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Ryan Ross - Between the lines -- Ryan Ross

Judges have a lot to consider when sentencing criminals - It’s almost like clockwork. Every time I write a court story I can almost predict the outrage that’s coming over what some people see as sentences that are too light and the inevitable questions about why judges don’t hand out stiffer penalties. The short answer is usually that they can’t. Every time a judge hands down a sentence they have to follow the established principles of sentencing that are complex and consider a number of factors. But while they do have some flexibility, judges have to give similar sentences for similar crimes. That means judges can’t just throw the book at someone if that sentence would be way out of line with what other offenders have received for similar crimes, even if they want to. If they did, that sentence would be overturned on appeal. Anyone who sits in a courtroom for a sentencing will hear the judge list mitigating factors that will reduce a sentence, such as guilty pleas that save people from having to testify during a trial.  They also list aggravating factors, such as lengthy criminal records, that can lead to longer sentences. Every judge has to balance those factors as they consider the facts of the case at hand. They also have to look at prior case law and lawyers for both sides can spend a lot of time presenting their arguments to show precedent for the sentences they think are fit for the guilty party. While some Islanders think sentences are often too lenient, there have been cases where judges…

Photo : Ryan Ross March 04, 2014

Teresa Wright - Between the lines -- Teresa Wright

Olive Crane did what? - If you ask the Opposition, the Tories in Morell-Mermaid will be up in arms when they find out what Olive Crane did Thursday evening in the legislature. She said government’s recent Throne Speech was the best Throne Speech she’s ever read. But that’s not all. She then stood and voted in favour of it. And when she did, she received a resounding bout of applause and cheers from the Liberal caucus.   “She’d better have an appointment, because she’ll never be elected again.”   This was one of the comments that came from a Progressive Conservative party member who lives in Crane’s district when he found out this transpired Thursday evening.   It’s interesting to note this happened on a day she asked questions about lobster pricing to Ron MacKinley – questions he happened to have ready-made answers to. Her questions sounded very similar to the softballs lobbed by Liberal backbenchers – planted questions that give cabinet ministers an opportunity to wax poetic about all the great things they’re doing on a certain file or issue. The Opposition thinks Crane’s questions were written by MacKinley’s deputy. She sternly denies it (so does MacKinley), but it is interesting to note Crane herself told Guardian reporter Ryan Ross earlier in the week her questions on Thursday would be on a topic other than lobster.   I asked Crane why she supported the Speech from the Throne, especially since she’s made a point of calling herself an independent PC MLA and has said she hopes to one day…

Photo : Teresa  Wright November 29, 2013