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Sociology of Law 1

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Assignment 1: Courtroom Visit Michael Bassenden 1210182 Sociology of Law 387-219-DW-00001 D. Shawn Berry Friday, February 16th, 2012 Michael Bassenden 1210182 The Trial: The trial I attended took place on Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at the Palais de Justice de Montreal. The setting of this case was in a Quebec Court in the criminal and penal division. The Crown is pursuing Eric Giammario, the accused, for two counts of sexual assault. The person, who was in charge of this trial along with making the decision, since there were no jury members, was Justice Celine Lamontagne. The incident occurred on January 7th, 2006 at Eric Giammario’s house between him and L.M., the victim is referred to as L.M. because she did not want her name to be made public. The incident began when the two met at a bar and had consumed alcohol before they decided to go to the accused house. Once they had arrived, they began to drink more. This lead to kissing that continued into a sexual relation. Suddenly the accused became violent, he began to hit the victim continuously to the head and threatened to kill her. The victim went into further details, which might explain why Eric Giammario conducted himself in that aggressive manner. The following events occurred between 3:00a.m. and 5:00a.m.L.M. said between the kitchen and the living room, while they were kissing, the accused began to undress her and tear off her undergarments. Once they reached the bedroom, she had asked him to open the light, at first he refused to, but eventually he did. This is when the victim notices that the accused body is covered in eczema. L.M. begins to be scared, but continues by asking if he had a condom on him. He did not have one, but then she provided him with one in which he put on and began to penetrate the victim, with consent from her, but with difficulty. The accused then begins to bite the victim on the ankles and her thighs, along with hitting her on the side of her head in the ear region about twenty times. L.M. thought Eric Giammario was doing this for fun until she realized he was continuing and it was getting worse. She asked the accused to stop, to her dismay he didn’t stop. L.M. began to panic and started praying, and with each prayer Eric Giammario would hit her. The victim described the accused as treating her like a slut, in which she stated she isn’t one. Once the accused began to give her death threats, this is when the victim got dressed as quickly as possible and left. Right before her departure he punched her in the face and gave her a bloody nose. L.M. took the first bus and went to the hospital in which she was diagnosed with multiple fractures to her face and required plastic surgery. The accused stated that he didn’t even remember the encounter the two had, nor does he remember his aggressive acts because he was too intoxicated. Eric Giammario’s defense lawyer admits that the victim was badly hurt, but believes it was Michael Bassenden 1210182 all connected to the sexual activities the two had together. Where as the Crown believes the death threats and the violent actions are not linked to the sexual activity and occurred only after the consented sexual activity was done. The decision was left in the hands of Justice Celine Lamontagne. She used reasoning from another from The Supreme Court of Canada and how they define a sexual assault. Along with that Justice Lamontagne proceeded by saying how she did not see any correlation between the sexual activities and the aggressive activities, and how she sees them as two separate things. The death threats that the accused made towards the victim also played a big factor in the decision. In the end Justice Celine Lamontagne found Eric Giammario guilty on the two counts of sexual assault with sentencing to occur in the nearby future. In the courtroom the atmosphere was very serious, as it always is. Justice Lamontagne was very attentive and seemed very interested in the case, but didn’t offer much emotion since she couldn’t be biased throughout the trial. The prosecutor and the defense lawyer at often times were going back and forth and both showed that they wanted to win the case. In the end they both congratulated each other and seemed to have forgotten what had just happened, because it is a part of the business. Eric Giammario did not offer much emotion and did really seem to have much of a clue of what was going on around him. Especially since he claimed that he did not remember the incidents that occurred on the night of January 7 th, 2006. One of the few witness’ of the trial was the victim herself. I will admit it was hard to listen to her testimony considering the graphic and violent content. She was very emotionally and seemed to be still traumatized by what occurred. I noticed that she couldn’t even look the accused in the eye without having any emotional reflex. The audience members were all very respectful in what was an all day trial and it seemed to be what a typical courtroom would be like. My Opinion: The trial itself is unfortunately a common one, and also pretty graphic. It was a tough atmosphere to be in as well. Although, it did feel different to actually hear, feel and see the emotion in the courtroom rather than what we see on TV everyday. What disgusted me the most was how the accused did not even remember the whole night because of his blood alcohol level. That to me is unacceptable and not an excuse. Regardless, I was impressed with the two lawyers and how into the case they were. It might sound cliché to say, but it was a little inspiration to watch them go back and forth at each other to defend their clients. I was even further impressed with Justice Celine Lamontagne and how she handled the whole courtroom. It is not as easy it seems, especially in a case like this, to keep everything under control and she did so. I also appreciated her verdict and the reasoning she used to come up with her verdict. She Michael Bassenden 1210182 was very professional about it, and offered a lengthy and valid explanation as to why the accused was being convicted. I do believe that justice was served in this particular case. I agree with Justice Celine Lamontagne’s justification. I do see a correlation between the sexual acts and the aggressive acts. I do not believe they were two separate events. Nor do I believe that the victim provoked Eric Giammario to act in such a way. His blood alcohol level might have provoked him to do what he did, but that is no valid reasoning in my point of view. Especially when you consider the severity of the injuries and the amount of hits L.M. took from Eric Giammario. To add to all of this, I believe the numerous death threats that were made did not help the accused at all. If anything that was maybe the deciding factor in whether he was guilty or innocent. The amount of times and the intensity of the death threats were what were needed to push the verdict to a guilty decision. Especially considering how this night still haunts the victim, I think that now justice was served to her, and that with this verdict she can finally move on her life after 5 years of waiting for this moment. I found this trial very intriguing to watch. Although criminal cases aren’t my favorite I still managed to enjoy the experience and myself. It was a great learning experience and was interesting to be a part of and actually get the best perspective rather than a medias perspective. This is something I want to be doing for at least a part of my career, so it was nice to have that experience and to see what it feels like even though I wasn’t directly involved with the case. It was something I greatly enjoyed and an experience that really made me understand why I love the law so much, and why I want to continue studying in law.
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