IN THE HANDS of a zealous prosecution, what ultimately matters is not the guilt or the innocence of the suspect, but the prosecutorial capacity to exploit human vulnerability. In that respect, Guy Paul Morin, a naive, eccentric bumpkin, with a speech habit which was so peculiar that it shocked "refined" middle class sensibilities, defense lawyer Clayton Ruby had his work cut out for him. In a world where perception has the capacity to manipulate public opinion, Mr. Ruby was concerned less with the frivolity of the case against Morin and more by the peculiar qualities of the defendant.
It is an unfortunate matter of fact, but people are often judged, not by what they say but by how they say it. With that criterion in mind, prejudicial as it may be, Guy Paul Morin was clearly not your "normal" defendant. Brutally blunt to the point where he appeared to be uncaring, if confronted with news about a tragedy, he was more likely to say, "Oh well, the sun will come out tomorrow" , rather than "Oh yes, isn't that terrible". And if Morin is conceivably insensitive or weird or naive, the enduring quality which survives every scrutiny, is his blunt honesty. At least that much is clearly apparent, not only when he assesses the tragic fate of others, but when he assesses his own as well. Indeed, there does not appear to be a single, hypocritical bone in his body. When asked whether he missed playing the clarinet while in prison, he replied; "At least you can whistle or sing."37 A more "normal " person would have more "appropriately" seethed in anger.
When the prosecutor sought to exploit Morin's alleged insensitivity through the suggestion that he did not join extensive searches to locate Christine's body because he had murdered her and so "there was no purpose in looking," Morin naively countered; " I didn't know Christine was dead. I had no idea. That's an accusation.38 Compared to the Crown's calculating, desperate campaign to paint every single event in terms of assumed guilt, Morin's naive, common sense integrity is refreshingly peculiar. Indeed the contrast between the integrity of the Crown and Guy Paul Morin, is absolutely stark.
Under the glare of an objective microscope, the prosecution claim that Morin did not join the search for Christine because he was the murderer, is patently preposterous. Clearly, an analysis which ignores the ramifications of the investigative police practice deployed in the Morin case, is extremely superficial. Recall that Morin was charged with murder simply because he was not eliminated as a suspect. The addendum claim that this suspect is guilty because his behaviour is suspicious, is simply and frivolously a vicious self-fulfilling prophesy which has little if any, evidential value. Indeed, if one wants to engage the Crown's speculative "detective games" , one can even more convincingly claim that Morin was not the actual murderer, because if he was, that anxious murderer would have feigned concern over the disappearance of Christine Jessop in order to evade suspicion. Or he would have vanished without a trace. Or he would have actively blamed somebody else, to evade suspicion.
Practically every media, every newspaper, every reporter who covered the story, promoted the revelation that Morin had failed to assist the search to locater Christine Jessop, and the consequent suggestion that Morin was a substantial suspect, always managed to seep through. Circumstances which suggested otherwise, were always ignored. If this evident trial through the media has prejudiced justice, then perhaps the media should live up to the responsibility of setting the record straight. At the very least, if Morin is not to be denied the right to be presumed innocent, his guilt should be proven rather than merely assumed. To date, the media has been rather wishy-washy in it's interpretation of the evidence, and its general demeanour has been more akin to supporting, rather than denouncing the "lynch mob" mentality which is evidently responsible for the conviction of Guy Paul Morin. At the same time, the media deserves credit for providing a sufficient quality and quantity of material which provides the opportunity to engage a reasonable assessment of fact. In the face of "time-pressure" constraints, the media has perhaps performed as well as can be expected, and as more evidence emerges, it will hopefully provide more insight and less rumour. If for example, the media accepts the determination that Morin is in fact a murderer, it should perhaps promote evidence of guilt, rather than slanted, prosecutorial stories. On the other hand, if the media determines that the prosecution of Morin is not justifiable, it should demand a stay in the charge against him. Given the possibility that the media has had a hand in prejudicing a legitimate defence, it should perhaps exercise its power to set the record straight.
When Guy Paul Morin was found to be not guilty, the general misleading impression was that Clayton Ruby had "pulled one over" the prosecution with a cynical insanity plea. Under the circumstances as they existed however, one can hardly blame a defence lawyer for doing his utmost to shield a "peculiar" client from the clutches of an overzealous prosecution. Stuck with a client who won awards at agricultural fairs for his salad dressings and pies rather than for his oratorial skills, Morin was conceivably a "crazy neighbour" in the eyes of "normal" expectations, and Clayton Ruby appropriately explored the possibility. And in the final analysis, even if we stretch the imagination and claim that the insanity plea was a cynical defence tactic, it was clearly not as cynical or even as erroneous as the claim that Guy Paul Morin is a murderer.
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