Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One Colossal Error In Judgement

"I have weighed the mitigating factors applicable to Mr. Morin Leblanc against the devastation caused by the loss of Alexandra Dodger's life, the life of an intelligent and incredibly vibrant human being."
"As you told members of Alexandra Dodger's family, Alexandra Dodger's memory keeps you going forward and I hope you use your time of incarceration to complete your social sciences degree and rebuild your life."
"Whatever happened to the concept of designated driver? Then we don't find ourselves in a situation like this."
"[Alexandra Dodger was] an exceptional woman with a bright future ahead of her. The community has suffered a great loss."
Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Lalonde
A bright future indeed. Just as well we can never know the future, much less what might happen to us five minutes from introspectively examining a fresh thought. Just as well we are spared the potential of happenstance occurrences altering forever our bright thoughts of the future. For Alexandra Dodger, 27, recently graduated from McGill University law school, the future appeared to offer her the opportunity to embark upon her aspirations, preparing to launch her career with an articling position at Amnesty International.
Alexandra Dodger --

She just happened to be walking along a downtown Ottawa street in the early morning of October 15, 2011, when the future happened. It was a brief and violent future that ended abruptly, leaving no space in time nor hope for an extension into a broader future that would permit Alexandra to experience a widening of her world view and the opportunity to practise a profession she found herself drawn to within an organization she hoped to become part of.

And then there was 28-year-old Maxime Morin Leblanc, whom Alexandra did not know, but whose actions were to impinge to a catastrophic degree on her life to the extent that his lack of discretionary judgement would cause her death. Maxime Leblanc was also academically minded, studying social sciences at the University of Ottawa. He was employed as a planning and reporting analyst at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, where he worked full-time, for the past four years.

His future looked exceedingly bright, too. He had two passengers with him in his Honda Accord that day when he drove the wrong way down St.Patrick Street. It was where he struck and killed Alexandra Dodger at the intersection of St. Patrick and Cumberland Streets When police arrived they noted the odour of alcohol and that Mr. Leblanc's eyes appeared "red and glossy". He allowed them to take a roadside breath test, after admitting to having had a few drinks.

Judge jails drunk driver Maxime Morin Leblanc for killing pedestrian
Maxime Morin Leblanc, left, struck and killed Alexandra Dodger, a recent graduated from McGill University law school on Oct. 15, 2011.  Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto , Ottawa Citizen

When he was informed that the pedestrian he had driven his car into had died, he consulted a lawyer. After which he refused a second, more definitive breath sample, perhaps on the advice of the lawyer, but as it happened, he was legally obliged to allow that test. He was charged with criminal negligence causing death and impaired driving causing death. Justice Lalonde sentenced him to three years in prison on each of the charges concurrently served, with an additional year (consecutive) for his refusal to supply a breath sample.

The four years in prison was accompanied by another punishing sentence; he was banned from driving for ten years. Although Mr. Morin had earned praise for his work performance, his supervisor advised that his job could be held open for him for only two years. He had no previous criminal record, and at trial 21 letters of support from co-workers, family and friends spoke in his praise describing him as "dependable, trustworthy, honest and a gentle soul".

The gentle soul in Mr. Leblanc led him to, as a psychologist testified "tremendous remorse and moral guilt" over his indefensible carelessness taking a life. At a February court hearing, Mr. Leblanc turned to the victim's family to apologize, assuring them that the death of their loved one would "be with me all my life".

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