A slice of humble pie

Cameron Ward is a civil rights lawyer in Canada. (He is also a pretty good goalie from Canada, playing for the Hurricanes. But that’s another guy.) In 2002 he was arrested on suspicion of plotting to throw a pie at the Prime Minister.

[P]olice – acting on an anonymous tip that someone was preparing to pie then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien at a nearby event – arrested Cameron Ward as he walked to work.

Ward, who did not have pie with him, was jailed for several hours, subjected to a partial strip search and had his car impounded.

He was released after Chretien’s event was over, and the prime minister — who had been pied at an East Coast event in 2000 — never did suffer a pie attack.

Ward then sued the Vancouver police for wrongful arrest. A court ruled in his favor, awarding him approximately $10,000. Vancouver then appealed the ruling, resulting in this a ruling from Canada’s Supreme Court:

The justices unanimously sided with Ward, however, although they struck down the C$100 he got for having his car impounded.

“He had a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, which was violated in an egregious fashion,” wrote the court, ruling that the rights violation was great enough to warrant damages being paid.

This has taken 8 years to conclude. It has cost the city far more than the awarded 10 grand when the legal fees, time and energy, and embarrassment are all factored. But what could have solved the problem much, much, much more quickly? What could have saved everyone from this whole show? It turns out the answer is pretty simple. The courts and police just needed to fess up to their obvious error in judgement.

“All of this has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars needlessly because all I ever wanted was an apology,” Ward insisted.

The audacity.

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