This is what happens when Bad Laws victimize Good People.
Back on May 16, 2011 I wrote about the case of 72-year-old Port Angeles resident Fred Rodolf, who made the mistake of passing through Canadian waters on his way to Alaska. He runs a small charter business there each year.
That article was titled "Thank God we’re safe from dangerous 72-year-olds!" and outlined the absurdity of charging Mr. Rodolf.
Fred Rodolf is not a criminal. He is not a threat to anyone. He happens to own firearms, as is his right. Now, because of his oversight and Canada's asinine gun laws, this good man will likely be spending three years in prison.
While he has a right to trial by jury, the sad fact of the matter is that a Canadian jury will simply not comprehend they have the right to judge both the offense AND the law.
It's a common misconception... juries, especially Canadian juries, do what the power and authority tell them to. In a courtroom that power, that authority, is generally considered to be the judge. And there's not a judge in the land that will tell a jury that they have the power to refuse to convict when the law is an ass, as it clearly is in this case.
The most important aspect of determining if an action is criminal is intent. Mens rea. The legal definition of Mens Rea, Latin for guilty mind; guilty knowledge or intention to commit a prohibited act.
Fred Rodolf does not have that.
Fred Rodolf was not "smuggling guns" into Canada.
Fred Rodolf was traveling FROM the United States TO the United States. His "crime", if you can call it that, was passing through Canadian waters to get to Alaska so he could run his summer business.
Any jury that knows their full rights and responsibilities would return a verdict of Not Guilty in ten seconds or less.
Unfortunately for Mr. Rodolf, the folks who sit on juries don't know that, and the justice system isn't going to tell them.
Now I understand that this is a foreign concept to most Canadians. Heck, it's a foreign concept to most Americans!
Ask yourself one simple question.
Who has the power in a courtroom?
Seriously... ask yourself that question, right now.
What was your answer?
If it was "the judge", then you are wrong.
It is the jury that has the power.
Don't believe me? That's fine... you don't have to. But I will ask you to ask yourself a second question.
If the judge has the power, why is the judge not allowed into the Jury Deliberation Room?
They're not, you know.
If they are all-powerful inside a courtroom, why can't they go into the jury room to, say, answer any questions they might have?
Because they aren't the one with the final power in that courtroom.
The jury is.
The laws that Fred Rodolf is charged with violating were supposedly designed to keep guns out of the hands of gang-bangers and other violent criminals.
Who these bad laws catch, however, is decent men like Fred Rodolf.
The mandatory minimum sentences attached to those laws were designed to be a deterrent to those same criminals.
Who those mandatory minimums affect, however, are NOT the gang bangers and violent criminals, but good men like Fred Rodolf.
How on earth is society served by sending a 72-year-old businessman to prison for three years?
The simple truth is this: It's not.
Fred Rodolf was not "smuggling firearms" into Canada. He was passing through Canadian waters on his way to Alaska.
Send the man home. Keep his guns if you really think that's necessary. Just send the man home and stop wasting tax dollars prosecuting and incarcerating a man who is not, has not and will not ever be a threat to you, me or anyone else.
You'd have to be a moron to think he hasn't learned his lesson from this experience already.
VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST - MAY 22, 2011
Thumbs up/ thumbs down
THUMBS UP: To Fred Rodolf, 72, for highlighting the stupidity of mandatory minimum sentences. The Port Angeles man sailed into Pender Harbour and didn't declare three handguns on his Alaska-bound boat. He faces a mandatory three-year jail term for smuggling firearms. He should lose the guns and face a big fine. But paying to keep him in jail makes no sense; nor does removing the courts' ability to impose appropriate sentences in each case.