Lawyer shocked by judge’s ra­cial com­ments

De­fence protests judge’s con­cern for other ‘dark-skinned’ cab driv­ers in sen­tenc­ing

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - News - TREVOR GREEN­WAY­

An Ot­tawa lawyer says he was caught off guard at a sen­tenc­ing hear­ing when a judge talked about the eth­nic­ity of a Sikh cab driver con­victed of kiss­ing a fe­male pas­sen­ger last year.

Paul Le­wandowski says he is con­sid­er­ing an ap­peal for Jatin­der Singh, 37 — sen­tenced to 30 days in jail Wednes­day — on the grounds that his client may have been dis­crim­i­nated against, and what he be­lieves were “mas­sive dis­crep­an­cies” in the com­plainant’s ac­count of events.

Judge Peter Coul­son told a court­room Wednes­day that Singh’s ac­tions could give other dark-skinned cab driv­ers a bad rep­u­ta­tion.

“The ra­cial un­der­tone wasn’t present through­out most of the trial. To sort of bring it up as a sen­tenc­ing fac­tor of his own ac­cord I think is some­thing that we are go­ing to have to ex­am­ine very carefully on an ap­peal,” Le­wandowski told Metro a day af­ter his client was sen­tenced.

He said Coul­son ini­tially re­marked that Singh’s ac­tions would re­flect on other cab driv­ers in the city, but then “went a step fur­ther to say the Sikh com­mu­nity takes a hit here, mean­ing the fact that one mem­ber of that com­mu­nity does some­thing will re­flect poorly on other peo­ple in that com­mu­nity.

“You don’t hear that said about white peo­ple re­ally, do you?” said Le­wandowski. “You’re a white guy, you did this and now other white guys have a bad name.”

Le­wandowski said he doubts the ra­cial com­ments alone are enough grounds for an ap­peal, but com­bined with the in­con­sis­ten­cies in the vic­tim’s tes­ti­mony, he sees po­ten­tial.

“In all fair­ness, the wit­ness her­self ini­tially said that he tried to kiss her,” said Le­wandowski.

“In another state­ment (she) said (he) kissed her twice, in another state­ment kissed her once and then in another state­ment wasn’t sure how many times.”

Singh was given 30 days in jail, which he will serve on week­ends so he can still pro­vide for his fam­ily. He has 30 days to file an ap­peal.

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