Who is Byron Sonne and why is he in jail?
I’ve never met him, although I saw him in the courtroom and met some of his friends and his parents at his preliminary hearing. Byron’s mother told me she hoped he would be freed before Easter. That didn’t happen.
Even though I’m not a lawyer, what passes for democracy in this country is important to me, as both a citizen and a parent.
I can’t tell you much because there is a publication ban, and like most bloggers, I don’t have lawyers on staff. But Toronto Life knows what they can or can’t print, and they ran a cover article about Byron. I couldn’t get a copy in my rural community, but managed to find one in a store in a neighboring city on Mother’s Day. Now that the next issue is on the stands, the article is available online.
What I can tell you is that even though he’s legally innocent,
Byron has been incarcerated since June 22nd, 2010.
Under the law of this land, Canada, a person is legally innocent unless or until they are proven guilty in a court of law. This is one of our greatest protections after hundreds of years of the evolution of our legal system.
It’s called “the presumption of innocence“.
Under dictatorial systems there is no such protection for citizens. The former Soviet Union’s dictatorial regime has long been of interest since my mother’s family fled during the Russian Revolution. People lived with the fear of the midnight knock on the door; citizens had no protection from the power of the state. When accusation is given the weight of evidence, it is easy enough to wind up in a Gulag.
That’s why these citizen protections are so very important.
Legall, right now, Byron Sonne is innocent.
Yet without having been proven guilty of anything, he has been incarcerated for close to a year without bail.
Today is his 329th day in custody.
In fact, almost all the charges against him have been dropped.
The standard for setting bail is based on whether the accused is (a) a flight risk or (b) a danger.
Is Byron Sonne a flight risk?
When he was arrested, Byron Sonne was a solid citizen with his own home and business; he was also an active member of the community. This If this indicates anything, it’s that Byron is about as far from being a flight risk as you can get.
Is Byron Sonne dangerous?
What about danger? Byron Sonne is a man without any criminal record. A man in his late 30’s with no past history of violence. Which makes him an excellent candidate for bail.
How much domestic violence is done because the courts maintain they have no justification for holding accused abusers indefinitely? People who actually hurt others, people who are clearly a danger, are released from custody by Canadian courts every day. People who have done murder are routinely granted bail. Sometimes, it argued, because the person they would murder is already dead, they are no longer a danger.
Even if there ever had been any danger, in any case it would be over by now.
Because the G20 is over.
The Canadian justice system, like the British system on which it is based, has never been preventative. In a democracy, citizens are not routinely locked away for what they might do, but rather for what they have done.
More than a thousand Canadians were arrested because of the G20. And yet almost all the charges have been dropped.
And Byron Sonne — a man who has been convicted of nothing — is the only G20 protester still deprived of his liberty — for almost a year.
Today, the judge granted bail.
Apparently the Crown is challenging the conditions of the release, so there will be one more hearing. Not tomorrow. On Wednesday.
So Byron gets to spend two more nights in jail.