Much like bacon everything is better with bail. While out on bail, the food tastes better and the flowers smell sweeter. Bail is a game changer. It is the physical manifestation of the presumption of innocence. You get to work, see your kids and sleep in your own bed. No waiting around in a holding tank while at court hoping that you get a granola bar to supplement that cheese sandwich for lunch.

Telling a person locked up in a detention facility who’s wearing an orange jumpsuit, crowded in a tiny cell with two other people that he’s presumed innocent are hollow words indeed.

You won’t feel like you’re presumed innocent when the main decision of your day is whether or not you sleep with your head beside the toilet or beside the feet of your cell-mate who’s got a case of the jimmy legs.

No wonder then that Toronto Const. James Forcillo who was charged with second degree murder would make sure that whatever time he spent behind bars would be brief. After all he was a jail guard before becoming a police officer so he knew what sweet hell awaited him if he didn’t quickly get bail. If there’s a world record for shortest time waiting for bail while charged with second degree murder I’m certain that his case would be in the running.

That Mr. Forcillo “was not having fun” during this ordeal and that “he and his family’s lives will never be the same” are things that are said about most everyone charged with any criminal offence. Walk into any bail court and you’ll hear defence lawyers saying the exact same things about their own innocently presumed clients – that is of course once he or she is able to get the prosecutor to listen to what they’re saying because the Crown’s brief has already been marked “not releasable.”

Somebody once asked me if I could wave a magic wand over the criminal justice system and make one change what would it be, I answered, “that everybody give a shit.” In Const. Forcillo’s case you had a whole lot people giving a shit – and that’s as it should be. He was treated humanely and respectfully. All defence lawyers wish they could make the spinning wheels of justice come to a screeching halt so that everybody – prosecutors, judges, court staff and jail guards — could just see what a good guy their own client is, just like it did for this police officer.

In Const. Forcillo’s case, the prosecutor appears to have dispensed with the usual yawns, eyeball rolling, and exasperated sighs that often greet defence lawyers in bail court. That’s nice. From now on in bail court, defence counsel should bring the front page of today’s newspaper, show it to the prosecutor and much like that scene in “When Harry met Sally” just say, “I’ll have what’s he’s having.”


Leave a Reply