A random act of kindness, they say, goes a long way. That’s something that defence and shoplifting lawyer, Jordan Bonner found out recently, after he took time off his day to help a defendant in court. Thanks to a CBC reporter watching the proceedings, his generosity was spread across the internet while, at the same time, highlighted an issue in the legal system that led to an elderly man in need of a walker coming back to court seven times to deal with something as small as a $15 shoplifting charge.
CBC Reporter Meghan Grant bore witness to Bonner’s magnanimity, and tweeted out the proceedings, starting her thread with the message that Bonner’s 15 minutes changed someone’s life.
Bonner was interviewed by local news outlets, where he reported that he was just in the courtroom, waiting for a client that didn’t show, when he took notice of the defendant; an old man with a walker. He heard the judge speak to the elderly defendant, who wanted to plead not guilty.
Then, Bonner explains, the judge explained all of the steps that the elderly defendant would have to deal with in order to get a trial date, and that’s where the shoplifting lawyer said that he saw the strain in the old man’s eyes, having been told to do so many things for something as simple as a $15 shoplifting case.
The defendant was making his seventh appearance, and wanted to plead not guilty, which, would, in turn, lead to a trial date and additional return trips to the court.
It was then that Bonner approached the Crown prosecutor, and inquired about the case, to see if anything can be done for the elderly defendant. After examining the case, the Crown realized that the elderly man’s case could be diverted to Alternative Measures, which would mean that he wouldn’t have to go back to the court, at least not anytime soon.
Bonner says that he wanted to help the man, who was clearly in distress over the whole matter. On top of that, there’s also a pragmatism to his decision; having the man show up in court meant spending money making sure the court was running.
As a result of Bonner’s actions, the elderly defendant would return in 3 months to give proof of community service, or a letter of apology, or charitable donation, without getting any criminal record.
Bonner notes how reasonable the Crown prosecutor was over the whole affair, and how helpful Grant was in tracking the man, who, for his part, was willing to go along with his idea. He notes that it may be an adversarial system, but they are working together, doing their best, to get things done.