptown and downtown; Mr. Bryant, whose political career seemed destined to be smashed to pieces on Bloor Street last year, could be one of those who can. 

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Decades-old robbery influenced Bryant case

National Post 

Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

 Shannon Kari, National Post 

 The withdrawal of charges against Michael Bryant stems in large part from legal principles established in a three-decade old case involving an attempted robbery in Orillia.

 Two men were fatally shot by Antonio Scopelliti, who owned a variety store and gas bar and claimed he was acting in self-defence. Mr. Scopelliti was acquitted at trial and the verdict was upheld in 1981 by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Previous acts of aggression by the two men were presented to support the self-defence claim, even though Mr. Scopelliti did not know about them when he fired his gun.

 That case set out the rules on when a defendant can attack a victim’s character; yesterday, prosecutor Richard Peck referenced them as he outlined why he was withdrawing charges against Mr. Bryant. 

The appeal court noted evidence of other aggressive behaviour by the deceased is not normally admissible. “Otherwise the deceased’s bad character may be put forward as a mere excuse for the killing,” it said.

 But an exception can be made when the bad character evidence “reasonably assists” the jury in reaching a “just verdict,” such as when it is “so highly distinctive or unique as to carry a signature,” said the court.

 It was this application of the numerous other confrontations that Mr. Sheppard allegedly had with motorists that led the prosecution to conclude it was a “signature” that would be front and centre at any trial of Mr. Bryant.

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For Michael Bryant, an extraordinary kind of justice

From an outside special prosecutor to an extremely forthcoming defence lawyer, the case still involves preferential treatment

Toronto Globe & Mail

26 May 2010  

Christie Blatchford  

Published on Tuesday, May. 25, 2010 10:39PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, May. 26, 2010 7:42AM EDT  

Look, it’s the right result, but unless you were born yesterday, what Michael Bryant got by way of justice was not the ordinary sort, but the extra-fair sort. 

Charges of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death against the former Ontario Liberal Party star in the Aug. 31 death last year of cyclist Darcy Sheppard were formally withdrawn at Old City Hall before the matter could proceed to a preliminary hearing or trial. 

Mr. Sheppard suffered a fatal head injury as he was dislodged from Mr. Bryant’s car, and died later in hospital. He was 33. 

What unfolded in Courtroom 121 at Old City Hall in Toronto yesterday was the final carefully handled stage in a case that was exceptional from the get-go. 

Curiously, the overriding concern was always that the former Ontario attorney-general would be seen to get preferential treatment because of his high profile and connections. 

Thus, the system kicked in with a variety of ostensible safeguards to ensure that didn’t happen. 

In the result, of course, what Mr. Bryant got was preferential treatment: How ironic is that? 

An outside special prosecutor, Richard Peck, was brought in from British Columbia to ensure the case was handled independently. Mr. Peck is one of the best criminal lawyers in the business; he was assisted by another top lawyer, Mark Sandler, who was Mr. Peck’s man on the ground in Toronto. 

Mr. Bryant’s lawyer, the formidable Marie Henein, provided to Mr. Peck and Mr. Sandler disclosure of her “full file.” 

This is practically unheard of. 

Defence lawyers who howl like dogs in mid-castration at the slightest delay in prosecutorial disclosure routinely balk at even hinting at their planned strategy, let alone who their witnesses and experts are. 

This truth Ms. Henein acknowledged, saying it was unprecedented in her career. She credited it to her unwavering confidence in the strength of her case, but it could also be that this was the first time she had a client who was actually innocent. 

Presumably, Ms. Henein had hired a private detective – certainly someone – to dig into the sordid background of Mr. Sheppard and pull together the various accounts of other motorists who came forward after Mr. Bryant was arrested with their own horror stories about frightening encounters with Mr. Sheppard. 

Certainly, Mr. Peck said, much of the information uncovered by the continuing investigation came from the defence. 

There were, incidentally, a half-dozen of those horror stories, all dating from 2009, four from August that year, and one from earlier the same night Mr. Bryant encountered Mr. Sheppard. In one instance, the motorist had called 911; in another, Mr. Sheppard’s terrifying behaviour – he leapt onto the car and had one arm in the open driver’s side window – was captured by cameras on a nearby building. 

In any case, all of this information went, Ms. Henein said, “to the Crown with no conditions.” Materials from defence expert witnesses were also handed over, and were subjected, Mr. Peck said, to “independent review” by Crown experts hired for the occasion. Mr. Sandler and one of the Toronto Police detectives had the opportunity to interview Mr. Bryant and his lawyer wife, Susan Abramovitch, who was in the car with him that night. 

Mr. Peck said various forensic experts reviewed aspects of the evidence, including videotapes. Suffice to say it was a thorough review; even the “luminosity” of Mr. Bryant’s headlights was noticed and analyzed. 

At the end of it all, Mr. Peck said, the Crown had no reasonable chance of convicting Mr. Bryant on either charge, or any lesser one (they looked at that possibility). Mr. Bryant’s defence would have been one of justification – he was confronted by an aggressive, increasingly enraged younger man, was terrified for himself and his wife, and panicked, Mr. Sheppard’s tragic death the result. 

Even Mr. Sheppard’s adoptive father, 72-year-old Allan, reluctantly agreed outside the courtroom, that the case shouldn’t have gone to trial. 

You could have cut the self-satisfaction around Courtroom 121 with a chainsaw. Maybe. 

Mr. Peck thanked Ms. Henein for her splendid co-operation and the “extremely able and insightful” Toronto detectives. 

He went out of his way to speak kindly about the dead man, noting that he brought up Mr. Sheppard’s unlucky background (aboriginal, probably undiagnosed fetal alcohol syndrome, seized by child welfare and placed with his brother David in a staggering 30 foster homes before being adopted) and highlights of his criminal record “not to demonize Mr. Sheppard or for anyone to suggest he somehow deserved his fate,” but rather because in a case where self-defence was claimed, these were relevant facts. 

He praised the senior Mr. Sheppard, and finished off with a quote from John Donne: “Any man’s death diminishes me.” 

Ms. Henein, for her part, praised Mr. Peck and the exhaustive review, “months, days and hours” the prosecutors spent dissecting the evidence. She thanked the police for their “thorough and even-handed investigation.” 

Everyone agreed the charges were appropriate when they were laid, but that now, after all that had been learned since, withdrawing them was also the right thing. 

Here’s what usually happens: the Crown gets the case if not the night before at best a couple of weeks before, has a quick read, and it goes to a preliminary hearing. There, the evidence is called, although not nearly as thoroughly as it was here, and the Crown might conclude, correctly, that it’s a weak case, but odds are he’d let it go to trial. At trial, the average guy probably would be acquitted. 

Mr. Bryant said at a press conference later Tuesday that, “Nobody is above the law. But no one’s below the law, either.” 

He didn’t add that some folks get the old beater version, and some the Saab: T’was ever thus. 

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Live by rage, die from rage. 

Toronto Star 

26 May 2010 

By Rosie DiManno Columnist  

Darcy Allan Sheppard was a quixotic hothead consumed by demons from his awful past. But it was the devil inside him on the night of Aug. 31, 2009, that caused his death — and not the man who was once Ontario’s attorney general. 

Michael Bryant was merely the hapless vehicle of fate unfolding on a hot summer’s night when all the stars aligned so tragically. 

Deranged cyclist meets car. Car bumps infuriated cyclist. The cyclist was the provocateur. The driver was the terrified and disoriented wheelman. 

While no conclusive videotape exists of what happened in that confrontation, the déjà vu of it, of Sheppard’s documented fury towards cars and motorists, was captured by an office worker with a camera in a nearby building during a previous and eerily similar altercation: Sheppard, enraged, assaulting a driver only three weeks earlier, spitting on the car, jumping onto the vehicle, and hanging onto the window. 

“The photographs clearly show Mr. Sheppard angrily confronting the driver of the vehicle and at one point, hanging onto the car with his hands inside the driver’s window and his feet on the car’s running board,” special prosecutor Richard Peck, a Vancouver lawyer brought in to handle the case, told court Tuesday as he entered the photographs (see below) as exhibits in a packed courtroom at Old City Hall. 

Sheppard, a 33-year-old bike courier, may have been a sweet guy, as described by friends, with a humorous disposition. Yet he was also a profoundly violent alcoholic with a criminal record that included two assaults and threatening to kill a cab driver while armed with imitation firearms. Most Germaine to this case, Sheppard had been involved in six earlier duplicate incidents — four occurring last August — including one in which an elderly woman described him as a “mad man” and another earlier that night. 

A night that began with Sheppard in the back of a police cruiser which had responded to a domestic call; a night that ended, an hour later, with Bryant in the back of a police cruiser, about to be charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

Both charges were formally withdrawn in court on Tuesday. 

Just 28 seconds was the span of time that has forever linked Sheppard and Bryant, the former flung into a vortex of notoriety and the latter sprawled lifeless on the road. 

“In 28 seconds, everything can change,” said Bryant. 

What had never changed, regrettably, was the pattern of confrontations that Sheppard not only instigated but seemed hell-bent on ratcheting into crises — his “escalating cycle of aggressiveness toward motorists,” said Peck. 

While such previous conduct, entered in court, was not meant to “demonize” Sheppard — nor would aggressive conduct on other occasions have justified committing a criminal offence against him — Peck insisted that a propensity for violence, substantiated by credible witnesses, was relevant in determining whether Bryant had been attacked, essentially making the victim the aggressor and Bryant legitimately entitled to self-defence. 

This argument found little traction with Sheppard’s friends and defenders, with one declaring afterward that “it’s open season on cyclists.” But the prosecution’s methodical analysis of events found there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on either charge. Bryant might have conducted himself differently, changing the sad outcome, but under the stress and chaos of circumstances that Sheppard had orchestrated that night — his incendiary actions, his assault on the car, his apparent attempt to take control of the Saab convertible’s steering wheel — the alarmed driver’s response was understandable rather than criminal. 

“Mr. Bryant was confronted by a man who, unfortunately, was in a rage,” Peck told reporters outside court. “In such circumstances, he was legally justified in trying to get away. The case could not be proved.” 

That case was this: 

Bryant and his wife, Susan Abramovitch, had been out for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant to celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary. They had not consumed any alcohol, unlike Sheppard who had fallen off the wagon after eight days of sobriety, his blood alcohol level measured after death at 0.183 — more than twice the legal limit for driving a car. 

But he didn’t have a car, of course. He had a bicycle and Bryant first spotted him while driving homeward around 9.30 p.m., near the intersection of Bloor and Yonge Sts., noticing a cyclist impeding another motorist by doing figure 8s in front of the car. Other witnesses would later tell police that Sheppard had been throwing garbage onto the road and yelling at drivers. 

For reasons of his own, Sheppard clearly did this a lot — menacing motorists and provoking altercations. 

Bryant came to a red light between Bay St. and Avenue Rd., where traffic had narrowed to a single lane both ways because of construction. Sheppard, Bryant told investigators, cycled past his car on the driver’s side and then cut in front of the vehicle, stopping directly in front of the Saab. 

Bryant hit the brakes and the car stalled. Attempts to get the car started again caused it to lurch forward. There appeared to be no contact between the car and Sheppard’s bike but the cyclist was livid and he was already yelling at Bryant. 

He told police afterward he was in a state of panic when, restarting the vehicle, it accelerated unintentionally, shockingly, causing Sheppard to land on the hood. Bryant hit the brakes. Only 2.5 seconds elapsed from the time the vehicle started its forward motion and when it came to a halt, having travelled a total of about 30 feet. At this point, Sheppard was not seriously injured, said Peck. 

As Bryant tried to reverse the car and go around the bicycle, Sheppard tossed a backpack that contained a heavy U-shaped lock at either the hood or windshield, and then jumped on the car as Bryant — fearing that he and his wife would be attacked — tried driving away. Sheppard hung on. 

Defence lawyer Marie Henein described the scenario in court: “Darcy Allen would not let him go. . . . He ran at the car and jumped onto the driver’s side. Michael believed that he was trying to climb into the car. . . . Michael tried to stop the vehicle and push Darcy Sheppard off. Darcy Sheppard would not let go. Michael wasn’t strong enough to push the 6-foot-1 Darcy Sheppard off. During this attempt, Darcy Sheppard said, ‘You are not going to get away that easy.’ 

“Darcy Sheppard was deep into the vehicle with his entire upper torso leaning into the vehicle. At some point, Darcy Sheppard was laughing. Michael was desperately trying to control the steering wheel but was having difficulty doing so.” 

In Peck’s words, Sheppard was “latched on” to the car. 

Finally regaining some control of the steering wheel, Bryant drove into oncoming traffic to get away. 

Henein: “Michael was in a complete state of panic and fear. Throughout this brief but frightening attack, Susan thought they were both going to die.” 

While some witnesses claimed the car climbed the curb, forensic examination determined this had not happened. But with Sheppard still clinging to the vehicle, the Saab brushed within a foot of a sidewalk fire hydrant. That jostle caused Sheppard to be dislodged from his handhold, striking his head fatally on either the curb or a raised portion of the street. 

Bryant drove on around the corner, stopped at the Hotel Hyatt and called 911, waiting for police to arrive. 

Peck told court the point from where Sheppard jumped onto the Saab and the spot he fell off was about 100 metres. The fact Bryant drove away — though not far — did not support allegations of errors in judgment to establish criminal liability. The fear of an accused is relevant, Peck noted; Bryant and his wife were in a convertible, vulnerable, and fearful of Sheppard. 

While police acted properly in laying the charges, Peck concluded, the couple’s explanation of events and evidence collected afterward demanded that those charges be withdrawn. There was never any special treatment for Bryant because the accused was a former attorney general, he added. 

Sheppard — who’d knocked around some 30 foster homes in his childhood — may have had some justification for his chronic distemper. At least, that might help explain it. But his pitiable past was not relevant to what happened last Aug. 31, though the defence — and Bryant — was careful to reference the wretchedness of Sheppard’s difficult life. 

“Twenty-eight seconds and you are in the criminal justice system,” said Henein. “Twenty-eight seconds and you’re in the back of a police car. Twenty-eight seconds and you don’t go home to your children.” 

Twenty-eight seconds that Bryant wishes he could take back. 

“I certainly have gone back and thought about events,” he said later. “Could I have done something differently? I never would have left the house that night. I might have lingered longer on the Danforth. I might have turned right on Bay. . . ” 

There is plenty of . . . if only. 

The man who once appointed judges said he has been humbled’ by a different and intimate experience of the justice system. 

“I now have a unique perspective, from its highest pedestal as attorney general, to its pillory, as a defendant cuffed in the back of a squad car, accused of two very serious offences involving the tragic death of a man.” 

The system, he emphasized, had bent over backward to avoid any hint of impropriety. “It can bend in no other direction. It cannot and did not.” 

He has no axe to grind against police or the meticulous investigation. “What I will never forget is the unnecessary tragedy of that night. A young man is dead and for his family and friends that remains the searing memory. To them I express my sympathies and sincere condolences. I have grieved that loss and I always will.” 

Bryant will return now to his job with a law firm. 

“This has turned out to be a tale about addiction, mental health, an independent justice system, a tragic death and a couple out on their wedding anniversary with the top down. It is not a morality play about bikes versus cars, couriers versus drivers, or about class, privilege and politics. 

“It’s just about how, in 28 seconds, everything can change. And thereafter time marches on. And so will I.” 

Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. 

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Michael Bryant can return to politics…eventually, experts say

Former attorney-general has worked hard to preserve his political options

Toronto Star 

Published On Wed May 26 2010  

Rob Ferguson Queen’s Park Bureau  

When the dust settles, Michael Bryant will be able to return to politics now that criminal charges against him in the death of a cyclist have been withdrawn, communications and political strategists agree.  

But how the fallout unfolds from Tuesday’s decision by a prosecutor to drop the counts will play a role in how soon the former attorney general, economic development and aboriginal affairs minister could make a move. 

“We have to see how it plays out in over the next few days,” said one veteran strategist, noting that the cycling community is raising questions about the decision. 

Another strategist said Bryant, who left politics to head Invest Toronto before the accident, will have to live with concerns about his judgment that could dog him in any campaign. 

“Why didn’t he just step on the brakes that night? That’s always going to sit there with him.” 

Bryant didn’t seem to have much of an appetite for a return to public life at a news conference Tuesday, but didn’t rule it out. 

“To be honest I haven’t really thought about much other than getting through this experience one day at a time and I don’t know what the future holds,” said Bryant, a lawyer now working as a special advisor at Ogilvy Renault, who took questions for about five minutes. 

“I do know that I’ve got some legal bills to pay and that I will be going back to work and enjoying the practice that I have been enjoying at Ogilvy’s.” 

Sources said Bryant’s approach since the Aug. 30 death of bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard has been to preserve the option of running for office again. Bryant’s allies were quick off the mark with one observer noting “his team did an amazing job turning the story around” after the accident and arrest, playing up the fact Bryant was driving home from an anniversary dinner with his wife. 

“I think he’s in good shape,” said former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister John Snobelen, citing the withdrawal of charges by an imported British Columbia prosecutor who told reporters he “probably wouldn’t have laid charges” in hindsight. 

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Snobelen, who had his own brush with the law over a gun charge a few years ago after leaving politics.  

“I think there’s politics ahead of him. No matter how altered he is, I think he very much was and is a political animal.” 

It’s going to take time, said Hugh Mansfield, a veteran of political campaigns and managing partner of communications and strategy firm Mansfield Communications. 

“Whenever your name is associated with a tragic event it’s difficult to create separation.” 

Bryant may find he would have been better off going to trial so a judge could rule on the charges, which would go further to quell sniping from critics that he got a sweetheart deal in the “post-Jaffer environment,” said NDP justice critic Peter Kormos, referring to the former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer. 

“There’s going to be a cloud over this whole scenario.” 

While Premier Dalton McGuinty told reporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night that it was “very premature” to discuss any future for Bryant in politics, other Liberals said Bryant can move forward. 

“Just remember that Chappaquiddick didn’t stop Teddy from being a successful and powerful senator,” said one party insider, referring to the late Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy’s car accident that killed campaign volunteer Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969. 

Another Liberal, however, noted that “Kennedy never became president” like his brother John because of Kopechne’s death. 

“This will always be part of Michael’s life and the (news) stories will always say, ‘he killed someone’ — even though it wasn’t his fault.” 

With files from Robert Benzie in Rehovot, Israel 

________________________________________

 A cloud will hang over Bryant case: Kormos 

Toronto Sun 

Last Updated: May 25, 2010 8:20pm 

By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief 

Michael Bryant’s former political foes at Queen’s Park were sharply divided on whether the former attorney general should have gone to trial for the death of a Toronto cyclist. 

NDP MPP Peter Kormos said the case should have been put to a judge, in part to alleviate possible public concerns Bryant received preferential treatment based on his background. 

“There’s going to be a cloud over this case now forever and ever,” Kormos, a lawyer, said. “It’s so important that the criminal justice system not only be fair and just but that it also be seen to be fair and just. And that sense of fairness, that appearance of fairness, I think was overlooked …” 

But Tory MPP Christine Elliott, also a lawyer, said the decision of the independent Crown Attorney to withdraw charges, supported by significant reasons in court, indicates Bryant is innocent. 

While describing the situation as unfortunate and sad for the cyclist’s family, Elliott said she believes the justice system took the steps to ensure Bryant was treated as any other accused. 

“Everybody should be judged on the same standard so you don’t get held to a higher standard or a lower standard,” she said. “And I think in this particular case that standard was achieved.” 

Bryant served as the province’s attorney general from 2003 to 2007, responsible for oversight of the province’s courts and prosecutors. 

But he had already resigned his cabinet position and provincial seat in Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government to take a job with a City of Toronto-owned agency when the accident occurred last year. 

“There are going to be people out there in the province of Ontario who are going to believe Mr. Bryant was treated differently,” Kormos said. “I’m not saying that’s the case but there are going to be people who say that.” 

Recent Public concern over a crown’s decision to drop drunk driving and drug possession charges against former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer highlight the need to go before a judge, Kormos said. 

Elliott said the court was given a detailed explanation why the case against Bryant was unlikely to lead to conviction. 

The prosecutor does have the discretion to withdraw charges, and in this particular instance, the crown who made that decision hails from another jurisdiction, she said.

One Response to Articles re withdrawal of charges against former Ontario AG Michael Bryant

  1. joni cober says:

    On April 2, 2012, I was thrown into the pavement at a Tim Hortons in Barrie. The mirror on the passenger door of this vehicle caught the back of my elbow and thrust me head first onto the pavement. I was knocked unconscious. My glasses were several feet away as was a small bag containing purchases from the nearby convenience store. I came to hearing a woman speaking to me, “M’am, are you OK? You fell, are you OK? You fell. Can I help you up?” (she should have left me there until the parameds arrived!). I mumbled “no” the pain in my head was so horrible, although I gradually stood up with her help. I could see my right eyebrow protruding out over my eye, from which blood began to drip. She brought her car from somewhere nearby and the blood began to splatter as I bent to sit down on passenger seat.

    The police, parameds and hospital emergency staff agreed that I “was hit by a car.”

    The woman who drove into me was the Director of Court Operations for The Ministry of The Attorney General (MAG).

    Not one Personal Injury would represent me. They all had excuses of “can’t take more cases, too busy, or NO return calls at all, including Diamond and Diamond and Prezler. A lawyer I found through a neighbor took the case on a contingency basis, but after the Motions for Discovery mtg. his demeanor towards me changed and it was as though I was the defendant. He then refused to take the case to court on the signed agreed-to contingency basis.

    I have some brain injury, facial disfigurement, and complete full and partial tears of shoulder tendons, both shoulders.

    After FOUR years, I was offered $2,250, which I refused. Eventually the amount was hiked to $7,250! My lawyer was paid $5,000. At this juncture I was so fed up I just wanted peace of mind, So, I accepted. I am in constant pain in shoulders, and other physical problems have arisen as a result. I was recovering from breast cancer surgery (right side) six months earlier (Oct. 13, 12011), when mowed down by this individual. It was agreed by the hospital staff, the police officer and parameds that I was hit by a car. My face was black and purple from the hairline to below the cheekbone and my eye was swollen shut. My right eye was badly swollen closed. The hospital report which had originally stated “was hit by a car” was stroked out with a line through it, and changed to “walked into a car.” A cop who arrived on scene AFTER the “hit” wrote in his report that I “was not paying attention.”

    Sadly, there were no witnesses, even though my injuries PROVED I could NOT have walked into the MAG vehicle. I was standing still, WELL out of the way of vehicles turning into this potentially dangerous location. There were no other vehicles there, and even Bayfield St. was noticeably free of the usual heavy traffic.

    NO ONE can convince me that those WHOM WE EMPLOY at MAG do not make use of their “heirarchical” positions to intimidate and GET OFF “SCOTT FREE.”

    As a result of my wounded shoulders, I cannot reach either arm above my shoulders, other physical problems have arisen, I am prone to horrible angry outbursts, and am TOTALLY DISGUSTED BY OUR “JUSTICE SYSTEM!”

    I would like to have my day in court, and instead of a paltry $7,250, TWO MORE ZEROS should have been added!!!

    I cannot help but think of the movie “Liar, Liar.” I have come up with another meaning for LLB, which I will not put in print.

    Joni Cober

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